Jenny Jones of My Retirement Exit: “Always look for a full-service financial advisor”

Always look for a full-service financial advisor. One who offers or who is knowledgeable in comprehensive planning to include, insurance, tax management, portfolio management, legacy experience (charitable to include living benefits). There are a lot of people that only sell life insurance that say they are financial planners. They are in essence life insurance producers […]

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Always look for a full-service financial advisor. One who offers or who is knowledgeable in comprehensive planning to include, insurance, tax management, portfolio management, legacy experience (charitable to include living benefits). There are a lot of people that only sell life insurance that say they are financial planners. They are in essence life insurance producers who sell life insurance for a commission. I am very fond of Life Insurance producers and they have probably one of the most important roles in comprehensive financial planning, but by no means are they, financial planners if that is the only license that they have.


As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenny Jones. Jenny Jones (male) is a California resident, who’s birth name really is Jenny Jones. A United States Army veteran of three foreign wars has received extensive training as a Licensed Investment Advisor and serves as Principal for The Jones Stewardship Group LLC. He has been married to his lovely wife for 24 years, who fortunately and unfortunately has the same first name and maiden name as him. He is a former at-large writer for Yahoo Finance and is the founder of the My Retirement Exit© brand. He is considered by most to be an expert at retirement plans and legacy building with real estate investments.

Jones has a dual Master’s Degree in Accounting and Financial Management with a concentration in Financial Analysis. He has been in the area of personal finance and holder of several licenses concerning investments for nearly two decades. He is an educator by nature; which is a gift he says he was born with because of his innate ability to break down complex financial instructions into bite-sized pieces. When not writing, podcasting, looking at investment properties, or conducting financial workshops for both adults and teens, he can be found teaching graduate school. His real passion is investing in people and projects where everyone wins.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was about 22 years ago when I had just been laid off after the dot-com bubble had burst. I wanted to get into finance to find out what was really going on with the markets. I was told at that time the easiest way to get into the financial markets was to start in life insurance. I took the exams and passed the state licensing to become a life and health producer agent. A year later I was offered an opportunity to manage my own financial branch, but there was a catch. The catch was I would be offered one opportunity to pass a securities exam where I only had a less than 18% chance of passing. Here is the best part, I did not know about that one opportunity until after I had put the down payment on my new home and resigned from my growing insurance practice. It was destined because I passed the 6-hour exam with that one opportunity and the rest is history.

Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

One of the areas I felt comfortable with when it came to working in the industry was doing my “retirement can still happen” workshops and seminars. The energy of the learning groups always allowed me to give my best sessions. As the popularity of the seminars grew so did the size of the attendance. I always liked to do them at local restaurants around town and this time it was no different, only we decided to do it at a steakhouse. The plan was to only serve water and tea along with a light house salad as an option for the hour-long presentation. The local restaurant would only need a 24-hour notice on the headcount to secure tables and seating. I asked my assistant to call over to the restaurant and confirm our headcount and the time we would show up. I arrived the next day to set up my check-in station and discovered that I was on the hook for an order of 25 steaks with salads. The take-away in this situation was that I needed to confirm my reservations moving forward. I also learned how to stay calm doing a presentation where you already knew going in you were behind. I think I did my best work as a result and that learning moment was one of the best on my journey.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

One of my biggest challenges after serving my country for nearly a decade was what to do with the computer skills I had learned? The military, who had the internet and email which was called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network or (ARPANET) before everyone else knew it as the World Wide Web (www). As a result of being exposed to computers in the military I had gained knowledge by attending courses, but my experience was inventory management and logistics. I said it was a challenge because I had experience in one, but loved to do the other. I loved number crunching, but I loved computers and software as well. Later having obtained a degree in computer science I was determined to put it to work along with my graduate degree in finance. The love of both has led to a project called retirementchat.com. I loved helping people retire, but I loved building software platforms and solutions, so I put the two together and created a platform that clients could connect with me to get answers to their retirement questions without all the extra confusion.

How do you think that will help people?

I think the retirementchat.com project will help people who are undecided on their retirement journey get sound unbiased answers. As with everything else that has happened during the pandemic we found that most retirees would like to ask questions about their retirement plans or see how things are explained, so I also created My Retirement TV to remove some technical barriers of explaining things over the phone or my podcast. They can now connect to any of their streaming devices to include Google, Roku, and Apple. I also thought this would help prevent me from accidentally buying 25 stakes again.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?

I think the tipping point in my career was when I woke up one day and admitted to myself that I had to evolve and change with the times or leave the business altogether. The internet and the self-servicing (Robo-advising) evolution of our industry have forced me to see the tipping point a lot sooner. The generational shift and access to information have caused the most change. I loved meeting with people one on one, but I wanted to reach more people with my education and had a desire to connect so that was the tipping point. The lesson is this industry is not for the faint-hearted and now requires more educated, skilled, and solutions-based advisors.

What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?

One piece of advice I would give to a colleague in the financial field is if you have made up your mind to be mediocre then you should leave this field. The average advisor no longer has a place in this field. That’s like the car salesman that thinks that they can wow someone that walks on their car lot. The new consumer is more educated and can smell a bad deal from a mile away. Another piece of advice I would give them would be to join a solid organization that will support them and their ideas. Some people are running financial firms that have no clue what Instagram is or what it does for that matter. While most independent firms are on social platforms and attracting new clients you do not want to join an organization that hands you a phone book and tells you to start dialing for dollars. The final piece of advice I would give to them would be to look at creating lasting relationships with clients and they would survive long in this business. Sure, they could create a transactional-only business, but they would only be able to eat for a day, however building relationships they would eat for a lifetime.

Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As an “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?

1. Always look for a full-service financial advisor. One who offers or who is knowledgeable in comprehensive planning to include, insurance, tax management, portfolio management, legacy experience (charitable to include living benefits). There are a lot of people that only sell life insurance that say they are financial planners. They are in essence life insurance producers who sell life insurance for a commission. I am very fond of Life Insurance producers and they have probably one of the most important roles in comprehensive financial planning, but by no means are they, financial planners if that is the only license that they have.

2. Look for advisors who are interested in building relationships instead of offering transactions. It is more important for your advisor to know your family members and their birthdays than what product they are going to sell on your next visit to their office. This builds trust, which is what is needed above all. I was so close to one of my clients I was asked to serve as a pallbearer at their funeral. Why? Because it’s about relationships instead of transactions in a world moving to socially distance themselves further apart.

3. Look for advisors who are creative in their thinking as most people have some sort of hybrid retirement plan to include having both defined benefit plans (annuity type plans) and defined contribution plans (newer 401k plans). An advisor needs to have the ability to have range in putting solutions together.

4. I would tell them to look for a financial advisor through word of mouth and by asking a peer or co-worker. They should always ask the referrer what is it about them that they like most. The qualifications can be important, but the experience can be just as equally important. In my 20+ years of advising I have seen very good advisors with fewer initials behind their name, where the longevity in the markets has given them an experience that initials can’t give them.

5. Lastly, I would tell them to never buy a product that doubles or pretends to be something else. For example, there are certain types of products that combine both life insurance and investments in one package. The problem with most of those products is the cost of insurance tends to increase every year and could erode the underlining investment returns. Can you use advance planning in this case, which may have some tax benefits as a combination? Yes, but the average person will not know how to fully take advantage of this type of product and should be avoided.

I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?

I think there is a misconception of hiring an advisor because you have a multimillion-dollar portfolio and you need help managing it is a little outdated. I think everyone needs to have some sort of professional advice when it comes to managing their money. Let me give you the best example today as I pen this article. You can be a hot-shot YouTuber today and make a lot of money because you become wildly famous overnight.

Let’s say you become “Internet Famous” and make 1 million dollars in your first year of online fame. That’s great because you can go back to your parents and say “see mom and dad I told you I did not need college”. “Sometimes it’s not how much you make, but how much you keep” is what I would say to my son, but I digress. Just as fast as you made 1 Million could be just as fast as you blow it. Along your climb to internet stardom you never learned about diversification, you never learned that what goes up must come down concerning the markets. You never learned that putting all of your money in the latest bitcoin or GameStop hot tip you learned from a chat thread could sink your ship faster than the Titanic after hitting an iceberg. You never learned that building your business on one primary social platform could all go up in smoke over one acquisition or merger.

Everyone benefits from sound financial advice to avoid get rich quick schemes. I remember talking about this on Episode 14 of my Getting To Your Retirement Exit podcast “Boy Have I Got A Deal For You” where I talk about how to break down or avoid investment offers pitched your way that could lead to perils and folly of your hard-earned savings using 3 simple rules.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It would be unfair to even think one person helped me when I know it has been a team to keep me on track. I will share a name and a sentence about each one of them. They have been my rock and most have sincerely listened to me cry and plead with them about the ups and downs of this profession. Teddy Arnold, who is the most loyal and consistent person I know. He exudes excellence and helps me keep my compass headed in the right direction. Christie Tinsely, who is the epitome of sage advice. I love her for that because “if it does not make sense don’t do it Jones” she says. Michelle B, who is an old college professor colleague of mines who just keeps it 100 with me no matter the issue. Edwin T, who has been my biggest cheerleader in this profession, and last but certainly not least is Jenny Jones-Jones, my wife of 24 years. She has seen me grow from a cocoon to a full-blown butterfly in this field. She has helped me drive down dark alleys and one-lane highways in this profession. She has been the “Bonnie to my Clyde” in this venture even when the market crashed, she was there to help me pick up the phone and return calls from angry clients. She was there when I came home and cried after I shared with her that a potential client said they refused to work with me because I was black. She has seen it all and I owe her my life as she saved it returning calls and nursing me back to health after my bout with cancer several years ago.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I never thought that I would have an opportunity to share my mission to inspire a movement on a platform such as this. I am a big component of teaching, sharing, and growing. I created a brand entitled “Win When” that helps people win when it seems like they are losing (™). It is a network and platform that helps educate young aspiring entrepreneurs on their journey to getting exposure while growing their new brand or venture. The “Information Superhighway” is full of pitfalls and traps orchestrated to separate them from their hard-earned money. My network helps everyone help everyone. The network and movement are one where we provide help no matter your race, creed, or color. It is a way to give back to the young would-be small business owners wishing to fast-track success using the non-traditional route of attending a 4-year institution. On their journey, I inspire them and educate them on how to annuitize their business by looking at their financials, marketing, and their business model to ensure business sustainability.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow me on Twitter @retirementexit and on Instagram @myretirementexit they can also listen to me on my podcast “Getting To Your Retirement Exit” on all podcasting platforms.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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