On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Ryan Burklo on the show to discuss financial planning for small business owners. Ryan Burklo, RICP® is a financial planner, host of the podcast Holistic Finance, and co-owner of Quantified Financial Partners. Through his work as a financial planner, he works with medical practice owners to protect their practice, keep them financially efficient and assist with their eventual exit.
In this episode, we discuss:
-How to manage debt financing and make it work for you
-What is tax efficient cash flow planning?
-Retirement options for small business owners
-The conversations you need to bring up with your financial advisor
-And so much more!
A big thank you to Net Health for sponsoring this episode!
Check out Optima’s Top Trends For Outpatient Therapy In 2020!
For more information on Ryan:
Ryan Burklo, RICP® is a financial planner, host of the podcast Holistic Finance, and co-owner of Quantified Financial Partners.
He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two kids. After learning his son had a stroke while in utero he became an avid volunteer for Pediatric Stroke Warriors. He learned much about the medical professionals who cared for his son and truly enjoyed working with them both on a personal and a professional level.
Through his work as a financial planner, he works with medical practice owners to protect their practice, keep them financially efficient and assist with their eventual exit.
His firm and his personal mission is to simplify finances so that you can focus on what you enjoy most.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:01 Hey Ryan, welcome to the podcast. I'm happy to have you on.
Ryan Burklo: 00:06 Thanks for having me. Appreciate the invite.
Karen Litzy: 00:08 Yeah. And you know we're getting onto the end of the year and people are starting to think, look back on the year, look forward to next year talking about their businesses and maybe how they can move forward, expand, stay the same. Lots of stuff. But today we're going to talk about kind of the business side of things. And I absolutely love having people like you on the program because I didn't go to school to be a financial planner. I don't, I don't know what I, you know, this is not my specialty. So I love having folks like you on because I feel like I learned so much from you guys, plants and seeds in me that make me think, Hmm, maybe I need to make some changes in my practice. So thank you for coming on. Cause I'm definitely excited.
Ryan Burklo: 01:06 Yeah, I again appreciate being on. I actually started laughing when you said you didn't go to school to be a financial planner cause I was about to say neither did I. I think very few of us actually go to school to officially become a financial planner. I think it just kind of molds it's weighing falls into our lap. You know, life's events occur in the next, you know, you're, you know, you're in the industry and so it's very interesting. Had you told me that I would be a financial planner when I got out of college, I would have said you're drunk. I love what I do.
Karen Litzy: 01:41 Yeah. And here you are helping and I should mention that you do work with a lot of medical practices.
Ryan Burklo: 01:50 Yeah, that's really a majority of our focus is helping medical practices on the business side and merging that with the person side. Cause eventually we all exit our practice in some way, shape or form. And it turns into the personal side. So, you know, the two are married, yet business owners tend to only focus, they focus more on the business side because you know that that's the fun side. That's what they do every day.
Karen Litzy: 02:19 Exactly. Exactly. And so it's great to have people like you guys to help guide us through that. And now, you know, I've been taught, this has been in the news quite a bit. I had, you know interviewed someone a couple of weeks ago about debt and we hear debt a lot in the news. Mainly the focus is student loan debt, but there's all kinds of debt, right? And when you're a business owner, you may be in debt, you may not be in debt. But my question is, can debt work for you? Can it be a good thing sometimes.
Ryan Burklo: 02:56 Yeah. Yeah. I mean the quick answer is absolutely yes. You know, you brought up the media and everything we're hearing in the news and right now it's a lot of student loans. But you know, oftentimes there's also, you know, just debt is bad is the mantra and you should pay it off as fast as possible. And in some scenarios that makes sense in other scenarios that doesn't, you know, really depends on what kind of debt it is. You know, credit card debt for the most part isn't the best that I have because it tends to be high interest rate, right? You're getting in the double digits, 16, 17, 20% or so. But then there's other debts. Student loans can be one of them. You know, mortgages on real estate and other debts that are lower interest rates and you have to look at it at, if I'm going to put a dollar towards that debt, if I put my dollar elsewhere, how would that act?
Ryan Burklo: 03:52 How would that do differently? Right? And so the simple example of that is, you know, right now you can get a mortgage really, really inexpensive, you know, 3.8% or something like that on a 30 year mortgage. And so if your dollar can be put back into the business or put elsewhere and beat 3.8 at a relatively low low risk, well then you'd be better off putting your dollar elsewhere. Cause then you'd be making money on your money so you're leveraging that debt so your money can work harder. Whereas the credit card debt that I mentioned, you know it's a 20% interest rate. Well now I used to be 20% that's a lot harder and the risk is a lot higher.
Karen Litzy: 04:38 Got it. So, so for instance, if you take on the debt of a mortgage, whether that be, you know, let's say you bought a building for your practice or you bought space for your practice and like you said, the interest rate is 3.8% then that might be a good thing for your business because you're putting that money to better use for you or the equity is in the building is good. Is that kind of what you mean?
Ryan Burklo: 05:07 Well, to put it in another way, if you had $1 million of cash or $1 million sitting somewhere and you went to buy real estate and real estate was worth $1 million, we get to put the whole thing down, the million dollars sitting wherever it's sitting versus getting a debt and having to pay interest on that debt. You have to analyze what could that million dollars would be doing for you, and if that million dollars could be doing something better than a 3.8% yeah, we were just talking about why would you give the full million dollars to the bank. Got it, got it. And then you have the flexibility between it. All, right? Even if you're, maybe if you're just breaking even some people will get nervous about that too. We'll, again, you've got $1 million. How much more can you do with other stuff in your business because you've got that rather than just giving it to the bank, what type of flexibility do you possibly lose?
Karen Litzy: 06:15 Got it. Got it.
Ryan Burklo: 06:16 So that's just a simple example that I like to use. And that's not to say that you shouldn't pay off some debts. It does go by case by case, but you have to look at what your dollar could be doing elsewhere. And does that make more sense rather than only looking at it, well, Ryan, I'm going to pay more interest over 30 years. That's 100% true. And what could that dollar the other dollars be doing over the next 30 years?
Karen Litzy: 06:42 Got it, got it. So it could mean the difference between investing it into something that's going to give you a higher return or putting it to use elsewhere instead of hiring another doctor.
Ryan Burklo: 06:54 Well, another position that's going to grow revenue by X percent, that might be the better solution.
Karen Litzy: 07:04 Got it. Got it. See, this is why, you know, my brain does not work this way. This is why I need someone to kind of break it down and explain it to me as if you were explaining it to like a fourth grader.
Ryan Burklo: 07:18 Yeah. Well, my industry doesn't like to do that, but we like to confuse people. I try to make it as simple as possible because that annoys the crap out of me.
Karen Litzy: 07:25 Yeah. I appreciate that. All right, so that's a great way that we can kind of make debt work for us. If you have, are there other ways, I guess that you can make debt work for you? Any other easy, simple examples?
Ryan Burklo: 07:48 I threw a couple of examples just in that one. It's really about, again, it's just leveraging what you currently have. And so if you can get a loan, well, you know, let's just say we have a bit of a widget maker, right? And the widget maker needs to buy a machine to make more widgets. And they've got, they can go get a loan on it for X percent or they can just buy it in full. Well, what makes the most sense for your business? How are you leveraging your money to make it work as hard as possible for you? So it's a constant analysis of leveraging where the leverage is. Does it make more sense, can your money work harder outside of giving it to the bank?
Karen Litzy: 08:43 Got it. Yeah. So if you were to pay in full and you can make more widgets and sell more widgets to make more money, that might make more sense than making payments on that piece of equipment.
Ryan Burklo: 08:54 Exactly.
Karen Litzy: 08:55 Got it. All right. Excellent. Now I got it. Thank you so much. Sorry for being a little slow on the uptake there. Now the other thing that I really wanted to talk about is this idea of tax efficiency, cashflow. So in going through your website, I saw this and I thought, hmmm.
Karen Litzy: 09:16 This is really interesting to me because I don't know that I'm being as efficient as possible. So can you explain what tax efficiency cashflow means under the lens of, you know, your small business owner?
Ryan Burklo: 09:31 Yeah. So there's two sides of taxes, right? There's the taxes that you're going to pay now, right. Where the income that came in the door minus the deductions and everything that we can take as a business owner, what's leftover and what we're going to pay on taxes from that on the business side as well as from the income side and that's based on the rules and laws that are in place this year, 2019 then there's the tax side of what am I going to get taxed on 15 years from now, 10 years from now, 30 years from now, depending on where my money and my assets are sitting. That's the side that most people don't really consider because what they're only considered is I want to pay as little money in taxes this year.
Karen Litzy: 10:21 Yes, yes. Right.
Ryan Burklo: 10:24 So the next question you have to ask yourself, okay, 10 years from now or five years from now or whatever time period that is, where do I think taxes are going to go? And obviously we can't predict this. Oftentimes it depends on who's in office and what's going on in the economy, all that kind of fun stuff. But if you're of the opinion that taxes are going up, should you have a lot of money and assets where you have not paid taxes on yet?
Karen Litzy: 10:54 Yes. All right. I got it right.
Ryan Burklo: 10:56 Yeah, exactly. Because you've deferred the tax. So essentially if it taxes went up, now you're gonna pay more in taxes. Conversely, it taxes go down within, you wanted to defer the tax. And the problem is, is we don't know. And so much of this is,
Karen Litzy: 11:11 It's a gamble.
Ryan Burklo: 11:13 It's a balance is what I put in. So we talked about financial balance quite a bit and it's because we don't want all of our eggs in one basket, right? We don't want all of our assets to be tax deferred because what happens if tax go up? Conversely, like I just said, if taxes go down. Whereas we have our assets in different buckets now we can actually control what tax bracket we're in five, 10 20, 30 years from now. Just like kind of what we're doing right now in terms of lowering our tax bill this year.
Karen Litzy: 11:47 And so when you're looking at balancing and not having all your eggs in one basket, where would those eggs be?
Ryan Burklo: 11:57 Yeah, so it depends on what you're building in your medical practice or in your business. If your plan is, you know, take a solo practice, you know, at one doc and you know, the chances of a one doc practice being able to sell it is not very high, especially they're required. They're the ones that bring in the money anyways, right? You can't sell something if you're the person that you're trying to sell. So oftentimes those types of practices, they have to build side retirement accounts. Okay. Right? These are your traditional IRAs, your simple IRAs, your standard retirement accounts. And so you could be putting a bunch of money into those accounts where you deferred the taxes. So that's one asset. But we could be talking about, it's also an event. Conversely, if you've got the multiple doc practice, we've had a couple of partners and maybe it's an inside, say on, you're actually transitioning one doc out. Well, how do you consider the taxation of the business? What's the cost basis, and then how are we going to sell it? Oftentimes in insider sales, what they call that, oftentimes no one writes a lump sum check and says, here you go, doc, you're gone. It's normally let me pay you in installments over the next 10 years. I see. Okay, so now you have more taxes going on there.
Karen Litzy: 13:27 Oh, cause you, yeah. So you, if you are the doc that left the practice, you're paying taxes on that money that is coming to you in installments.
Ryan Burklo: 13:37 Correct. And if you're the doctor bought them out to pay that doctor, you need the revenue of your practice to be doing a certain amount. So there's taxations on both sides of that equation.
Karen Litzy: 13:50 Right, right. Oh my gosh. These are things like, I really thought you got bought out in one lump sum. That's why when you said that I started laughing, I'm like, Oh, okay. Yeah. I guess installments does make more sense.
Ryan Burklo: 14:04 Yeah. Do lump sum sales occur. Absolutely. That's not, that's not what normally occurs. What normally occurs is here's a 10 year buyout plan.
Karen Litzy: 14:15 Got it. That does actually make a lot more sense.
Ryan Burklo: 14:20 So yeah, the steps that I have our clients consider is, you know, which type of practice or which type of business are you, are you wanting to build for one? Are you building the business where you're at? And essentially you just kind of run off into the sunset and business kind of goes with you or you trying to build a practice or a business that you can actually sell. And early on it's kind of hard to know that, but as you're growing, you start to picture, you start to build towards one of those. And once you know that now you can get more efficient with your money and what's going on and where to put it, how to get after it. While it's taking into considerations, obviously we don't want to pay a lot of taxes right now, so how does this all come together in one cohesive plan? That's the conversation that people should be having with their advisors.
Karen Litzy: 15:14 Great. No, this is great. Yeah. And you know, we, you sort of mentioned the 401ks and setting up for retirement and things like that. And you know, I think we're, like I said, we're going into a new year, we're going into 2020, and maybe there are some listeners out there who are newer practice owners or perhaps they have not thought about their own retirement at the moment because they're building up their business. But can we talk a little bit about how one goes about setting up a retirement plan again, under that lens of a small business?
Ryan Burklo: 15:55 Yeah. So, you know, really depends on, you know, how many employees we've got. What type of plan do we have any employees that are what we would call a key employee. And so what I mean by key employee, if you have an employee that if they quit or left and it either cost you a lot of money because they were the customer service side of the business or they were the office managers. So now you've got to go train and hire someone else and go do their work. So you can build in a retirement plan that, that helps keep that employee active and engaged in yours. And you're a business. And that can also be part of that transition that we were just talking about as well. And so, so, so much of it is what is it we're trying to build?
Ryan Burklo: 16:47 If we're looking with a starter business that you were just talking about and if you've got a couple employees, you know, it's looking at something like a simple IRA. That way it's low cost, easy to set up. You can set up matching type of contributions for your employees. You know, you can do like a 3% type match where you can go as low as 1% in the simple that allows your employees to be able to contribute and you match. Now they don't contribute, then you don't have to match. Right. And it's low cost. The 401K side of things is more, it's better for when you have a lot more employees, like 20 plus because there's more costs involved and it gets a little bit more intricate. That's when you can start to design it and really mess with a bunch of different things. And because you can mess with a bunch of different things, it costs money.
Karen Litzy: 17:40 Got it. So if you have a couple of employees, I like this simple IRA, a 401k for a larger company. How about if it's just you, you're a solo practitioner. How do you set up, what is your retirement plan look like?
Ryan Burklo: 17:58 Yeah. Yeah. So you could do a set by IRA if it's just you and you don't plan on hiring any employees you can do the traditional IRA route as well. Then there's Roth IRA, so you can still do that, that standard stuff. The SEP has more, has a higher contribution limit than say the traditional
Karen Litzy: 18:16 And what does SEP mean? So for people who aren't familiar with what that is exactly.
Ryan Burklo: 18:27 Yeah. So the simple IRA, well, I'm sorry, you mentioned the SEP IRA, sorry about that. So if you're looking at the SEP IRA, we're looking at a simplified employment. I'm sorry, I've got that all backwards now. The simplified employment pension is what that stands for. So SEP, S E P simplified employee pension. Okay. And the reason they call it that is, is just for yourself. And you're kind of setting yourself up for your own retirement plan, which is why the word pension is in there. It gets a little confusing. It's pension. Most people think of a pension has guarantees. It's not necessarily guaranteed, it's just setting yourself up with a plan for retirement.
Karen Litzy: 19:10 Got it, got it. So as a solo practitioner, you've got a couple of different options, and again, this is where sort of you're taxed now or taxed then, is that right? Depending on like a traditional versus a Roth.
Ryan Burklo: 19:28 Correct. So the traditional side is what they would call qualified money. That's tax deferred. You're deferring paying the taxes this year, you'll pay it when you start to pull the money out. The Roth IRA is you're paying the taxes this year on your money, it grows tax deferred and you can pull the money out, tax free passed age 59 and a half.
Karen Litzy: 19:54 But with the Roth IRA, if you make a certain amount of money, you can't contribute to it. Is that correct?
Ryan Burklo: 20:02 Yes, there are limitations. There are what they would call a backdoor roth IRA option where you can do, you can kind of go round that rule and there's a bunch of implications there depending on from taxation standpoint. But in general, there are some income limitations to do a direct contribution to a Roth IRA
Karen Litzy: 20:26 Yeah. And again, does that matter what state you live in or is that a federal thing?
Ryan Burklo: 20:32 That's a federal thing
Ryan Burklo: 20:38 IRA's contribution is $6,000 contribution limit below the age of 50.
Karen Litzy: 20:46 Right, right. Okay. Awesome. And like I have sort of a mix of all of these things, but I've been, you know, kind of contributing to this for many years. So let's say your in your thirties and you don't have any of this setup yet, are you done?
Ryan Burklo: 21:08 Not at all. No, not at all. I mean, unless, unless you're planning on retiring when you're age 31 then maybe.
Karen Litzy: 21:17 Right, right, right, right.
Ryan Burklo: 21:19 You know, step one, have a conversation with a professional that understands what you're building for. And I know we're talking about retirement plans, but you know, I'm really of the opinion of what, what do you have set up for yourself prior to a retirement plan? Like if you don't have, say an emergency fund set up, start there. Like you don't have to contribute to a retirement plan. The retirement plan is not the savior for your financial status. It really isn't like you can have all of your money outside of retirement plan and actually still retire.
Ryan Burklo: 21:57 There's this misnomer out there that when you have to put everything into a retirement plan and you know, for retirement only purposes, yeah, that's a good place to put money. But what can happen to a 30 year old prior to retirement over the next 10, 20, 30 years? A lot. A lot, right? Practice, growth opportunities, buying a house, selling a house, a bunch of different things. So having your money in what we would call a liquid type of asset where you can actually get after it without having to pay a bunch of taxes and penalties is something to really consider first prior to a retirement plan.
Karen Litzy: 22:41 Yeah, that makes sense. Because like you said, a lot can happen between your thirties to retirement at 70 or 75. Got it. So setting up that emergency fund and looking at your, kind of what we spoke about earlier, looking at your debt ratios and how can you make that work for you and look at what taxes you're paying now and how you're paying them. And then finally then looking at, well, what do I need for retirement? What do I need to do for retirement that makes sense for me right now because I can put money elsewhere. Like you said, maybe it's into real estate buying a home or something like that. Oh my gosh. There's so much to think about.
Ryan Burklo: 23:23 Yeah. The biggest thing, I've already said this once, I'll say it again. You know, I was talking about taxes. It's also where your money sitting. Again, don't put all your eggs in one basket. If you have your money in different sovereign account, you know, some in retirement plans, some in just a straight investment, some in real estate, some in savings. When you have that kind of diversification of where your money's sitting, how much more flexible is your life just from a financial standpoint?
Karen Litzy: 23:52 Yeah, I would think much more flexible.
Ryan Burklo: 23:55 A ton more flexible because of everything sending or retirement plan and you want to pull some money out to put into the practice. That might be the best thing to do, but you probably didn't pay taxes and penalties. Right,
Karen Litzy: 24:07 Right. So then you're kind of losing money there. Exactly.
Karen Litzy: 24:12 No, that makes a lot of sense. Lots of sense. This is really good stuff. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Now, something that I know you guys do is you look at people's sort of financial wellbeing, if you will, but you also look at the person themselves, right? And so what are some things that maybe we can look at as ourselves at our business kind of reflect upon for next year? Like what, you know, cause I know that your process is a little bit different. You're really looking at not, like I said, not just the business or the cashflow, but you're looking at the person and their goals and visions and things like that. So how do you, what advice do you have for listeners out there who kind of want to get their financial house in order? But I'm sure there are some things to think about before you even have that discussion.
Ryan Burklo: 25:13 You know, there's maybe two or three things I'll say to you, to your question. The first and foremost, and this is often not spoke about, and this is going to sound probably kind of weird, is what is your philosophy with your finances? What is your value? Right? So in my family, when we'd look at money, right? It's not about, especially in medical practice and naturopath, some physical therapists, right? Like typically you're not getting into the industry to make a ton of money, although that might be a byproduct you're getting into it to help a bunch of people, right? So the value of the money oftentimes when asked that question is, well, I want to help as many people. Well, to do that, my practice has to be very successful.
Ryan Burklo: 26:02 Like without the cashflow coming into the practice and building that growth in the practice. How are you helping more and more people, maybe it's a different way, but what does that philosophy, what that does that that alone will have you direct where your money's going. Okay. And then step after you have that kind of philosophy. Step two is going to be more around where is it you are currently at? Like, how do we, how would like, you could do a quick net worth equation, right? Like add up all of your assets, checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, add up all your liabilities, student loans, cards, mortgages, and then so track the two numbers. That's your networth as it is today. And if you did exactly what I just said, we actually listed out your assets in one column, listed out your liabilities on the other column. You just got a lot of your balance, your balance sheet on one page. How many people I've ever seen that even though that's a simple activity to do.
Karen Litzy: 27:09 Yeah. Yeah. Great.
Ryan Burklo: 27:12 And then you can look at what you’re building next year. Okay. If your plan is to hire another doctor or buy real estate or invest in your practice more, what's your plan? How are you currently sitting and how could you possibly do that if you don't have liquid cash and liquidity to do that? Well now you're first, you know, your first step next year. It's actually having some money set aside that's liquid or accessible to do that.
Karen Litzy: 27:41 Yeah. So really like you said, having your philosophy, your values, and your goals. Look at what you have and what you don't have and see if you can help make a plan for 2020 I think that's great advice.
Ryan Burklo: 27:57 Yeah, it's, you know, money in America's taboo, right. It's a taboo topic to talk about it. We don't like talking about it. We don't even know half the time we don't even talk to our children about it. Right. And it's a taboo factor. It's a business factor. It's all this wrapped in one and for someone to take, especially as business owners, you know, we're wearing what sturdy different hats. One of those hats needs to be CFO. Right. So in your, hopefully we're taking a day out of the business to look at how the business is financially and that could be an exercise for that.
Karen Litzy: 28:33 Yeah. I like that. Taking a financial business day.
Ryan Burklo: 28:39 Yeah.
Karen Litzy: 28:40 I really love it. I'm going to start doing that. I have to put it into my calendar cause you know, if it's not in the calendar it doesn't get done.
Ryan Burklo: 28:48 Yup. I'm like you, I get it.
Karen Litzy: 28:51 Yeah. Yeah. This is great. Thank you so much. Is there anything that we kind of didn't touch upon that you're like, Ooh, I really wanted your listeners to get this info?
Ryan Burklo: 29:02 You know, the biggest piece that I want your listeners to get and really anyone to get is have conversations about money with someone you know and trust.
Karen Litzy: 29:14 Yep. That's great advice.
Ryan Burklo: 29:15 It really is that simple because it starts there.
Karen Litzy: 29:21 Yeah, you're right. It does. And we don't talk about it enough. I know I'd have, I probably don't talk about it enough and need, probably need a little more guidance and things like that. So I think that's great advice. So have more conversations about money with people you trust is great advice. And now my question that I always ask everyone, speaking of advice is knowing where you are now in your practice and in life, what advice would you give to yourself right out of college? Especially knowing that what you said at the beginning of the podcast here, but as someone said, you'd be a financial advisor. You'd be like, what?
Ryan Burklo: 30:03 I think it would have been slow down. Mmm Hmm.
Karen Litzy: 30:08 Yeah.
Ryan Burklo: 30:09 I was your traditional person that got out of college and said, I want to retire early. And so I hit the ground running and I started just grinding away. And not that that's a bad thing, but you know, as I've gotten married and have kids, I look back at that time and I'm like, you know, I could have done a couple of different things. I'd just slowed down and it wouldn't have affected me in a negative way the way I thought. And even if it affected me in a negative way, it might've been worth it.
Karen Litzy: 30:37 Right. Yeah. A lot of people say that same thing and it's always kind of slowed down and you know, enjoy where you are in the moment and you are not alone in that train of thought. For sure. Well, Ryan, thanks so much. Where can people find you?
Ryan Burklo: 30:55 Yeah. So if you want to go to quantifiedfinancial.com and you can find all the information you could possibly want about me, whether you like it or not.
Karen Litzy: 31:07 Perfect. And of course we'll have a link to the website at podcast.healthywealthysmart.com under this episode. So one click will take you all to Ryan's info about his company and their philosophy and how they work. And I highly suggest you click on over there. So Ryan, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. And we did a nice podcast swap, which I always love to do. So thanks so much.
Ryan Burklo: 31:35 Absolutely. I appreciate being on.
Karen Litzy: 31:37 And everyone, thanks so much for listening. Have a great a couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.
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