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“Communication is critical.”, With Beau Henderson & Joe Conroy

Number one is learning that retirement life will be busier than when working on a normal schedule. Many people tell me that they are more active in retirement than they were while working. My clients do not fall short of finding things to keep them busy, in fact they have less time because they are […]

Number one is learning that retirement life will be busier than when working on a normal schedule. Many people tell me that they are more active in retirement than they were while working. My clients do not fall short of finding things to keep them busy, in fact they have less time because they are available to help family members or commit time to activities they have been wanting to do.


Aspart of my series about the “5 Things Retirees Say They Wish They Were Told Before They Began Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Conroy is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional who is passionate about helping his clients pursue their financial goals.

Joe founded Harford Retirement Planners to provide objective advice and knowledge to his clients. By partnering with the nation’s largest* independent broker dealer, LPL Financial, Harford Retirement Planners has access to the resources of an organization with over 4,000 professionals.

It is his experience working with many individuals over the years from many backgrounds that inspired Joe to write his book, Decades & Decisions: Financial Planning At Any Age. He has also been featured in various publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Yahoo! Finance and the Baltimore Business Journal among others.

Joe, his wife, Jane, and their three children live in Bel Air, Maryland. Joe is active in the local community and volunteers his time with Found in Faith Ministries and The Success Project. On the rare occasion he finds time for himself, Joe enjoys cars, woodworking, cooking, and watching the Ravens.


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?

Ihave always been interested in people, investing, and money, so financial planning proved to be the perfect mix of all three. It allows me to serve others on a daily basis by helping them understand and invest their money to unlock whatever it is that they want out of life. Additionally, relationships are created that last decades so being able to start a project with a client and see it through retirement is what has drawn me to this career path. Once I became involved in financial planning I developed a burning desire to continue because my passion for the business and investments is so deep.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Every new client that I am introduced to has an interesting story. I find it fascinating to hear where all of my clients come from, where they want to go, and where they’re headed. Everybody’s story is just so unique. It may appear as though I do the same thing every day, but in fact the numerous personalities and the different professions of the people that I work with keep my job extremely interesting.

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?

Early in my career I made the mistake of trying to work with everyone, even those who would not be good clients. One prospect dictated how he wanted his money to be managed, hich I knew was a bit of a red flag. I met with him anyway because I was a beginner in my career and wanted any business I could get. He was a family friend, but this man opened the door greeted me in his boxers! No shirt, no pants, just boxers. I felt like a canteen boy from the SNL skit. Most people would turn around and run back to their car. While I was uncomfortable, I followed through with the meeting anyway. As a surprise to no one, his ideas for investing were odder than holding a business meeting in your underwear. This was a strange, but important, lesson for me. There will be people I will come across who just won’t be a good fit for my practice, and that’s ok.

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?

James Salamone has been my top mentor. He is extremely good with people, smart, compassionate and has such a high emotional intelligence. I have learned so much from him. Many people do not realize that having a high emotional intelligence is so important in this business. It is crucial to be able to connect with people and show empathy so they feel as though you have their best interests at heart. James is currently on the path to retirement meaning I have the pleasure to continue the work that he has built with his clients. He has been a fantastic resource to help me benefit people the best I can.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Being selective with clients you take on is probably the most important thing to avoid burnout as a Financial Advisor. My rule of thumb is when my phone rings and I look at the caller ID, am I excited to talk to this person or do I roll my eyes and go “ughh”? I can proudly say I excited whenever I get the chance to talk to my clients. We work as a team and collaborate to try to create the best plan for the best possible outcomes.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Communication is critical to run an effective organization. There needs to be a vision and it needs to be crystal clear. The direction of the business must be identified from the start. If everyone knows their part in achieving this higher purpose, and has the ability to accomplish their part in their own way, great things can happen for the whole organization.

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?

Number one is learning that retirement life will be busier than when working on a normal schedule. Many people tell me that they are more active in retirement than they were while working. My clients do not fall short of finding things to keep them busy, in fact they have less time because they are available to help family members or commit time to activities they have been wanting to do.

Second, I find retirement to be a financial shock to people. Most people have prepared for retirement or are decent savers, but it is a culture shock to go from saver to spender. It’s difficult to operate from a view point of living below your means and investing/saving your entire life to flipping a switch and spending. It’s what most of us work so hard for, but it comes with a shift in thinking.

Number three is to ensure your portfolio is a swiss army knife. Diversification is important meaning numerous assets should be included. With diversification your portfolio is ready for whatever is thrown in its direction.

Four, retirement is a checkpoint, not the finish line! In retirement it is crucial to continue having the mindset of a long-term investor because funds need to be sustained for 30 years or more.

Lastly, the first five years of retirement will likely be the most expensive. Since new retirees have this free time, they are going to turn to spending funds on activities they have wanted to partake in. That’s not good or bad, it just needs to be factored into proper planning.

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?

I have some loved ones that I am helping in their process of planning for retirement, my parents. If retirement does not work out for them they are going to end up in my basement. I have all the incentives in the world to ensure we are utilizing planning methods that will work for them. It is important to have a safety net of cash combined with conservative investments that will fill a portion of time and allow you to wait out any drops in the market.

Second, it is important to plan for those advanced years. It is not “fun money” to spend, but rather money to mitigate costs in the long-term. I’m talking about long term care planning. It is a lot cheaper to obtain coverage while in your 60’s age range rather than attempting to find coverage while in your 70’s.

Lastly, be prepared to lessen spending based on market conditions. If at some point in retirement there is a 30% drop in the market, do not blindly go on expensive vacations, but rather analyze what can be trimmed back. Flexibility in retirement is important to keep options open.

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?

Number one, retired clients need to move it or lose it and by that I mean remain active. Now being active doesn’t necessarily mean running triathlons, but rather watching grandkids and getting involved with volunteer work or a part time job. I’ve only ever had one person tell me that they would rather sit in their house than be active when they retire.

Second, plan for the worst and hope for the best. Conditions that result in needing long term care, like Alzheimer’s, is important to plan for financially. You have three options to choose from when considering this cost in retirement: You can self-insure, insure yourself through a company, or your adult children will take care of you. If these three resources are not available, then one must rely on the government to take care of them.

Lastly, consider living close to family while choosing where to retire. I had a client who dreamed of retiring in sunny Florida, however their children and grandchildren resided in the middle of the country. Being close to family in retirement allows you spend important time together, and provides more options in the case of medical events.

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. 🙂

Financial education and literacy at all grade levels is extremely important to me. It’s amazing how many kids learn about the Pythagorean theorem, but guess what? We don’t file Pythagorean theorems by April 15th, we file taxes. Nowadays many people are completely clueless when it comes to practical math and finance.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

(Suggestion — this might be a good time to plug your book and give readers the reason why you wrote it if you haven’t in the previous questions)

After working with clients for many years I became extremely passionate about financial literacy. I wrote a book for the everyday individual on financial planning. The book is grouped into chapters by age. I was sure to skip the fluff that fills up pages and include distilled information written in everyday language for the people that need a basic understanding of how financial planning works.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite quote is relevant to everything going on right now. Warren Buffet once said, “A rising tide lifts all boats, when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked”. In the investing world what this quote means is do not get too high with the highs and be prepared for the lows because eventually the tide goes out before it comes back in again. It is important to also enjoy the process. Whatever goals you are working on in your life, try to enjoy the process as much as the results.

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