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Combining Digital Capabilities with Human Interaction with Michael Liersch

As financial services advance, people increasingly use digital tools and platforms to manage their finances. While these tools can be highly effective, they may not always align with the person’s values and aspirations. How can people utilize new technologies and platforms while ensuring that their financial decisions align with their values and aspirations rather than simply following algorithms or generic advice?

In this episode, Jack talks with Michael Liersch, Head of Advice & Planning for Wealth and Investment Management at Wells Fargo. In his role, Michael is responsible for developing and propagating research-based methods to help advisors and clients productively collaborate around their money decisions. Before joining Wells Fargo, Michael held executive roles in companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, and Barclay’s Wealth Americas, where he developed a deep understanding of people and money and how to help advisors provide clients with a better experience.

With a mission of helping people make better money decisions, Michael speaks to Jack about LifeSync, the new tool he and his team have developed that leads the way to a compelling future for the advice experience.

What Michael has to say

“LifeSync creates a much more fluid and normalized way of talking about money. That’s where we want to take this — normalizing money conversation and the connection between money and meaning.”

– Michael Liersch, Head of Advice & Planning, Wells Fargo

Read the full transcript

Jack Sharry: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us on this week’s edition of WealthTech on Deck. Over the past few years of publishing our weekly podcast, we’ve looked at the confluence of digital and human advice from just about every angle imaginable. We’ve talked with executives across the industry on some very interesting and innovative advances in helping consumers and advisors make better choices and achieve better outcomes. I’m hesitant to over promise but I think today’s session is about as cutting edge as I’ve seen in the nearly 100 podcast episodes we’ve recorded. Our guest today has been on our show a couple of times before, Michael Liersch heads advice and planning at Wells Fargo. His background includes a PhD in cognitive psychology, he taught behavioral finance at NYU Stern School of Business, and he’s been an executive at Merrill JP Morgan, and now Wells Fargo, where he has developed a deep understanding about people and money, and how to help advisors provide clients with a better experience. Today, we’re going to discuss a new tool that Michael and his team have developed that I think leads the way to a compelling future. For the advice experience, Michael, my friend, welcome to WealthTech on Deck again.

Michael Liersch: Thank you so much for having me here. Jack, I’m so excited to talk about LifeSync. But more importantly, I’m excited, just like we did before the podcast started just to catch up with a good friend, good to talk to you as well.

Jack Sharry: This is a lot of fun. So Michael, last time you and I were doing the show, it was shortly after announcing an important agreement with e-money. By the time this podcast airs you will be launching something I find to be a real change for our industry. And that came out of your collaboration with the money and I think a lot more. So please fill us in on what you and your team have been working on is now launched at Wells Fargo.

Michael Liersch: So Jack, we are launching a new capability a mobile first capability called LifeSync. You alluded to it. So people might say what is life saying? So L I F E S Y N C not in sync Jack, but LifeSync in syncs though the old boy band here. Yeah, so with LifeSync, what was interesting about it is we wanted it to first and foremost not be a tool or a think of it as a capability. We wanted it to be a wealth management experience and process. And so that’s where I want to begin. So we started talking about it at Wells Fargo last February. And what we talked about is that first and foremost, humans want to interact with humans, Jack, they want that human connection. We also during COVID. Were also desperate once COVID. Really we got to the other side of it to go back to living our lives. And where people predicted that we wouldn’t that was not a true story. So what we want to do is create that deep human connection around money, Jack, that’s the point of life sink. And what’s great is we did some research with real human beings, real customers and clients, people who weren’t customers and clients at Wells Fargo. And we said, just tell us what the life sink name means to you. And they said, Well, it sounds like you want to create meaning from my money. And so that my money accomplishes what I wanted to accomplish, literally jack, and so they couldn’t get it more, right. And what we said is well, what if a company like Wells Fargo offered it. And what was fascinating about that idea, Jack, is they liked it even more. They said oh my gosh, wealth management organization would offer this to me a bank would offer this to me, that sounds perfect because I feel at times, and this came out of the research confused, or I don’t understand what I want to accomplish with my money. And then when I get clarity around that I’m not sure what to do with it. It’s in a bunch of different places. And it’s not really aligned to what I just said I wanted to accomplish. So people talked about feeling a peace of mind. And you’ve heard this before Jack feeling all these emotions, very positive emotions once they made that connection. So that was our inspiration. So we talked about that inspiration in five different buckets that needed to be connected. And then I’m going to move you to exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about life sinking the mobile app. So we talked to our thinking about all our advisors and our clients about this idea of connecting this idea of understanding which you highlighted your goals preferences, in actually putting that jack into a common database. What do we know about you as a client? And what do you want to accomplish with your money and time horizons dollar amounts priorities, then moving that into a decision making framework and we call that planning you mentioned e money the money has in the reason why that partnership was so amazing a variety of different capabilities for those who don’t have a lot out of money to those who have an extraordinary amount of wealth, they have that entire wealth spectrum of basic goals based planning, all the way to, you know, this advanced Cash Flow Planning feature, then you want to push that into a suggestion engine Jack, as you know, you know, what do I want to do next, based on that decision making framework? And what you understand about me, what do you propose it here? So we call that, you know, propose those suggestions, then you want to push that into implementation and say, Well, what am I going to do to actually fulfill on that need that concern that goal? And what do I want to defer? Or what doesn’t resonate with me? And then finally, we want to revisit those situations on an ongoing basis. And as you know, Jack, there’s a lot of evidence that, you know, exogenous factors, you know, markets like we’re experiencing right now, you know, all the way to potential recession, all the way to just changes in people’s lives, create a lot of dynamics where you have to go back to the beginning and say, Is this still accurate, and go through that process. So that’s really what we built around LifeSync. So we branded that lifestyle, registered trademarks, you have the whole kit and caboodle even a tagline your life, your money in sync. So people are really getting it resonated with our advisors and clients. So then there was a demand jack, and this is where I think it gets important. We always want it to be a demand poll here, then there is demand. Well, I want to see all this information that I’m interacting with around my advisor, my eMoney plan my goals, you know how that connects to what I’ve implemented, and revisiting it, I want to see it 24/7, literally jack, so advisors and clients are demanding it. So what we’re launching, or what we launched is this idea of putting that in the mobile app. And so you’ve seen this literally seeing your E money plan in a goal section than having a vital section, what’s driving that money plan, net worth portfolio performance, market indices, all in one place. We call those again, vitals, so goals, vitals. And then the last one is a news feed Jack, where curated content based on the goals you’ve articulated, you know, if it’s education for a child or grandchild, that will be served up. If it’s retirement, that’ll be served up. If you’re looking to grow your money, we’re going to expose you to our market outlook. So it’s really this curated content just for you. And it creates this ecosystem or circle Jack, where people can interact with their advisor, because when they put information that they want to talk to, with their advisor about like articulating an additional goal with additional time horizons or dollar amounts changes in them, it feeds into the Adviser Workstation, alerts the advisor, the advisor can pull it directly into the money plan, Jack, and update that plan in the moment. So I’m just so excited about it to your point, I’m not aware of any other capability that does this in a collaborative way with advisors, clients, sometimes you have that direct to client experiences, you know, Jack, and sometimes you have that one way where you just expose information to a client as an advisor. But this collaborative experience, where you’re really leveraging digital capabilities with the human beings interacting is something that I’m just excited to introduce to our wealth management environment.

Jack Sharry: So I completely concur, I pay very close attention, as you know, because we talk about it from time to time, it just the exciting things happening in our in our industry. I’m going to pull a bit of a surprise on you here, Michael, I’m talking about you with a former colleague of yours and so on. I know you hold in high regard. John Thiel was telling me, John, who headed up the Merrill advisers going back when you were there?

Michael Liersch: Yes. John is a good friend.

Jack Sharry: Yes, yes, he’s a good friend, wonderful guy here too, as well. He raised something that sort of is at the heart of what you’re talking about, we’ll get to the mechanics or what you’re doing, because it’s really cool. The mechanics. But I think what I’m seeing we just launched this week on welfare deck conversation with Ken Dyck Wald, who talks about really one of the most important things you can determine is what is the purpose of wealth? I have to mention this to John Thiel, who said, When Michael worked with us at Merrill, he got us to encourage every advisor to ask their client, what is the purpose of your wealth? This sounds like the manifestation of that question you came up with years ago? What is the purpose of your wealth, and I’m seeing a big shift as we went through COVID. And all the rest of it just purpose became a whole new thing that people are much more aware of concern about, and so on. Yeah, they want to have the mechanics of having more money and all the rest of that stuff. But really, what it comes down to what is wrong, meaning what’s important, so let’s talk about that. We’ll get to the mechanics of it and how that plays out manifests and so on. But talk a little bit about that. As fascinating as I think you came up with that question. I’m gonna say five, seven years ago, but Phil said.

Michael Liersch: I did. And it was actually in conversations with Riley Etheridge, who I worked with at the time, and John Thiel, we all were talking about what clients, customers, human beings, families, Jack, we’re entitled to really have understood about them. We all agreed at its fundamental level. If we’re advice providers, we should know that the jobs to be done with that money, what that person’s priority is. And I remember rightly saying priority matters here, even in that schema, you know what the purpose of the wealth is, I’ll never forget it, Jack, I tested the hypothesis because I’m a behavioral scientist, and they knew I was totally willing to do it. Getting in front, we would have these huge advisor forums getting in front of 1000 advisors. And I said to the advisors to test the hypothesis, Jack, if they agreed, raise your hand, if you feel like a client is not entitled to have you understand the purpose of their wealth. So used to negative hear if they’re not entitled for you to understand that, and 0% of advisors raise their hand, they say, So now raise your hand if you feel client is entitled to have you know that information to have you understand that information. And every hand Jack went up, it was extraordinary. Like went up my passion. The advisors then said, well, then we got into a discussion, literally 1000 advisors and I, but how do you do that my goal, you know, those conversations can be uncomfortable clients push back, you know, human beings don’t have a lot of familiar familiarity with, with really revealing everything about that purpose. So that’s what got us into an amazing journey in that experience. And I think that’s what you’re digging into is our taboos and a little bit of discomfort in that not just in in professional environments and family environments. Just talking about money in general. Am I hitting on something that you’re trying to go for here? Jack?

Jack Sharry: Yeah, you got it, you got it. And we’ll come back to it. In between now, you built a tool, with the idea that it causes that kind of conversation? Right? That I’m assuming that’s where you’re going?

Michael Liersch: That’s exactly right. So actually building off that premise, in a lot of research we’ve done it’s very clear that what advisors and clients talk about and what clients want to talk about with their advisor, there’s a gap. And we’ve actually done what research specific research at Wells Fargo. And the cool part is, you know, some people think, well, it’s a gender thing. It’s actually identical across gender, there’s just this gap. People don’t tell their advisors as much as they want to about the purpose for their money, Jack, whether it’s their work life, whether it’s their family. And so by creating a mobile experience, oddly enough, Jack, and I think we all know this, human beings are much more willing to give that type of personal information to their mobile device. And I don’t know if it even non digital natives, Jack, I don’t know if it’s because we just feel like it’s a one two, you know, non-interaction, like we’re telling it to almost a non-human, and that makes it easier or less judgmental. I don’t know what all the reasons are, I think we could all invent a bunch of explanations, but people are just more willing to do it. So by putting it in the device, and feeding it to the advisor, even though the client knows that they tell them more information about the purpose for their wealth, Jack. And that was the inspiration here. And then when you call it Life sink, and you make it clear that that’s the whole point. They’re even more willing to do it just like I told you in the research. So that was the inspiration. How do we get through the human to human barrier to ironically and create a better human connection? Does that feel kind of ironic to Jack a little bit?

Jack Sharry: It does, I love it. And actually, I’ve shared this story in the podcast before, but it bears repeating the advisor I happen to work with that former firm we did talk about. And I inherited him my advisor left for greener pastures. And I stayed with that firm. And in our first few conversations, he didn’t ask me one question about me or my family. And instead was telling me about the various portfolios that he loved and the performance and so on. Those who know me know, I do not care about that. It’s like, I buy advice, figuring it, it’s all gonna turn out. And it’s commodity to me, you know, I know no one beats the market. And all I want to make sure is somewhere I’m in. I’m above average, that’s fine by me. The What does matter to me, are my grandchildren and my family and a whole bunch of things that I could I could list. He’s yet to ask me. He’s not he’s not aware that that is, what matters. Is he listening to this podcast? Check? I’m not sure that he is. But okay, I share this with anyone that would listen, is that and you’ve seen all sorts of studies. And this is, I think, a big part. And I want to hear some more about the LifeSync and how this all works to help overcome that. But just to finish, the thought is that I really don’t want to talk about performance, I can look at it. So you know, it’s like looking at the weather. I don’t watch the woods and watch the weather anymore on TV. I can just pick up my phone and see what the weather is. That’s all I need. That’s all I need. Anyway, but back to life.

Michael Liersch: Can I ask you a question about this? Because I think this gets to some of what you’re and I’m going to kind of flip the frame on you on your podcast. Sure. Absolutely. Just like he threw me a new question that I wasn’t aware you’re going to ask. I’m sure. It’ll link to exactly where you’re going with this. I think in Sure. Remember, I tried to be predictive here. So why didn’t you bring it up? Or why don’t you bring it up? Why are you waiting to be asked the question?

Jack Sharry: Interesting, because I know I want to change. And I don’t want to get into it with someone that I know I’m not going to continue. I inherited them. Clearly we he wasn’t interested enough to find out. So I wasn’t interested enough to make that investment of my time and energy. Because I know where I that I want to change. That really was that simple.

Michael Liersch: Interesting. And this is highlighting, I think one of the key points for your listeners, this is talking about goals, talking about what we typically refer to as the soft things. Yeah, they’re actually the hardest things to talk about. And then once we discuss them, what you’re highlighting is there’s so much energy and effort put into them. Once you do it, you kind of don’t want to have that conversation again and again and again. And again, a bunch of different people. Is it am I hearing you, right, Jack? Totally, totally. So anyway, go to your next question, because I think it’ll be connected to what.

Jack Sharry: So here’s my understanding of licensing, and you were kind enough to provide a demo to see what it looks like. It’s basically in the palm of my hand, I can look at everything I own least that it Wells Fargo, and maybe beyond or account aggregation. So that’s available, if you want to use that I can see everything I own inside is E money so I can whatever my goals, or whatever my priorities are, that’s in there. And then as I understand the newsfeed in real time.

Michael Liersch: By the way, Jack, it’s not like some batch process I’ve taken okay.

Jack Sharry: Okay, cool. So I can see what’s going on, like right now, like the weather, like, Okay, here’s what it is, and all that. And then the other piece that you’ve mentioned to me, and correct me, if I’m off on this, there’s like Twitter fields of information that is germane to me, given what I filled out in terms of any money profile and all that. There’s 20 fields of information. So when I get a news feed, it’s gonna get stuff that matters to me, that matters to the person down the street.

Michael Liersch: That is exactly right. So you’ll literally have curated information based on what matters most to you. And as we move through the life cycle journey, we have something called an advice engine, that’s going to even build on those goals. Jack, it will look at your behaviors, your preferences, we’re going to build a whole database. And we’ve had think of it as over 50 advice and planning professionals, you know, JDS people who have real client interactions and experiences Jack, who are actually testing and building that model to make it better and better and better. LifeSync just doesn’t end with this launch. It’s going to keep doing what you’re describing in a more and more sophisticated way.

Jack Sharry: So my least favorite term AI because it’s so misused, but basically, you’re describing as artificial intelligence. Yes, highly curate, and another of my least favorite terms, hyper personalized, actually, in a move toward hyper personalization. So what I’m seeing and hearing and being guided toward is very germane to me and my interests and my priorities.

Michael Liersch: Right. So what I would say is, I agree with you on the artificial intelligence space, it’s way overused. So what I would say is, it’s a rules based engine that we are going to be updating to become more and more complicated, Jack. And eventually, it will become an artificial intelligence capability. Right? Because the rules, based engines plus feedback plus decision weights, right, all these things, create that AI environment. And so I don’t want to oversell it. But that’s where it’s all going.

Jack Sharry: I agree. But to be fair, you’re way ahead of anyone else in the industry, what you just described,

Michael Liersch: I would say yes, I agree. And the reason why is when you think of these advice engines, typically what goes on is it’s really pushing information to the customer or client based on what the firm feels is most relevant, rather than what the client or customer is saying, as most relevant. So I think that frame is already taking it to a new and innovative place, Jack, if that’s fair.

Jack Sharry: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting, Michael, you and I love to talk about these things. I’m so glad we’re doing it here. I’m a bit of a student of our industry and over the past 40 years, it’s been top down firms saying here’s the greatest mutual fund ever. Here’s the greatest ETF, here’s the greatest SMA here’s the greatest product product. lately. It’s direct indexing everything I just said they’re all fine and good. This is I’m not knocking them. But it says if you buy one more product, you’re going to solve your problem. I’ve noticed to me, it seems it was on the verge of flipping, but it flipped certainly in my observation around COVID where it went from top down, here’s what you got to do. Here’s the best next thing to do in terms of a product sale to let’s find out what I want need. I’m thinking about retiring and in my 401k has never been heard. This is pre COVID is hitting. It’s never been higher. I don’t like work. I’m watching friends and family die, and I’m starting to reconsider everything. And so we had this massive number of people the most in history, people retiring. We go through COVID the markets get crazy and inflation goes crazy and the The world changes again in the space of a year or two. And now I think maybe I should go back to work, you know, for those that are in that. So what I find interesting about all this and where you’re going is it allows people to make more informed decisions based on their personal situation. And we’ll get to this admitted about what the advice looks like going forward. So we’ll hold off on that for a moment. But I, my getting that accurately, do you see the same thing where we’ve kind of made a flip.

Michael Liersch: Same exact thing, Jack. And I would say that that flip, I totally agree with you on the timing of it being an urgent flip, which is what you’re describing, need to see to the marketplace. It’s like an urgent flip. Everyone’s like, oh, my gosh, we need to go to this needs-based jobs to be done. Consumer client centric model like now. And I think part of that Jack is a recognition that the incremental next best product idea, it adds a lot of complexity to clients and customers lives in terms of you know, how to navigate that decision when it’s added, you know, where does it go, you know, you and I talk a lot about asset location, you know, what positions are held in that? How does that combined with all my resources, and I think there’s a recognition that in Jack, I’m just going to say this, I don’t have formal research on this at scale, but we do have some indicated research, people are exhausted, Jack, they’re very tired.

Jack Sharry: Tell me more about that. What do you mean by that?

Michael Liersch: Was it in the past three to five years, you know, we went from one format of living to a different, completely different framework of living and working. And then now we’re coming back into a third way of doing it, which is kind of a hybrid model of, you know, some things now we’re doing more at home, and virtually, sometimes we’re doing it more with human beings. And it’s just a lot for people. You know, people are very adaptable. Human beings are famous for being adaptable, and adaptive, but people are tired. And then we hit uncertainty in the markets, you know, potential future recession, a lot of political ideas to navigate, you know, global economic uncertainty about the sustainability of our globe and the future. It’s a lot for human beings to take in. So I think there’s also this idea, Jakob, let’s lean into that, and what’s most important to people to your point on that purpose. Yeah, and let’s connect the dots there. So we don’t make it so hard for people to make these choices, because they’re overwhelmed. And when people are overwhelmed, you and I both know, they become a nerd. And they just either do nothing, you know, opt out of decision making, or they apply a heuristic, kind of like the famous 401k heuristic, where you, you show them a bunch of target date funds, and they just select them, you know, all of them, but an equal weights, if that makes sense check. So there’s just this recognition that, you know, how do we approach people in a way that gets them to the best place, and I think that’s a beautiful thing, that it’s a beautiful thing that financial services is at that place in our journey, because that then means as think of it as a service, industry and provider, we’re doing what’s right, for human beings, does that resonate with you, Jack?

Jack Sharry: Totally. And so back to life, saying what it is today and where it’s going, let’s talk about that a little bit. Because is that see if I could summarize it. Basically, life saying just gives me a momentary snapshot at any moment around where you know, what I got, and what my goals are, and information that might be useful based on what I’ve, what I’ve identified. And then as you’re collecting more information on that user experience, is more and more curated in terms of give me what I want need. But then I’m assuming that I get that right, right.

Michael Liersch: In the added benefit is your advisor sees that information that you’re thinking about that additional information or information that’s changed, you can click to call your advisor, you can email them at any time in that experience. So just want to add that it’s mostly collaborative, it’s meant to create contact, we know that benefits humans in their financial decision making. So we’re trying to create the collaboration which will get the question

Jack Sharry: Okay, love it. I know in our in our family, would you my wife and I, anytime we have a decision or anything we want to know, who can we collaborate with? Because there’s just too much to know whether it’s finance, or it’s.

Michael Liersch: And you want to do it right, then you don’t want to like wait for the meeting, you know, totally months down the line. Yeah.

Jack Sharry: So now I’m at a point I’m on LifeSync, I got all this information. It’s all there. What happens next, I decide to collaborate, how do we move toward decision making mode? How does that play out? So talk? Talk us through what that started. And I’m assuming this is something to be developed over time. But talk about that, if you would.

Michael Liersch: Three things I’ll highlight and Jack and then we’ve talked about a lot so I’ll try to make them very crisp. The first one that we didn’t discuss is that in LifeSync, what we’ve enabled is a feature where people can actually identify the people that are most important to them that human beings you mentioned your wife Kristen, you can upload their pictures directly from your phone. And you can do the same thing for goals you know, upload pictures, those goals to inspire you. You can associate goals in humans that are subject for an education goal. Amelia is my daughter, you know, I already associated her because I have early access to nursing. So I’ve been using it to the education goal for her and my plan. And so I see her picture tagged to my picture of, and I won’t tell you what, what college I have uploaded.

Jack Sharry: But it’s all the waterjet I guess.

Michael Liersch: I want to Amelia listen to this, so she doesn’t feel you know, like, no pressure. And so where this is going, and you can imagine is, once we have that association, what you can start doing is ultimately, where I’m not saying this is going to happen in months. But you know, next what we can do is start sharing that information within families, you know, and then the second thing I want to highlight is this idea, then you can see where your money is going, Who is it benefiting you, yourself, your spouse, your partner, your family, your children, and is there a lot of people have decision rules here, Jack equal allocation amongst kids, we’re going to create views, which we’ve already designed about what that looks like. So is my money going, where it’s intended to whom it’s intended to go to. And then the third thing I want to mention is that imagine if you were to incorporate things like money movement into here, or, you know, investing, you know, on $1, cost average basis, you know, things that would take the suggestions that advisor makes, and then allow you in that conversation to then implement in collaboration with your advisor, right, then in there, you know, just put money into a 529, because you’re inspired, you ran that scenario, move money, you know, from one account to another because that’s a better place for it to be, you know, by this position by that fund, because that’s going to make your risk allocation, or basically your future goal more attainable. So that’s where this all goes Jack, does that make sense at all, I do a version.

Jack Sharry: Yes, it doesn’t indeed. So I have two grandchildren, and started to contribute to a 529 plan. When my now eight-year-old granddaughter was first born, every Christmas, we put a sum of money in our 529 plan. And recently, I was trying to show my son, the father of our grandchildren, how much money had accumulated. And we’ve added it for our grandson Gus. So on my phone, when I open up my phone, their photos or they hurt, no surprise, every grandparent has their grandchildren on their on their phone in terms of that homepage or whatever. But for me to get the information to my son was doing some personal financial planning, he and his wife, I had to cut and paste and email. And, you know, it was a big fat pain in the neck. And it took a lot of effort. And all I want to do is just show him the number and it’s something that was real. So I love the idea of because I look at my grandchildren every time I pick up my phone, because that’s what matters to me.

Michael Liersch: So imagine, you could give you know in the future, your grandchild an invitation to go into LifeSync and access information that you made viewable to them about your goals, your money associated with them, and to your point, the values attached to it the dollar amount, so not just the value dollar values, but why you were showing them and then give them the ability to look at it and ask you questions interact with you around that. It’s not just about expressing gratitude. But literally, you know, ask you what it means to you and what the expectations are, it starts creating a much more fluid and normalized way of talking about money Jack. And that’s really ultimately where we want to take this is normalizing money conversation, normalizing the connection between money and meeting. Money is not just dollars and cents, we all know from traditional economic theory $1 is not $1 is not $1. It just isn’t dollars earned dollars given these all have completely different utilities or human values to people. And so how do we manifest that? Well, we can do it through life sank. And so we’re just so excited about it.

Jack Sharry: So I’m sure there’s a few of our listeners that are saying, Okay, enough of this hocus pocus stuff you guys are talking about? How about asset allocation and asset location and all that other stuff? How do we make how do we make money here? And if I’m advisor and my livelihood is dependent on doing a good job in that regard, so explain how it plays out. So I got the purpose for this part. How does it play out in terms of the actual management of money and how do you see that playing out with your advisors.

Michael Liersch: When people ask that question, and I think it’s a really critical one I always think of when clients want to work with an advisor, they provide them with the opportunity to provide more products and services Jack. And so that’s my manifestation of that which is okay, so if this is working, then you should see it. Let’s just be very product neutral. You should see more flow. Those coming to that advisor. And flows will just say balance is money, right? So more lending opportunities, more banking opportunities, more investment opportunities, right, let’s broaden the frame here from just investments, right? More transactional opportunities, more advisory opportunities, because, again, it’s client centric, we should do what’s right for the client, there isn’t just one modality, one account type one asset location, right for that. And so what I would say is when we see this working, and we already have seen it in 2022, and I don’t want to get super specific, because that’s proprietary data, Jack, but the lift in flows for advisors who are engaging in the LifeSync process is indisputably higher than those not engaging in the LifeSync process. And so how I would codify that is clients put their money, you know, where the value and experience is giving them the most. And so that’s how I would view that it’s not about account aggregation. It’s not just about asset location, it’s not about that, you know, asset allocation, right. It’s about all those things put together. And the advice, the value of the advice provided, if you look at all the research out there, Jack, it isn’t just Hocus Pocus, it isn’t mumbo jumbo, right? It’s, it’s real. When you provide screw advice, and you really understand what the person is trying to accomplish, it actually leads to specific ideas, you know, should this be in a Roth IRA? Should it be in a Roth 401 K? Should it be in traditional 401k? Ira? Right, you can start really talking about the benefits of thinking through what we would all consider an industry the basics for most humans? That’s not basic, it’s quite complex. It should, how much money should I have, in a bank account? How much money should I have in a money market? Right? How much money? Should I have an advisory account? How much money should I have in a more transaction-based account? You know, what should that asset allocation or risk profile be? You know, a lot of people have concentrated positions, a business, you know, a stock that they bought, or they love, you know, something they got from grandpa, right? Sure. How is that all coming together to really serve the current and future purpose of the wealth for that individual? How are they interacting with a spouse or a partner, and to your point, you know, their family members are at it. That’s complicated stuff, Jack. And so if you get that, right, it’s not surprising that the flows increase is dramatic. It really just isn’t surprising. And then the last thing I’ll say on that is people ask me, Well, how do you know it’s really causal? How do you know it’s really causal? And giving it all the time? And as you know, I’m a data scientist. So I love that question. Because you really have to do some experiment, right? Well, I implemented the licensing process at this point, or I implemented some alternative process, right? And then what happened next, in terms of that business benefit that client benefit, right, NPs Net Promoter Score, whatever it is. And what I say is, it’s probably multiple determined. So why are we all getting fixated on that you could show incremental benefits of just client or human contact, as I mentioned, what I’ve said to people is, regardless of what it is, what you see, is to your point clients and customers flocking to this type of experience flocking Jack, demanding it is no longer optional. Yeah. And then you see advisors, top advisors, our top advisors are always the first users of this type of process. You want to innovate, they want to push themselves, they want to push their clients to do new, better, more exciting things with their money to make the most of it. So to me the causal piece, it’s certainly a great question. I think we know there is a bit of causal, you know, flavor here. But to me, when you see the types of people who are flocking toward this, which are real human beings, and also, you know, really, you know, great productive advisors, it should give you the answer that, wow, we should really lean into this jack, does that answer the business related question?

Jack Sharry: Totally. But here’s their new problem. So I get it as a platform, pardon the expression but as a platform, I get it. But everything you just described, that’s years-worth of work to get all that to work together. Talk about that, if you would you get a lot of work ahead of you, it seems to make all that at that level of sophistication and complexity, make it all work together.

Michael Liersch: We have a lot of work that we’ve already done. So a lot of work behind us is what I would say and a lot of work presently. And we talked about this a little bit before we started this podcast and a lot of work ahead of us for sure. Here’s what I would highlight Jack, if you’re committed. It’s there’s a top down organizational purpose to getting this kind of thing done, which there is at Wells Fargo. It doesn’t take as long as you might think. Because all you have to do is all these problems are solvable. You just have to have the entire organization not only committed to it, but organized around it. So I’ll give you an example, goal repository. Ideally, you have a common set or nomenclature of goals structure around it, so that you can feed it into all these planning engines that you might have a decision-making engines. So we came into an agreement at Wells Fargo, that we’d have the same goals, same structure on those goals in the same repository across our entire organization, Jack. So it’s those types of things that lay the foundation to bring you to the future. So when we think about the future, it’s all predicated on the client and their goals and what they want to accomplish. Really, then honestly, Jack, it’s about incremental experiences, you know, managing because we didn’t talk about this managing debt. And it’s not about paying off your debt. It’s about managing your debt, right? How do I manage my spending? Which is my cash flow, right? How do all the things that feed my balance sheet or opportunities to make the most of my balance sheet come into play. So now, it’s about adding on incremental opportunities, and this vitals section that I mentioned, to help people navigate their wealth, so and then some of those social aspects we talked about. So what I see is, it’s just going to be an ongoing experience, it’s never going to be done. I expect to be doing this for years and years to come, Jack just making it more exciting and more accessible to more human beings in collaboration with the employees and advisors at Wells Fargo. So that’s the idea.

Jack Sharry: Fabulous, we could keep going. I could keep going certainly for much more time. And but we are way over. And I’m glad we are because this has been really, really valuable and fruitful. So one quick question, three key takeaways, what or what would you share with our audience, you’ve covered a lot of ground really groundbreaking stuff, in my estimation, but three key takeaways.

Michael Liersch: Having tough conversations about money and connecting meaning and money isn’t the soft science, it’s a hard science, which gets to the second key piece is you actually have to from a systems in a data standpoint, lay the foundation to capture that information. So then the third thing I would say Jack is you can align it to all the products, services and solutions that will help people make the most of their money. If you didn’t take anything away from this discussion, I would take that away. Because ultimately that is life saying Jack from a financial services standpoint, and then you can design the experiences that will resonate most with people you know, scrolling, uploading pictures, connecting all those dots for people, you know, in that becomes fun once you lay that foundation on 123.

Jack Sharry: Exciting stuff. Exciting stuff. You’ve been telling me about this for a while I saw a demo, but just this conversation has very, very exciting. So congratulations on the great work you’ve done so far. I know much more to come. One last question. You’ve been on before. You’ve answered this a couple different ways. I’m curious to see what you’ll say this time around what’s something you do outside of work that is fun and exciting you’re passionate about? I know you’re a huge fan of your daughter. Tell us what’s sort of fun and exciting, Michael versus life beyond what you do on your day job.

Michael Liersch: Well, it will be related to my daughter because she’s number one. And I think I’ve said this to you. And I’ve always apologize to my wife, but she knows that he’s never won. So my daughter is becoming a really extraordinary squash player. I’ve been I don’t play squash myself, although she’s lured me in to the court and then I can’t walk the next day Jack. Hopefully, we have we’ve had a great time as a family going to squash tournaments around the country. And then we’re going to go to actually Singapore. And she’s gonna play some squash there this summer. So we’re becoming a squash family. Jackson, who knows no, no learning all the different ins and outs of Squash. Squash is huge in Egypt. And so that was fun to learn to we went to Egypt in March, and there were life sized banners by far larger than life banners on like skyscrapers of, you know, male and female squash champions. It was just authored for my daughters. So that’s, that’s what’s going on the leash family today.

Jack Sharry: That’s great. It’s great. So Michael, thank you. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our conversation as I do every time we talk. I think this is the pinnacle so far. I expect we’ll have a few more conversations along these lines over time for audience if you’ve enjoyed our podcast, please rate review, subscribe and share what we’re doing here at wealth deck on deck. We’re available wherever you get your podcasts and Michael again. Thank you. This has been a real pleasure and I look forward to our next conversation.

Michael Liersch: Me too, Jack. Thank you so much.