Chris Miles on U.S. Investing, Problems with Getting Financial Advice and Financial Freedom

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On this episode, I interview Chris Miles. Chris is a “Cash Flow Expert” who calls himself the “anti-financial planner”. He’s helped thousands of his clients with creating cash flow and lasting wealth, and has been featured on major publications such as US News, CNN Money, and other well-known podcasts such as John Lee Dumas’ Entrepreneurs on Fire.

After working as a traditional financial advisor for several years, he quickly realised that the financial advising industry wasn’t showing anyone how to quickly and safely become financially free. After retiring at 28, he has spent his time teaching strategies he’s used for his own wealth creation for small business owners and individuals. Chris also hosts his own podcast called Money Ripples, where he shares advice and ideas around how to reach your financial goals.

Show Notes:​00:00 – Introduction to the Show

01:34 – Introduction to Chris

02:42 – How Chris became a “Reformed” Financial Advisor

07:52 – The Problems with Getting Financial Advice

12:31 – Creating More Income Streams through Alternative Investing

19:46 – How to Approach Investing in the U.S. Market

22:43 – What to look for in a Financial Advisor

24:58 – Things to Consider about Insurances

26:36 – Wrapping Up

Salena: Thanks so much, Chris for being with us today.

Chris: You’re welcome. It’s an honour.

Salena: Just for the benefit of everyone that’s listening, I thought it might be useful for you to do a quick intro on yourself. The understanding that I have is that you are really an expert around helping people better manage their cash and their hard-earned capital. You call yourself the anti-financial advisor, and you’re teaching entrepreneurs and professionals how to free up and create cash flow so that they can really step out of the workforce if they choose to. You’re an author, you’re a podcast host, you’ve got the Chris Miles Money Show, and I think very impressively you’ve been on U.S. news, CNN, EO Fire, and you’ve got a stellar reputation within your industry.

So, I’ll kind of hand over to you. Is there anything that you’d add to the kind of giving people a bit of a context about what makes you the anti-financial advisor?

[Speaker 1]: Yeah. You know, I kind of broke away from the traditional financial advice that you’ve been getting paid by them. I told your whole, you know, well, maybe not your whole life, but a lot of your life, at least adult life to save everything, spend nothing, sacrifice, suffer, and just basically let your life suck.

Your entire life is just about, you know, like just being as cheap as possible. And hopefully, with all those little table scraps you have leftover, you have something to eat later on. Right? Yeah. And I used to teach that. I taught that for four years, and as a traditional financial advisor, I sold mutual funds, life insurance, things like that. And then after about three or four years, I started to really question what I was teaching. Was it really working? No. And as I started really looking at the numbers and looking at real life, like not just speculation, but like what’s really happening. That’s when I realized – wait a minute, this isn’t working.

Like people aren’t becoming financially free. And I remember I had a friend that actually brought that up to me. I actually trained him to be a financial advisor, and then he quit to go do things like real estate investing more alternative investments. And I remember about six months later, we’re talking on the phone, and he said, Chris, hey, guess what? I’m super excited. My dad and I partnered up, and my dad can actually retire if he wanted to this year. And I remember meeting with his dad as a financial advisor thinking there’s no way he could have ever, he could retire in a year, that that’s bull.

And like how? Oh, through real estate investing. I’m like, yeah. Right. And so we had this debate about what’s better – stocks or real estate? And he finally stopped me. He said, Chris, let me ask you a question. What principles do you teach your clients? I’m like, what do you mean by principles? You mean like the rule of 72 – compound interest calculation? Nope. Not even Chris. Okay. Okay Chris, how about number two? How about how many of your clients are truly financially free? Where they don’t worry about money? I thought about it. Well, I got retired, retired physicians and people like that, but no, they still watch the news, and they wonder if they’re going to lose money in the market. So I said, none, none of them are financially free. He said, well, good job, Chris. How about you guys? Obviously, you guys are financial advisors. You should have it figured out over anybody. How many of you are financially free? Not from commissions for selling these things that haven’t worked, but actually financially free from doing the investments yourself.

And as I thought about it, well, none. Maybe one guy is that I know of. And I found out that guy got fired for that company, and he wasn’t either. So, it was a big realization. I said, all right, okay, you got me out of debt. You know, deflate my ego a little bit. You know you got me to admit it. So what’s the answer? He said I’m not going to tell you the answer. I said dang it, tell me the answer. And so he said, if you’re really serious, go get the book by Robert Kiyosaki, who is the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. He said, get the book, which talks about why mutual funds are horrible. Right? Yep. And, so I did that, and I remember reading it, and I thought, wow, okay, this is blowing my mind. And there were some other millionaires that did a local radio show, and I’ve listened to them, and they would teach the opposite of everything – they would say it’s about cash flow. It’s about principles and the creative principles of prosperity and abundance, not about just trying to save money in some dumb retirement accounts, which may never pan out.

And between what my experience already was, and the reality plus understanding that and seeing the difference, that’s where I realized in March of ’06, I had to quit.

I couldn’t keep the integrity and teach this anymore. So I said, I will never teach about money again. I’ll just teach ballroom dancing and mortgages, and that’s it.

Salena: Wow.

Chris: The cool thing is I started to get mentored by one of those guys. And about four months later, I was able to retire myself.

Salena: Oh, wow. That’s amazing.

Chris: Yeah, that was pretty cool. So that’s where I realized that it wasn’t about accumulating money. It was about creating cashflow and streams of income.

Salena: I gather from what you’re saying, you know where we’re based over here in Australia, but the principles of what you’re saying are probably universal. Would you share that view?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the strategies might differ, you know, we might use different vehicles to get there, but, the great thing about principles are that principles never change over time. Principles are always true.

You know, for example, if you want to make more money, right? Um, this is something I teach on my podcast all the time. If people want to make more money, you’ve got to ask yourself not how do I make more money, but to ask, how can I create more value for more people? How can I solve problems for them that they want to naturally exchange money for that? It doesn’t matter what kind of currency or bills you exchange. It could be Vietnamese Dong, you know, it could be something like that. It doesn’t matter. It could be bartering. I mean, if you’re always focused on creating value for people, you can always make money.

And that was the big change for me in 2006, is I stopped asking how to make more money. I started focusing less on the money and more on providing value and solutions for people. And then all of a sudden money became easy. It was formulaic. It was very simple.

Salena: Yeah. I mean, you’ve touched on this already, but can you go a bit deeper into the idea of what’s wrong with current financial advice? Like what’s the limitation? Why doesn’t it work well work because it’s everything you’re taught.

Chris: Well it doesn’t work because everything you’re taught there is actually from financial institutions, banks, companies that are essentially taking your money and they’re teaching you the same thing.

I mean, I remember asking an 18-year-old who never even had a bank account before and she got the answers right. Cause I asked her, I said, well, you know, banks obviously want your money. Well, how often do they want your money? She said, well, as often as possible. Okay, great. Well, how much of your money they want? All of it. How long do they want it for forever? How much do they want to give back to you when you ask for it? As little as possible. Right? And then of course, how much risk do the banks want to take, which is as little as possible. And they want you to take all the risks for them to be realized that they want your money as often as possible, as much of as possible for as long as possible and give as little backs possible. And then they essentially want you to take as much risk as possible. So they take as little risk as possible. You start to realize everything you’ve been taught is to do that, right? It’s always put money away and never think about it and let it compound and grow and never touch it and only live on the interest or live on less than the interest. You know? So for example, this is not even a very good wage today in America, but you know, 60,000 US dollars is barely middle-class in America. To earn that per year to, and I’ve done the calculations, I did all my website on, I did a blog about what it takes to retire, you know, based on the real stock market returns, not the ones they tell you, but the ones that are actually done what’s actually happened.

And when you factor in that and inflation and everything else, if someone wants to retire in 25 years with a $60,000 a year lifestyle, they’ve got to put away $10,000 a month.

Salena: Wow.

Chris: You know, I remember as a financial advisor, I remember when I would try to do these projections and I would actually try to put in inflation. For example, they always say inflation is 3%, which in America it’s not. It’s more like 5 to 7% minimum per year.

But they’ll tell you 3% and I’d run 3%. And when I run the numbers and show what somebody even in their twenties would look like at age 65, it was dismal. It was like, oh, well maybe I won’t do 3% and they’ll change it to 2%. Oh, that’s better. Now they look like they have a little bit more money and comes back to … there’s a guy that’s an economist, he’s also an actor, have you ever heard of the name, Ben Stein?

Salena: Yes

Chris: He’s a guy that was in Ferris Bueller’s day off. He said Bueller, Bueller. You know that guy, he actually is an economist. He’s Harvard trained, right. And I remember him saying one point, he says, figures don’t lie, but liars figure. People that want to just try to twist things, to make things work to their favour. They’ll see how they could twist the figures to make it look like that. And I’ll tell you, that’s what’s happening in the financial industry right now. The reason why people aren’t retiring the way they thought they would? It’s not their fault. In fact, many people are saving just as much, if not more than what they were recommended years, decades ago, but they’re realizing today, it wasn’t enough.

And they think, oh, maybe I didn’t save enough. And that’s what every financial advisor will say, well, you’re not saving enough. You just need to save more or just go a longer, you know, retire when you’re dead basically, right. Or just don’t live very long, you know, live on rice and beans and ramen noodles. And you know, you’ll eventually die quickly. And so you won’t run out of money, right? That’s another thing that they teach you.

And so I started to see that. That’s why I was like, oh, this doesn’t work. And the whole high-risk rates high returns, you know, that’s all false, that’s a lie. A 90% chance of losing does not mean you have a 90% chance of winning. 90% chance losing means you have a 10% chance of winning. Right?

So taking high risks does not mean you’re going to have higher returns. But they teach you that because they want you to take all the risks while they take none. If banks truly believe, that they wouldn’t say, we’ll actually take the risk with you. We’ll put our money in the market. If we lose money – oh well. They don’t do that. They say, hey, we’ll take 1% or 2% of your money out every single year, just because we have it. You see the risks and we get the money.

Salena: That’s quite a bleak view of financial planning. If that’s true, which, you know, it sounds pretty real. Like what alternative do people have? Like how do people step outside that paradigm?

Chris: Yeah. That’s where you have to focus on again, the real principles. Like what’s really at the base of creating money is that we’ve been told to hand money away to somebody else and just forget about it. And then that’s what they want you to do. They want you to forget about it. So then it’s finally too late. And then you realize, oh, I don’t have enough money.

And so the best thing you could do is find ways to generate cash flow. How do we generate more income or income streams? If you’re a business owner, great, you’ve got some really good potential because as a business owner, you’ve got the ability to create essentially something from nothing. Just from your mind, you can create things or from delivering things, and that’s been one of the best ways I’ve done it. And I’ve even done it with affiliate relationships. You know, that I’ve had situations where people have sent referrals all the time. I thought, wait a minute, they’re getting good business from me. Maybe I should ask them if there’s a way we can create an exchange, whether it’s exchange of business, exchange of money, whatever. And so I’ve done really well with that.

Also alternative investments, you know, I’ve mentioned, I got a lot of clients right now, one just today, realized, he thought, wow, with the things I’m doing, I can easily create an extra $80,000 this year. There’s passive income.

I had another client just the other day where it blew her mind. She said, wait a minute. I can create over a hundred thousand this year with money that they had sitting in, either equity in their homes or sitting in stock market stuff. That’s not doing anything right now, but the stock market’s bipolar. They’re trying to figure out what to do. And they’re like, wait a minute. I can take this money that I’m not making any cashflow on right now. And this can become income today. Is that possible? And yeah, it’s very possible. It’s very easy to create

Salena: Just for the benefit of people here in Australia. Like the term alternative investment isn’t commonplace. People don’t really use that language. Can you maybe just open up your definition of what alternative investing really means?

Chris: Yeah. Alternative investment, even in the U.S. is not common either. It’s cause most people were like, okay, what’s that mean? It really means just anything outside of what traditional financial advisors will sell you. And usually some analysts, advisors won’t sell you anything beyond the scope of, you know, mutual fund type of things, stock market based, you know, and those kind of things, maybe insurance-based products, right. It’s very, very limited. I mean, they might make it sound like it’s really big, but when you look at the grand scheme of things, they’re all paper assets, they’re all like stocks and bonds and contracts. And uh, and here we’re talking about things outside of that scope. So it could be anything with real estate investing of all sorts. It could be investing in commodities like gold, silver oil and gas, you know, during the U.S. oil and gas can give you a great tax break, you know? So there’s some additional benefits to making returns. You can get some tax benefits too. Things like I mentioned, business, this is entities, whether it be your own or investing in like a franchise or a business of someone else’s business or business model, you know, you can do things like that, those alternative investments. Anything outside of the scope of what financial advisors will usually sell you is considered alternative investments. And in my opinion, that’s usually the best investments depending if they’re done.

Salena: Yeah. And so for the average person, what’s the way they could start to consider or bring in alternative investments in a safe way. Cause obviously some of those things, you know, there’s a world out there that people understand called alternative investments and some of that stuff would be quite frightening. Some of it would in fact be genuinely risky. How does the average person distinguish between those opportunities that are lower risk and reasonably good return versus, you know, the stuff you should just stay right away?

Chris: Yeah. Well, there’s been a big craze last year, especially last year or two about Bitcoin, you know? And I’m not arguing that that the whole blockchain technology isn’t awesome. It’s kind of a cool invention, but when I see things with the currency market – currency market could be considered alternate investments. That could be pretty risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. And especially if you’re dealing with something that’s not been regulated yet, or it’s tempting for different countries to want to come in and regulate something of that. Even though people are talking about the amazing returns, right? Others say like, that’s pretty much a gamble, you know, like it’s, you know, from my experience in the last 16 years, doing everything from trading in the stock markets, myself and doing real estate, investing in business and all, all kinds of commodities, you name it, with all the experience I’ve had, I see something like that.

And I think that’s risky because there’s not really anything backing it up. Right? Like it’s funny because I remember at the beginning, somebody introduced me to Bitcoin when it first started, when it was dirt cheap, like cents on the dollar. And I remember people in introducing it to me, they said, this is great because you don’t have to worry about trusting the dollars. You know, you have to trust these countries, governments going bankrupt. And this is outside of that. And I thought, wait, you’re just creating the same system you already created before, you know, your own currency. It has nothing backing up. There’s no gold or silver backing it. It’s totally, you know, it’s just zeros and ones, you know? And so, I kinda like scoffed at it. And then all of a sudden it became popular. Now people are like, wait, is this a wise thing to do?

So when you’re looking for things, you know, first time watch out for things that are, that you don’t have control over for one. That’s one of the reason why I like real estate, because if I own the property, not investing in real estate funds, right? Like mutual funds to say, hey, we’re investing in real estate. You know, don’t do that. But more like I own a property, I control it. So, you know, if something happens, you know, I can actually do something with it. But also, here’s a big one for me, that’s different than even what some investors do. I look at it as like, if I don’t have it a passion for it or an interest in it, beyond just the money – I don’t do it.

Salena: Interesting.

Chris: You know, like for example, I’ve had some people introduce me to like ATM type investments, you know, the ATM machines and you can make money from that, from the fees and things like that. And you can make some good money, potentially. The truth is I just don’t care. I don’t care study up on it or learn anything about it. Cause it just doesn’t interest me. But you know, when it comes to like certain aspects of business, even like, I might be interested in that I might study up on some of those things and invest that direction. So, everybody has their own different formula. You have to figure out like, what something I really like if you want to narrow it in the options, just say, what would be interesting to me if I didn’t make a whole lot of money? What would be interesting start there. That’s a great place to start.

Salena: Just, like mindful that, you know, there’s some Australian investors who within the Australian market might not have access to the sort of opportunities that you’re talking about. If they were to kind of look across the ocean at the U S market. What would be the way for them to kind of dip their toe in and do it safely because obviously we’ve got a few things going against us. We’ve got the distance we’ve got, we’ve got the time difference, which makes it difficult to sometimes communicate with people there. And then we’ve got exposure to currency fluctuations. And then we’ve got this whole thing that from a regulatory point of view, your legal system and our legal system are completely different. So there’s a little bit of language-ing that needs to kind of be understood. So if you were going to be advising someone from Australia, wanting to kind of look at stepping into that, because the thing that I’m becoming a really huge advocate of in my country is this concept of being a global mindset investor.

The world is becoming a smaller place. Australia has a phenomenal standard of living and it’s a great country to live in, but the limitations in terms of it’s a much more efficient economy. So the opportunities are more restricted. And so I’m encouraging people to lift their heads and look abroad. What kind of comments would you make to Australians that are looking to kind of invest in the U S market?

Chirs Miles: I think a good idea is to start small. And you know, for example, I personally love real estate, investing, especially turnkey properties where you don’t have to be the one managing it. Like you have a property manager on the scenes. So even for me, I mean, I own properties that are like 2000 miles away, you know, but I’m not going to go visit them. I’m not going to go change toilet paper or do anything like that. So that might be a little bit big of a jump in the beginning, but maybe start small. I mean, there’s different types of funds that are out there, different funds that you can invest in. For example, I mean, this one is closed at least for the next few months. But like there’s one called American homeowners preservation, where you can invest as little as a hundred us dollars and get paid, maybe around like 10% a year, paid monthly. Nice things you can do that are easy, it can be lower risk, and I’m not saying that the risk free, there is no such thing as risk-free. But definitely, when I look at situations and I think, Hey, you know, especially with something like that, where that one’s actually banks on recession type of markets, they actually like that. So, if you ever want to check out that the website is, you can kind of look at more information there, but that’s, that’s like an easy one you can do.

Salena: I have to ask you this question, which is obviously there are limitations that you’ve pointed out within that financial planning world. What place to financial planners have, like how should people be using financial planners?
Chris: You know, the way I see the financial planning should be done. And this is kinda where it became like an anti financial advisor is that it’s one like financial advisors, their mindset has to get away from the whole commission driven type world. I still do certain activities where I can earn commissions from financial products, but I do more consulting work. So I am more charged to feed my clients. So whether they use anything I could make money off of or not, I’m fine with that because I’m there to be that game plan strategist. If someone’s going to use a financial advisor, you really gotta look for somebody who’s outside of the box. You cannot go for someone who, who actually speaks words. Like it takes high risks to create high returns. Like that should be an automatic fire, you know, like a fire answer, right? Like somebody does that, you fire them because why would you want them to say high risk. And most of the things that they say are higher risks really don’t have higher returns. Why would I do that?

You want to look for something different cause it’s against the grain. I would hope that finance advisors are starting to see beyond that at some point, and would kind of disconnect themselves, but I understand how hard it is because I was there too. It took me about three months to finally make the leap and leave cold turkey. Like just quit at the height of my practice. I left because I said, I can’t do it. And was because, you know, the values and your integrity, like when that starts to violate. I stopped going to all the trainings, which by the way, my business grew, when I stopped going to all the trainings that they gave financial advisors. I actually got more clients by not going to those trainings because they were just teaching me to regurgitate what they wanted – the banks and the financial institutions wanted. And so when I broke away from that, when my pocket book wasn’t tied to it anymore, it was amazing. I was able to open my eyes and look around and see a much bigger and much more actually hopeful world as a result of that.

Salena: Yeah. That’s a terrific answer. I mean, the only thing you haven’t touched on there is insurances. So most of us go to financial planners because we feel that the world of insurance, whether it’s income protection or life insurance or permanent disability, all that kind of stuff, it just seems overwhelming and confusing. What are your thoughts on that?

Chris: That’s definitely the one place you’re gonna go where you have, you know, a financial or insurance specialist. And I’ll tell you, at least people that get along with me, I tend to get along better with insurance agents than I do with people that think that the stock market’s the only way to go. Like I used to be. It’s definitely a necessity. Same thing still applies to insurance agents though. For example, I write life insurance myself here in the States, and people come to me cause they say, wait, you teach this way differently from a very different perspective than every other insurance guy I’ve talked to because I teach it more from a business owner, investor mindset. So mine’s not so much like – here’s how you buy the biggest, most expensive policy possible. I’m like, here’s how you cut down all the costs in this policy. So you have more money working for you and making some good money with it. And I teach in a very different way. And so, definitely if you’re interviewing people, I think the same thing is don’t look for the same old vanilla, because if that’s the case, it might not turn the brain on very much. And they’re just regurgitating things. Find somebody who is a little bit more of an independent thinker.

Salena: I really appreciate your insights and feedback today. If it’s possible, what I’d love to do is tee up another call with you sometime in the next few weeks, because what I’d love to do is kind of put together some case studies and go like, right. How could we work with this Jane Do type person. What would sort of, I think what would be great is to get some insights into the strategy piece, like the mindset piece, how are you thinking differently? Because I kind of feel like you’ve given us great content today, but I’d love for people who are watching this to get an insight into how you work with them, how you might work with them in the future.
Chris: That’s fun. I love the strategy piece too. It’s so much fun.

Salena: Fantastic. Well, look, thank you so much for your time today, Chris. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing you over in the U S sometime later in the year.

Chris: I look forward to it.

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