Get a realistic picture of your spending. In planning for their spending needs and wants, retirees usually have done a pretty good job accounting for their regular household bills like utilities, groceries, and gas for the car. There are other costs, however, that can be easily overlooked because they may not show up each month. You might take an extra vacation or have more visits to the kids and grandkids (especially in the early “go go” years of retirement). Owning a home, even without a mortgage, still requires ongoing maintenance and it’s possible you may still have a remodeling project or two while retired. And if you expect to drive well into your into retirement years, you may need to replace a car a few more times. These are just a few examples of additional spending that your retirement income or savings must cover.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Retirees Say They Wish They Were Told Before They Began Retirement,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Ingram, CFP® at Center for Financial Planning (The Center) in Southfield, MI.Bob joined The Center team in 2017 and has more than 15 years of Financial Planning experience. In addition to meeting with clients, he is a member of The Center’s Financial Planning Department, a frequent contributor to The Center’s “Money Centered” blog and a member of the Financial Planning Association of Michigan. You may have seen Bob on Detroit’s WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Action News as an interview guest or as a guest speaker on personal finance and funding-related topics.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/7e3d99c4e361f80c85c24dd058e1d87d
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I always had a strong interest in business and investing, even going back to my early high school days in the Boston area. After studying economics in college, I began my work in the corporate world for a global consulting firm. While I enjoyed project management and had the opportunity to work with some great people on our client engagements, the idea of funding and funding planning kept surfacing in my mind. I was spending more and more time outside the office, reading about financial markets and the industry news. After all, the late 90s and early 2000s were exciting times with the boom of the internet and the emergence of new technologies, reshaping how companies would operate.
During this time, I had the opportunity to meet with my aunt and uncle’s financial planner. I learned about his business and saw the enthusiasm he had for working with his clients and helping them reach their most important goals. I realized that I really wanted to help individuals and families, not just corporate teams, and apply my passion for finance. In 2003 I completed my industry licensing requirements and affiliated with a national financial planning and funding firm. As my business grew, I joined with an independent franchise office of the firm. In 2017 I knew I was looking to change the direction of my business and had the opportunity to connect with the team at Center for Financial Planning. I feel so fortunate to be working with another great group of professional and outstanding people at The Center, as I continue the journey in making a difference in people’s lives every day.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Within my first two years in practice, I had the experience financial planners eventually must face in their careers. I began working with a client couple that had just recently retired. About six months later, the husband unexpectedly passed away. Needless to say, it was emotionally devastating for the surviving spouse. Her whole world and the retired life they had planned was upended. She would have to go through the grieving and healing process, and now she would have to take on all of the financial responsibilities of her household.
I made it a priority to help her through this tough time. This gave me a very clear picture, early in my career, of the positive differences we can make in our clients’ lives.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I had a previous client who did not like a common funding product just because their father had told them early on in life it was not a good funding. I learned how important it is to get an understanding of a client’s experiences with money and attitudes about money early in the client relationship. These emotional and psychological factors all influence how people make financial decisions. Having that deeper understanding of a client’s perspective allows for more impactful conversations and helps provide advice much more effectively.
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?
I have been fortunate to have many people who’ve helped me in my career. First, my family and friends have been there, encouraging me and being my strongest advocates, as I have grown within the profession. They have also been there in support during challenging times. Professionally, I’ve had colleagues and leaders that I admire who have shared knowledge and advice on all different aspects of this business.
Financial planning encompasses so many parts of our clients’ lives, and it involves more than just the numbers. One of the most significant things I’ve learned to effectively advise clients is about balancing all of the technical and non-technical elements.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
First, have a passion for what you do. Thinking you will always have the perfect work-life balance is not realistic. Especially early in your career, you will probably have to wear many different hats — chief marketer, financial educator, client relationship manager, funding allocator, business processing — the list goes on and on. Don’t lose sight of the big picture and the purpose for doing what you’re doing. This will give you the energy and the “light at the end of the tunnel” to keep you going.
As you continue to grow, focus on the activities that provide the most value to your clients and your business and begin delegating more often. This can mean engaging your current team, or hiring new team members, to take on more responsibilities for key tasks. Employing technology tools widely available to all of us today also helps create more efficiencies and leverages your time. Many of us can find it difficult at times to give up control. However, delegating effectively can enable both business growth and a more balanced quality of life.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I think a fantastic work culture is built on an environment of mutual respect and a team all working towards a common vision. This can encompass many things but there are a few key elements: there needs to be a respect for everyone’s time. This can be as simple as keeping meetings punctual, or it can be displaying the courtesy of asking a colleague first if they can spare a minute when he or she may be focused on an important task.
Create a sense of ownership for everyone in the firm. Each person plays a role in the success of the business. Openly recognize and acknowledge contributions and encourage those to assume responsibilities. Having a professional development plan provides a path for team members to continually improve their skills and allows them to grow along with the firm.
Empower your team to make a difference. The Walt Disney Company has a reputation for delivering excellent service and making guests feel special. A big part of how Disney delivers this “magic” is that it empowers its employees (a.k.a. cast members) at all levels to create special moments. Whether It’s a Disneyworld gift shop attendant surprising a child with card signed by a favorite character or another cast member handing a family passes to the reserved line on a popular ride, these touches take a positive experience and elevate it. You can encourage this mindset across your own organization and I bet you would be amazed at the unique and creative ways people will enhance the experience for your customers.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact nearly every aspect of one’s life. Obviously everyone’s experience is different. But in your experience, what are the 5 most common things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
Working with clients that have reached one the most significant milestones in their lives, their retirement, you get to hear a number of things many retirees wish they had known. Here are five common examples:
1) Have a clear vision of what you are retiring to.
2) Be prepared to spend more in retirement than you think.
3) Have a well-defined plan for how you will create your “paycheck” in retirement.
4) Consider how changes in health can impact your plan.
5) Maintain your social connections.
Let’s zoom in on this a bit. If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important financial issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
- Get a realistic picture of your spending. In planning for their spending needs and wants, retirees usually have done a pretty good job accounting for their regular household bills like utilities, groceries, and gas for the car. There are other costs, however, that can be easily overlooked because they may not show up each month. You might take an extra vacation or have more visits to the kids and grandkids (especially in the early “go go” years of retirement). Owning a home, even without a mortgage, still requires ongoing maintenance and it’s possible you may still have a remodeling project or two while retired. And if you expect to drive well into your into retirement years, you may need to replace a car a few more times. These are just a few examples of additional spending that your retirement income or savings must cover.
- Have a plan for how you will create your income in retirement. Saving enough for retirement is important, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle. Being able to draw income from different sources of retirement savings can help you be as efficient as possible with your resources, particularly in managing taxes. Just as you would want a diversified funding portfolio to help manage the risk of market losses, having funding held in different types of retirement plans and accounts that are taxed differently can give you tax diversification. Regular taxable funding accounts, employer retirement plans like a 401(k) or 403(b), and Roth IRA accounts, for example, all have different tax treatment on the contributions made to them and the growth and earnings within them. Accumulating savings in a combination of accounts can help provide you the future flexibility to decide where to pull income, depending on your needs and the prevailing tax rates.
- Understand how changes in health could affect your plan. Medical care and the associated costs is one of the biggest risks to retirees being able to maintain their standard of living for their lifetime. A Fidelity funding cost estimate calculates that a 65 year-old couple in 2020 may spend 295,000 dollars on health care in retirement based on the premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance costs of Medicare Part A and Part B and Medicare Part D. Incidentally, this estimate does not include any Covid-19 related costs that many people are facing. This is another significant expense you need to consider when mapping out your retirement income plan. Additionally, it is important to consider how other issues like a need for long term care (not included in the 295,000 dollars cost) could affect a couples’ retirement income and assets.
If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important health issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
Start thinking about your general health and activity as early as you can. We know that, as we age, our bodies can become more fragile and the risk of chronic health problems increases. Managing your diet and staying physically and mentally active can help defend against conditions ranging from hypertension and diabetes to heart disease, stroke and even some forms of cancer. Getting in better health before retirement could improve your quality of life in retirement, and help lower the potential costs of medical treatment and care management.
Keep up with regular screenings. While there is no silver bullet to completely prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer, there are several forms of cancer that are more detectable in the early stages. Don’t neglect screenings for things like colon cancer and lung cancer where it’s appropriate, especially if these run in your family.
Stay connected with your social network. During the average workweek, many people get most of their social interaction from the workplace. Retirees lose that daily social contact and it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Doing more socializing and staying connected with friends prior to retiring can help keep that social contact after you make that transition. Getting involved in the community or with volunteer groups are other ways of not only expanding your social connection and staying active, but also finding a new sense of purpose.
If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important things to consider before choosing a place to live after they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
From a financial perspective, the local cost of living is certainly an important consideration when choosing where to live in retirement. However, there are other important factors as well.
- Consider places that fit your lifestyle and activities you want to do in retirement. Think about what an your average day or week might look like — How will you spend your time? Where will you going? How do you want to get around town? Living in a place you have only visited during a vacation could seem quite different when you are there for extended periods.
- Consider your proximity to other family and friends. Understand what this could mean for your day-to-day life in your new community. Will the people you spend time with be nearby or will you need extensive travel? Are you the kind of person that will know everyone in town within the first month or are you more comfortable with your close circle of friends?
- Availability of health care and other services. If you’re settling down somewhere for your retirement years, consider both the quality of health care services in that area and how accessible the services will be to you. Some communities may have a high percentage of medical professionals, specialists, inpatient and outpatient facilities, and home health services, while in other areas you may have very limited or no options within one or more hours.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Matters of money can be some of the leading causes of stress in people’s lives, regardless of income or level of wealth. For many individuals and families, there are typically two or three financial issues causing them concern or keeping them up at night. If each person could relieve even one of those issues through financial education and/or by talking with a professional, think of the emotional and mental energy each person could save and redirect positively into his or her relationships, work, family, you name it.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
There are many books that have given me some great insights, but two titles come to mind as I reflect on my time in this industry so far. The first one is ‘How to Become a Successful Financial Consultant’ by Jim Ainsworth. This was published back in the 1990s and was one of the first books I read when I was still working in corporate consulting and thinking about the financial services business. It was part of my inspiration for making the transition into the financial planning profession.
The other book is ‘The New Financial Advisor’ by Nick Murray, who is known in our industry as the advisor’s advisor. The theme he presents is through the analogy of Noah’s Ark. Nick’s contention is that as the baby boomer generation enters retirement, they face their own “flood” in having to navigate all the complexities of financial products, tax law changes, escalating health care costs, and their own investor behaviors. The true professional financial advisor needs to serve as his or her client’s “Noah,” keeping clients out of the water and on the “Ark.” Reading this in the early years of my career further crystallized in my mind the role we play in our clients’ lives and the importance of guiding them through a holistic financial planning process.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
For years I have enjoyed this quote from comedian and actor Milton Berle, not only for its bit of humor but also for its message. You can’t just sit and wait for things to happen. You have to take action and create opportunities. This is applicable in business as well as in the other parts of our lives.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
LinkedIn: Robert L. Ingram, CFP®
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® is a Registered funding Advisor. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. funding advisory services are offered through Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.
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FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.