When Zac Larson launched his career in the financial services industry nearly two decades ago, he wanted to take a different route than most. One that was purpose-driven rather than fear-driven. One that focused on the joy of living generously and serving others, not just selling products. The opportunity to do just that presented itself to Zac in 2001 when he joined Thrivent.
And today, as a founding partner of IntentGen Financial Partners, he is able to live out these values – empowering people to make intentional financial decisions so they can live with greater purpose. Zac and his wife, Kristin, have been married since 2003 and have four boys. In his free time, he likes to coach his sons’ basketball teams and enjoys golf, scuba diving, skiing and bike riding. He also serves in many roles at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Retirement income planning
- Investment management
- Wealth transfer
- Tax efficiency strategies
- Generosity- Creative Charitable Planning
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:03] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studio in Chicago, Illinois. It’s time for Chicago Business Radio. Brought to you by firm Space, your private sanctuary for productivity and growth. To learn more, go to firm spacecom. Now, here’s your host.
Max Kantor: [00:00:21] Hey, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of Chicago Business Radio. I’m your host, Max Kanter. And before we get started, as always, today’s show is sponsored by Firm Space, thanks to Firm Space because without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. And we got a really good one for you today. On today’s show, we have a founding partner and wealth advisor at IntentGen Financial Partners. So please welcome to the show, Zach Larson. Welcome to the show, Zach.
Zac Larson: [00:00:47] Thank you. It’s great to be here with you.
Max Kantor: [00:00:49] I’m excited to talk to you about everything you’re doing. So let’s jump right in. Tell me a little bit about intention.
Zac Larson: [00:00:54] Well, first of all, there’s a lot of financial management, financial planning companies that are out there. And in some ways we’re very similar to those. We help people manage their money, the efficient with taxes, protect their their plan and and take care of people they care about. But there’s some really unique that I think we’re doing in that message is resonating with people and that’s helping them focus on intentionality. Meaning what do they want their money to do for them? What do they want their their life, their impact, their experiences to be? And it is such a privilege. It’s so much fun to just dig into that with people and help them figure out what they can accomplish.
Max Kantor: [00:01:29] So what exactly is your role within intention?
Zac Larson: [00:01:33] My role is two parts. I for 20 years have helped people one on one think about the purpose of their money. So we talk about asset allocation and all sorts of investments and tax tax, things that nobody really loves to talk about, but we all need to. And then we focus on how they want to use their money, what they want it to do for them. So that’s probably about half my time with intention or maybe two thirds of it. Even still, the other part is in leadership and development. We have been blessed with growth over the last 15 years especially and have a phenomenal team of of colleagues that I get to work with. And so we’re we’re talking about their career path, their advancement, their fulfillment, and also looking at opportunities to grow our company in terms of hiring more great people or acquiring other advisors.
Max Kantor: [00:02:25] And how did you get into this line of work and then how did intention come to be?
Zac Larson: [00:02:31] Well, for some reason I’ve always either been blessed or cursed, maybe with enjoying and understanding numbers. And so it was just something I’ve known that I wanted to do for a long time. I did internships in college. I went to a little school in Illinois called Augustana College and started into this career right. Right out of school. And intention came about because three, four years in, I had worked with other colleagues. I became good friends with a mentor of mine, someone who became a friend and a colleague. His name is Corey Schmidt. And we realized that we had some very complementary skills and had more fun and could do more when we worked together. So we we began in 2005 working together and and grew a team from there. And intention came about specifically six years ago as we went into a more independent space within the financial planning world. And independence just gives us autonomy to run a business the way that we need and bring in the products and solutions and and expertise that our clients need.
Max Kantor: [00:03:38] Now, you touched on this a little bit ago, but, you know, for a lot of people, money is an awkward thing. It’s hard to talk about. It’s hard to discuss, but it’s so important. We all need it. We all use it. So how do you help people use and and grow and give their money with intention?
Zac Larson: [00:03:55] Most people, when we meet them, have done a lot of things kind of accidentally. They’ve learned perhaps from parents, they’ve learned the hard way and they’re just kind of going through life. And most most people do not want to do a budget and we don’t spend a lot of time on that either. We talk about aligning your money with your priorities right off the bat. So let’s take an example. If you’re in your working years and you’re like most people, you get your paycheck, you do life, you pay your bills, and then at the end of the month, you probably have a little bit of guilt around, Oh, I wish I would have given some more or I wish I would have saved some more. And we try to just help people flip that script and say, if there’s places you care about that you want to give to, whether it’s a local charity, a church, family members do that first be be purposeful with it, be intentional, and then let’s put money into savings. We call them save to spend accounts and save to save. And just the the specific automated, systematic process of doing those things first and then spending once left starts to change the game for people.
Max Kantor: [00:05:03] So you’re helping people with money in different areas of their life. I know you just mentioned like philanthropic ways. Also, I know retirement investment. So what would someone need help with for them to come to you?
Zac Larson: [00:05:19] Yeah, we we have built a company that tries to meet people where they are on their financial journey. And so there aren’t minimums. And we have a team and a partnership to help wherever a person is. But our niche really is in the retirement transition phase. So we look at plus or minus five years of retirement. You’re trying to figure out how you can do it or you’re in it and you’re saying, What else can I be doing? And in that phase, there’s a key financial and emotional transition that happens. People move from accumulation to utilization or accumulation to distribution. So they’ve been saving they’ve hopefully been seeing their net worth grow over time and now they’re seeing how do I use it? That’s where we step in and I think have some great unique perspectives on how to give them confidence, to spend it, to enjoy it, but also make sure that they don’t run out of it and that they can take care of the people and places that they want.
Max Kantor: [00:06:17] You’ve talked about, you know, giving back. Why do you think it’s important to give back? And can you describe how how you do this year to year?
Zac Larson: [00:06:27] Yeah, there’s both, I think, a philosophical and a practical edge to that. So for Theosophically, I believe that’s just what we’re called as people to do is to take care of others. I think if you come from a faith perspective, that’s that’s part of most faiths. If you come from just being part of a community, there is a desire to take care of others. But I think also from a practical sense, people need that in their plan. And I use this phrase a lot. I’ve seen it happen with clients. Imagine you hit this retire of yours, whether it’s a boat, whether it’s a new home, and then you go to enjoy it for the first time and you look around and you’re like, Dang, I just got this boat of my dreams, this house of my dreams, this trip of my dreams, and somebody else is already doing it better. And if we measure ourselves against others and against the world, there’s there’s just never enough. And then if you look the other direction, there are people who who have it way worse who who are dealing with tough stuff that need some support. And I think generosity helps to balance that scale of saying no against the world. There’s never enough. But maybe I’m in a spot where I do have enough and I can support some other people. And it it provides such great balance and perspectives in people’s lives.
Max Kantor: [00:07:48] Now, Zach, you mentioned that you are writing a book. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Zac Larson: [00:07:53] Yeah, the book has been on my mind for a lot of years and it really is about how to empower people to spend and give and live with intentionality and retirement. And yet it’s not so much a how to book. It’s trying to be a vessel, be a voice for people’s stories who have done this well, who have experienced the freedom that says, you know what, I have saved, I’ve prepared for this, and there’s more that I can do. So we talk about empowering people to live intentionally or to live with greater purpose. That can mean a lot of things. It could mean you’re ready to retire sooner, to give more than you had been, to start a business to help your kids or grandkids with college, to take family on a trip, to have experiences with friends, all sorts of things. And a lot of times people don’t have the process to do that well and they don’t have a plan that gives them confidence. And that’s what what we get to be part of all the time. So this book will will be out later this year. And the goal is to be a give give a chance for people’s voice to be heard, for their stories, to give other people confidence around their retirement.
Max Kantor: [00:09:07] Now, is there a certain age or certain financial level where people should begin thinking about their retirement plans?
Zac Larson: [00:09:16] Yeah. With within that five year mark I mentioned, I think people really need to go from a theoretical view on retirement or a hypothetical and actually start thinking practically about where will this happen. So if you’re a long ways from that, there’s things we can help you do to get ready so that it’s an easier transition. But if you’re in that zone, then I’ll just share a concrete example from a meeting this morning. A person had a a couple had accumulated a lot of cash in their last few years before retirement, and they said, we’ll just spend down our cash first. And what they didn’t realize is that they would be in such a low tax bracket, they wouldn’t even get to use their deductions if they just spent cash. So we helped them look at a balance of where to take money from from different types of accounts, IRAs, 401. Ks insurance, annuities, cash and say you’ve got all these tools. Let’s let’s find the right mix to get you the money that you need so that you can maximize what your opportunities are with it totally.
Max Kantor: [00:10:18] Going into retirement can be both thrilling and exciting, but also it can be scary and with intention. It seems like you guys are there to help make the process as easy and seamless a transition as possible.
Zac Larson: [00:10:32] Well, that’s that’s certainly the goal. I had a great learning experience last summer. We had prepared as a company for a lifelong dream I had, which was to take an extended sabbatical. I’ve got four teenage boys and my wife and I wanted to have some time with them. So we learned a lot how to to run our company well and take care of clients. But I learned a lot personally, and I found out in my free time I happen to spend money. I have hobbies that are expensive. And it was a great learning experience for people thinking about retirement. Because if you have hobbies that require money, some of those rules of thumb won’t work for you. You can’t live on 80% of what you’re used to because you might actually spend more when you have more free time. Conversely, some people have hobbies that don’t take any money and they could actually live on a lot less. So we want to personalize a plan for people. There’s three things that go into that we talk a lot about impact. Who do you want to have impact on experiences and then purpose? What is it that you’re going to be doing and how does your financial plan support your IEP, your impact, experience and purpose?
Max Kantor: [00:11:42] Now, Zach, for my last question for you, it’s a question I like to ask every guest that comes on Chicago Business Radio for you. What is the most rewarding part about what you get to do?
Zac Larson: [00:11:54] It’s seeing people realize. That their possibilities can actually be probabilities. They can do these things. They’ve dreamed of it. And we put those dreams into action. And it sounds a little, you know, like a Make a Wish foundation or something. It’s not. This is people’s lifelong savings. It’s their hard work. But we’re giving them a process or a plan that equips them to go take action on things that they’ve maybe always wanted to do. And I read a great quote last summer. It said, The quickest way for a dream to die is to wait. And we help people get started. We help them stop waiting and make those plans happen. And it’s it’s incredibly rewarding.
Max Kantor: [00:12:39] I love that quote. That’s that’s a good one. If people want to learn more about intention or they want to work with you guys in some capacity, how can they learn more? Do you have a website? Social media, Of course.
Zac Larson: [00:12:51] Check us out on Facebook. Check us out on our website. The website is intention.com into entgegen.com. They can look me up on LinkedIn and send a request and we’ll connect that way. So would appreciate people who want to learn more.
Max Kantor: [00:13:09] Totally. Well Zach, thank you so much for being on Chicago Business Radio today. You’re doing great work and we appreciate you being on the show.
Zac Larson: [00:13:17] Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks.
Max Kantor: [00:13:19] And thank you to listening for another episode of Chicago Business Radio. I’m your host, Max Kanter, and we’ll see you next time.
Intro: [00:13:27] This episode of Chicago Business Radio has been brought to you by firm space, your private sanctuary for productivity and growth. To learn more, go to firm Space.com.