The X’s & O’s

Join financial advisors Brent, Matthew and Joshua as they reflect on their personal financial plans. Topics Discussed: starting a business, saving for retirement, buying a home and changing a career.

Listen to the podcast episode…

The Hosts:

Brent Pasqua, Matthew Theal and Joshua Winterswyk



Matthew Theal: Welcome to the Retirement Plan Playbook, I’m Matthew Theal, a financial advisor at RPA wealth management. Joining us on today’s show is Brent Pasqua, the president of RPA. Brent, how are you doing today?

Brent Pasqua: Outstanding Matthew, how are you?

Matthew Theal: Great. How’s your 2020 going?

Brent Pasqua: It’s off to a good start, Matthew.

Matthew Theal: Great. And with us, as always, is a financial advisor with RPA Wealth Management, Joshua Winterswyk. Josh, how are you doing?

Joshua Winterswyk: I’m doing well, Matt. Thanks.

Matthew Theal: 2020 treating you well?

Joshua Winterswyk: Everything’s going good so far.

Matthew Theal: Any fun moments or anything you want to tell the listeners about?

Joshua Winterswyk: No, just off to a good start. So ready to get ready to get the podcast and the new decade rolling.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, for sure. And today we actually have a fun show lined up. We’re going to review the last decade and we’re going to do it a little differently than most decade and review podcasts. We’re actually going to kind of talk about our own personal financial plans and what happened to us over the last 10 years and how it kind of shaped where we’re going today. And let’s get it started. Brent, so tell me, where were you 10 years ago? What were you doing? That would have been 2010.

Brent Pasqua: So in 2010 I was at a previous firm, the firm was focused more on insurance products and not so much financial planning, although for myself, we were heading a lot in that direction, but they were still not going there and I was really taking time to then consider leaving that and starting RPA wealth management and that’s right when that was getting rolling. And 2010, early 2010 is when I started dating my wife, who’s now my wife, so I mean that was a great year and there was a lot of transition that happened in that year that led me to where I’m at today.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, absolutely. So I think the listeners would probably want to know about starting the business. So I know that’s a really popular topic that we get a lot of people who hire us on. How did that work for you? How did you actually start your own business?

Brent Pasqua: Well, I had been working in the industry for some years now I had started in around 2004 and with that I had already built up several clients, I had clients that I had brought in and taken on and been working with for many years at that point. And when you start to work with a lot of clients, I think one of the things that you experience is that a lot of clients have different needs and you want to be able to help them in their best way possible. In order to do that, because everybody is so different you have to have extensive planning software, you have to have the capabilities to work with the clients, you have to have the knowledge to be at work with the clients and you had to be somewhat obviously creative, so it’s like an art and a science.

Brent Pasqua: And if you’re working somewhere that doesn’t give you those capabilities then it’s time to move. So from that point, because I had clients, I knew it was just a matter of putting some of the infrastructure in place and as soon as we made the move to open up our shop, we were often running.

Matthew Theal: So I think when a lot of people go to start a business, one of their biggest obstacles is probably fear, right? Fear they’re going to fail, fear there’s not going to be a paycheck. How do you overcome that fear? Did you save?

Brent Pasqua: Yeah, you have to save money and you have to really create a business plan that you know is going to work. I mean you got to outline your plan and you have to start laying out what your expenses are going to be, what you think your cashflow is going to be and how many people you can afford to pay. And you have to put some of those really hard business structures in place and you have to find a location that’s going to work for you, that’s going to work for your clients.

Brent Pasqua: So there was a lot of time that was spent and actually at that time what I did because I had already revenue going into those years because I had been working in the industry, I did bring in a consultant that kind of helped me lay out some of the landscapes of areas where because I had never started a business before, it gave me some of the experiences that I would need to start that business and that was very helpful.

Matthew Theal: So you were investing in your business before you even had a business by hiring a consultant to kind of give you advice on how to get started.

Brent Pasqua: Yes. And that cleaned up the areas of things that I didn’t know at the time.

Matthew Theal: Very smart.

Joshua Winterswyk: How many years did you work at the other firm before you started RPA?

Brent Pasqua: I was there for about nine years, yeah. And the last three to five years, I knew that that time was coming to an end, I mean it was just very different than the way the industries is being done today.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, totally. Josh, what about yourself? Tell me where were you in 2010?

Joshua Winterswyk: I was finishing my last year in college and I was at Cal state San Bernardino here locally and I had already gotten a job at a Citibank on the retail banking side. And due that time, I was looking for internships and jobs with investment firms and trying to be a stock broker and that’s what I studied in college was finance and there was nothing or nobody hiring, obviously 2009 and 10 recovering from the market crash. And so it was just a really interesting time studying finance and finishing up my degree. I remember just a kind of a quick funny story, one of the finance teachers ripped out a theory in one of the finance textbooks because of 2008 and just saying this no longer applies. So that was just a really interesting time for me to start my career in finance was right after a market crash. So I learned a lot through that period and started at Citibank right before I finished college and continued on there for about five years.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. Graduating college in 2008 through 2000 and probably 12 was probably about the worst time you could go into the investment industry in the history would be my guess.

Joshua Winterswyk: Oh yeah, it was bad.

Matthew Theal: Really bad. Yeah, I experienced that as well. In 2010 I was living in New York city, but I ended up there because I couldn’t find a job out here in 2008 when I graduated college and I was working for a website called Minyon Bill and doing editing, writing, lots of research. It was fine, very cold in New York, I don’t know if you guys know that.

Joshua Winterswyk: I’ve been there when it’s cold.

Matthew Theal: Not so much fun, but I mean in 2011 I decided to quit the job and come out here without a job, I moved back home and then luckily I’m at Brent.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah, I mean you were looking for a job. I needed some help on portfolio management and it was a pretty good match.

Matthew Theal: Hire the least qualified guy, the cheapest you could afford with that new business?

Brent Pasqua: Hey, you did a fantastic job and you haven’t gone away since.

Matthew Theal: So Brent, on your plan, besides starting the business, what are some other things that kind of happened to you over the last 10 years?

Brent Pasqua: Well, I got married and we obviously started the firm and we’ve grown the business with new clients and I feel like we’ve done a tremendous job changing the lives of clients ever since then. So we’ve made a tremendous amount of advancements, I had kids since then, so my life looks a lot different now than it did 10 years ago. I feel like I was so young at that time and there’s so much more now to my life with work and with my family 10 years from then.

Matthew Theal: So you had kids while you were starting a new business, I’m sure that created a lot of challenges. Tell me about those.

Brent Pasqua: Whenever you step out there obviously is that concern but then at the same time I felt comfortable with the team that we had built around and the clients that we had and even though my son was just being born, there really wasn’t any hiccups and I was able to still spend time with my son and go through all his young ages and then the firm just kept on growing.

Matthew Theal: Any financial challenges from having kids that you could think of or are they kind of easy until they hit a certain age and then they start costing more money?

Brent Pasqua: I think it’s manageable. I mean, obviously there’s a lot to buy when they’re young, but it is manageable and as they get older, they do get more expensive, that’s for sure.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. As our parents could probably attest, right? By the time we were like 16, 17 years old, it’s pretty expensive.

Brent Pasqua: And college isn’t cheap nowadays.

Matthew Theal: No, it’s not. Joshua, I believe, what year did you buy your condo? Was it 11, 12 were you still working at Citibank?

Joshua Winterswyk: It was actually a few years after that. I want to say it was 2015, no, 14.

Matthew Theal: So what happened between 10 and 15?

Joshua Winterswyk: So I was working on at City Group and was just kind of starting my venture in finance and really enjoyed my time there and learned a lot. We did everything from retail banking to kind of the mortgage side and the retirement account side and just a really good place to learn and learn even about the compliance side of finance. And so through that period I had saved and I knew I wanted to get out of my parents’ house and I saved up to buy a condo. So that was my first real big financial decision, and event. It was a goal that I had from when I graduated college all the way up until I purchased my condo.

Joshua Winterswyk: And so that was one big event. And then I think it was the year after is when I made a move or I decided to start at RPA Wealth Management. Brent was my mentor through college and so whenever I had specific questions or just kind of needed someone to talk to, he was there and kind of I guess watched me as I kind of grew. And then in 2015 was it Brent? I think it was 15 I started at RPA Wealth Management.

Matthew Theal: So you made a big career change?

Joshua Winterswyk: I did, yeah. And it was primarily based on that corporate City Group side really has their own agenda and they wanted to push me into a kind of a direction that I didn’t really see myself in and I knew that I always wanted to do investment management and financial planning.

Joshua Winterswyk: I didn’t know at that time I wanted to do as comprehensive financial planning as we’re doing now, I kind of obviously through research and education have found the love for it and figure it out that that’s really what I wanted was to help people on a more deeper level. And so making the move to RPA Wealth Management and knowing that RPA wealth management was doing financial planning, which city group wasn’t and wasn’t really pushing me on that direction anyway, it was a big decision. But so far it’s just been nothing but rewarding and really happy that I made that decision and I’m here today.

Brent Pasqua: We saved you from the bank.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah. I can’t say bad things about it like that big financial moment that I was able to save for through the money I made there. So I had a place to live, I got some experience, I learned a lot, but it definitely was not… looking back at, it was not somewhere I wanted to be long-term. I was very happy to leave there.

Brent Pasqua: Except we make you work on President’s Day and some of those other days.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, that’s true.

Brent Pasqua: We don’t have bank holidays anymore.

Joshua Winterswyk: That’s true. No more bank holidays, no more volunteer days but you get paid for. So it is different but it is really what I didn’t know at the time I wanted to do. When I was graduating college I thought being a financial advisor meant you just talk about investments it’s stock picking, it’s mutual fund portfolio design, and I had no real idea at that point that there was a lot more to financial planning than just the simple recommendation in the investment management.

Matthew Theal: Any challenges and kind of learning, transitioning from being a banker to an advisor, did you have to get more education?

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, absolutely. So with a finance degree and as you know, I mean you have one too, they speak a little bit about financial planning but it’s not the primary topic within your four year degree.

Joshua Winterswyk: But yes starting in the investment advisory firms side and leaving the bank, it was a lot different. They’re longer conversations with clients, they are more in depth and a lot of it also is understanding the behavioral side of finance and the emotional side of it because when you’re talking to someone about their retirement and doing more in depth planning, there’s just a lot more that goes into a financial plan than just selling a mortgage or a checking account or a credit card on that retail banking side, or even an IRA account that we’re putting into a three year CD at 2% whatever it’s going to be. So obviously with that being more responsibility for your clients too, needed more education. And this last decade I went and got my CFP as well which was a big educational step for me and helped me with the confidence to provide even better service for clients.

Matthew Theal: Any advice maybe for someone who’s listening today who would maybe want to do a career change like you did?

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, I would definitely. Education to start there, I mean I think it not only is going to just help with advancing your career, giving you the confidence and I think knowledge is, I know it’s kind of cliche, but knowledge is power. And if it is in the financial services industry and you want to do planning, if it’s someone listening out there that wants to do that, start with your CFP. Go get it as fast as you can even if it’s you’re still at your job and you can’t take the test yet, go out there and really get that CFP education done.

Matthew Theal: Absolutely. And then I would say that networking with Brent probably helped a lot too since he was the one guy who had the confidence in you to bring you over.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m super grateful kind of if we’re doing a decade reflection, super grateful that he gave me an opportunity, but it was, we always kept in contact, he was my mentor and I really appreciated that and that’s how I also knew that it was someone that I wanted to work for and developing that relationship and understanding how relationships can lead to good things.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. Brent is a great person on my own side very similar story is yours, but it was 2012 I was doing some freelance work and I believe it’s probably the beginning of… no, it was the end of 2012 Brent asked me to come in and help him trade some portfolios. If you don’t mind, I’m going to say what you paid me.

Brent Pasqua: I don’t even remember what it was.

Matthew Theal: Oh I do because it wasn’t very much. You paid me 24,000 a year or 2000 a month. So it was a significant pay cut to what I-

Brent Pasqua: It was a side job while you were trying to find a real job.

Joshua Winterswyk: Was that gross or net?

Matthew Theal: That was gross. So it was a significant pay cut to what I had been making and what I thought I was going to be making. But it was the right career field for me and I was willing to make sacrifices and essentially bite the bullet for a few years while I went on my journey in the financial advice industry. And so we’re thankful for that and I do think my pay has grown every year.

Brent Pasqua: So I don’t even think we guaranteed you 24,000 for the year, I think it was more like, “Hey, let’s take this month by month and see what happens.”

Matthew Theal: Yeah. Well when you added it up it was 24 and I was so good though I just came in and I was already the all star of that team.

Joshua Winterswyk: So tell us a little bit more about that, that development through this last decade of starting at your 2000 a month salary and progressing to your role today.

Matthew Theal: Well, here’s the thing, and this is advice for pretty much anybody who wants to work hard and get successful, change careers but do more than it’s expected of you. And so when I didn’t have any tasks to work on, I would just researched the industry. And that’s kind of how Brent and I started going down the financial planning path together and how we did eventually make the decision to give up commissions and go fee only so that I was spending all my time on the internet, on Twitter, reading what other financial planners were writing on their blogs and just really doing that industry level research while Brent was out getting all the clients.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. It was a huge progression to where we are today was because of those foundations you put in place for all those years.

Matthew Theal: Absolutely. But that’s been my journey since then. It’s been a lot of different hats here.

Brent Pasqua: When you came back from New York, did you even have a car? I don’t even remember.

Matthew Theal: Oh, that’s funny story, man, I’m going to sound like such a loser. Unfortunately my grandmother had passed away in 2010 I believe, and they left their car at my parents’ house and my parents never sold it. So I drove that.

Brent Pasqua: Was that the Sonata?

Matthew Theal: Nah, that was a Toyota Avalon. And then once the Avalon was kind of hit the skids, my other grandparents gave me a Sonata.

Brent Pasqua: So that was the Sonata.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, the Sonata came in, so I drove that for awhile.

Brent Pasqua: It’s because you didn’t need a car in New York though, right? I mean.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. I sold my car to move to New York.

Brent Pasqua: Now I don’t feel so bad for paying him so low.

Matthew Theal: So I was blessed on that and it helped me stay in a good financial position because there were some free handouts there.

Brent Pasqua: Sure, sure. And through that, I mean, you had more education as well.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I did the CFP in 2016, I believe, great program, highly recommend this. It did not cost much money I mean, it cost a lot of time, but I think the total commitment was probably under $10,000, 15,000. I know that does sound like a big sticker shock to some people, but when you look at the cost of becoming a lawyer or a doctor, or even just getting into your master’s, I mean, it’s significantly cheaper.

Brent Pasqua: Or just going to private school.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. Or just private school. Yeah, totally. Okay, Brent, anything else that kind of happened to you in this last decade from a…

Brent Pasqua: I’m sure there was a lot, but we’ll maybe save some of those because we hit the key points.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, absolutely. Joshua what about yourself?

Joshua Winterswyk: No, I think that kind of tells my story and happy to look back in the last 10 years and see growth and us doing this podcast together now so I’m just excited for the next decade.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, and I do have a question for both of you that I actually just thought of so you’re very unprepared for this, but back in 2010 were either of you even thinking about building your own personal financial plan or were you just kind of going through the motions doing what you thought was right?

Brent Pasqua: No, I was always knowing that there was pieces I was putting in place towards my financial plan, not all of those pieces were in place at that time as they are today. But I was always thinking of things that I needed to do to put myself in a better position, especially as starting your own business was coming down.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, I think it was more, I didn’t know it was a financial plan, but I knew I was making a little bit of money. My grandma always told me, you better save your money and so I had that installed in me from I was a kid. So I knew I had to save money, I didn’t know that that was a part of a plan and I knew that I eventually wanted to buy a piece of property for me to live in so there was kind of a gold tied to that savings even from when I just graduated. So as little of a plan that was, it was somewhat effective because I reached the goal that I had set myself for when I graduated.

Matthew Theal: Both of you are really good long-term thinkers. Looking back 2010, 2009 I had no plan.

Brent Pasqua: How could you, you weren’t getting paid anything?

Matthew Theal: That’s a good point.

Brent Pasqua: I mean I wasn’t very much different, I was just making a little money and putting 15 bucks of paycheck in a savings.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. All I knew is I needed to save something but I was kind of still in that stage where if anything major happened, you go to your parents and you ask them for money.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. I mean in 2010 weren’t you still in the heart of staying in New York and you weren’t really even considering coming back at that point, right?

Matthew Theal: Yeah. I didn’t move back till the summer of 2011. So I was definitely in New York city. Any plans for 2020, Brent? Any short term goals on the financial planning side?

Brent Pasqua: I think there’s a lot of things obviously, that on the short term planning side, you always want to make sure I’ll continue to put in contributions into our 401k plan and try and put as much money or max out my contributions in there because of the tax savings that happens with that, always reevaluating and making sure I have enough life insurance in case something were to happen to me that my family is protected. There’s always a couple of changes that can happen in your life to amend your trust, so I think there’s some things that I need to do there. But those are some of the keys that I’m looking at and there are a few other things financially that I’m looking at doing, but we’ll kind of see how this year starts out off and go from there.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, it sounds like a great plan is to just kind of do some maintenance. And then Joshua what about you?

Joshua Winterswyk: Going through my marriage checklist, got married last year, so it was June of last year, but still getting through my marriage checklist of all of the things we have to incorporate and change and our next goal as a couple, and obviously this is individually and as a couple, but to purchase a new home, we’re looking to get a bigger place and so our goal for me and my wife is to just continue to save, eventually buy a new home within the next couple of years.

Brent Pasqua: That’s a huge goal.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I’m on that train as well.

Joshua Winterswyk: I was just about to ask you what your 2020 decade goals, short term goals?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, so over probably the next one to two years probably buy the home, finally bite the bullet there. Unlike Brent, I don’t actually have a living trust, so it’s probably time to get one of those created and I have no life insurance, so I’ll probably need to purchase a life policy coming up in the next probably year as well. And I’m getting old so it’s only going to get more expensive every year I wait.

Joshua Winterswyk: And that’s on my marriage checklists too. So there you go, price them together.

Matthew Theal: And then one thing on the marriage checklist, Brent, I think you probably already did this, but we actually never integrated our finances and so this year one of the first things we’re going to do probably by the summer is integrate our finances. I think it’s going to make things a lot easier for saving and for watching our spending as well.

Brent Pasqua: Interesting. That could be a whole podcast show right there. There’s so many different strategies that people use to manage finances between husband and wife, I mean there are multiple ways to do it. There’s not just one. And when you get to that point in your relationship where it’s like it’s too hard to manage it separately and some people come to that conclusion later than others, some people do it the day they get married, but certain people do things, so what works best for them, but it does make it interesting how you actually merge those together.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, we’re at the point where it’s probably a little too difficult to manage it separately. She has too many moving pieces and I have too many moving pieces, so it makes sense just to put it all together.

Brent Pasqua: Yep. I came to that conclusion with my wife a few years after we got married too.

Joshua Winterswyk: It would be a good show.

Matthew Theal: We’ll put that on the list. Any parting thoughts?

Joshua Winterswyk: No, but good luck in the new decade to all of our listeners.

Brent Pasqua: I’m just hoping to get my name on the podcast show so when people search the podcasts that my name can come up also instead of just Matthews. Joshua, are you trying to get your name on the show too.

Joshua Winterswyk: I actually would like that. Yeah, that wouldn’t be bad.

Brent Pasqua: Well, we have a producer, hosts, manager, he does a majority of this leg work, so he deserves it.

Joshua Winterswyk: I just wish everybody could see how big his smile is right now.

Matthew Theal: Well, I might’ve already put your names on the podcast but hopefully when this one releases on iTunes you might see your names, unless I did it wrong, and then we’ll have to contact Walter who is our true producer and get that taken care of.

Matthew Theal: But for all of those out there who are listening and thinking about their goals for 2020 and beyond, the best advice I can give you is whatever it is, just start it now. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Financial plan is like a gym membership, the longer you wait, the fatter you’re going to get, the more other shape you’re going to get. Whether it’s $10 or $10,000 just start putting it away for your goals.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. I think the key to creating goals is, first thing that you have to do is you have to clearly define what they are, you have to write them down and you have to look at them every single day, whether it’s writing them on your mirror in your bathroom, whether it’s looking at them in your phone, whether it’s printing it out, putting it on your desk, it has to be in front of you, it has to be clearly defined and go after those because when you see them every day, you’re going to start achieving them. But if you write them down and then you never look at them again, guess what, the end of the year is going to come and you’re going to look at your goals and say, “Well, which ones did I accomplish and which ones did I not?” So write them down.

Matthew Theal: That’s great advice.

Joshua Winterswyk: And I think just to piggyback on that, I 100% agree with you absolutely. And also make sure that you know the difference between the short-term and the long-term goals. All goals don’t have to be the big finance goal that’s five years away or 10 years away, make sure you have the short-term goals, that monthly goal, that quarterly goal because obviously you start with the smaller goals and you’re working your way up to the larger goals and I’ve just seen success with that with myself and I think that it’s obviously super important I 100% agree with you about writing them down and having that accountability of looking at them every day.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. And on a final note, being an optimist whether it’s changing your career, saving for retirement, be optimistic it will work out. Don’t be a pessimist, I cost myself a lot of money in my early years being very pessimistic about everything. So just be optimistic and you will accomplish your goals.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. Which is why I think you and I, we’ve made a good team, in that respect because I don’t really fear anything I’m just full, when I make a decision, I’m full forward ahead and I’ll make it work and you’re more calculated sometimes with some things and…

Matthew Theal: I’m a pessimist.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. I mean you’re calculated.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. I’ve had to really train myself to be more optimistic and I’m still very pessimistic.

Joshua Winterswyk: in just listening to even to my own story, about your guys’ story, there was all three big risks in there. I mean starting the business, career change, so risks can be good, right? I mean taking that risk and pay dividend and without no risks, there’s not going to be much reward.

Matthew Theal: Who’s a football coach, is it Arians who says no risk-it, no biscuit?

Joshua Winterswyk: Is that what he says? That’s really good.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I think so. I could be wrong. All right, well any parting thoughts?

Brent Pasqua: Excellent show. Glad we could share our stories and looking forward to the next topic.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, me too. Josh, anything else?

Joshua Winterswyk: No. Yeah, great show, glad to share this last decade and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Matthew Theal: All right. Thank you for joining us on the Retirement Plan Playbook. Please visit for the show notes and to learn a little bit more about us. Thank you and have a great day.

Brent Pasqua: Thank you.

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