Focus less on your wealth and more on your income. Wealth and growth of wealth is what we are accustomed to pre-retirement, but income and growing income is what we need to be ready for in retirement.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Taatjes. Ben is the president and CEO of Taatjes Financial Group and an Avantax Wealth Management Advisor. After graduating from Dordt College, Ben began his career working with a large CPA firm as a tax planner and financial advisor. Leveraging a strong background in tax and accounting, and having a passion to help others achieve financial freedom, he founded Taatjes Financial Group in 2006. Taatjes believes in the concept of “True Wealth”. In fact, it’s a foundational belief among the entire Taatjes Financial team. Wealth and money do not make us happy. Ben believes time, family, and experiences are the greatest commodities life. So, he and his team are dedicated to serving the community in a way that allows them to live their own dreams and lives to the fullest. “Whether someone is struggling with debt, a first-time saver, or a retiring CEO, I hope to inspire our clients to build ‘True Wealth’. We have the tools and the desire to help people of this region achieve their goals which go far beyond money”, Taatjes says. Ben released his first book, “Repurposed: The Untold Story of Retirement in America” in 2017. This book represents the heart of Taatjes Financial Group — to be much more than just retirement planners; but rather coaches to help bridge the gap between our client’s working years and a healthy, fulfilling and impactful retirement. Taatjes is a member and past treasurer for Unity Christian Reformed Church in Prinsburg and past board member and treasurer for Central Minnesota Christian School. He holds a Series 7 (General Securities Representative) and 66 (NASAA-Uniform Combined State Law Exam) as well as insurance designations. Taatjes is also the only endorsed local provider (ELP) for long-term care insurance by Dave Ramsey in the Willmar area. Ben resides in Prinsburg with his wife, Megan and their two daughters, Lauren and Addilyn.
Thank you so much for joining us, Ben! Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Iwould have to say it would be my interactions with a new client named Jim about 6 years ago. Jim was looking for pre-retirement advice, getting ready to retire in the next 3–5 years when he first came to see me. I developed a plan and found that he would have no problem retiring right away, not waiting those extra years. He took my advice, and put in his two weeks’ notice. Now, while his bank account was clearly ready for retirement, we found out later he wasn’t ready for retirement. Over the next several meetings we began to dig into what it was that made him feel unfulfilled and empty in retirement. The answers from our subsequent meetings completely changed the way we view retirement — and work for that matter.
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?
Not sure on this, but I have a good buddy who actually threw up at one of his first presentations to a prospective client however — all over their kitchen floor. After his meeting we were discussing the case and I bet him he’d get the client. A week later he did. He asked me why I was so certain he’d win the business and I told him it’s because the client was able to see him as a real person, not just an advisor wearing a suit. People do business with REAL people, who they know, like, and trust.
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 would say my grandfather, Ervin. He left a profound impact on me by the way he lived. It was in his final years when I was asked to help him with his tax and investment planning. I had reviewed his tax return for the first time and it blew me away, as he had a massive charitable carryover from years of giving well over 50% of his AGI leaving him with carryovers. I had seen many people “living beyond their means” but never anyone “giving beyond their means”. He didn’t have a lot of money, but what he did have he shared generously with others, and he left me with a very different view of money and giving.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Don’t get caught up in the numbers. Understand first that you are working with real people with lives that stretch far beyond financial statements. Base you success on the amount of lives you’re able to impact rather than AUM and you will meet all the AUM goals you could ever set and it will never feel like work.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Without regurgitating the guys I am reading, like Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, and John Maxwell, I’d just say be a servant leader. Might sound funny, but before all the leadership books which we all love became a big deal, it comes down to serving others in your organization and making sure they know you care… I’m still working on it.
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?
1. Retirement is not a permanent vacation.
2. Your job gave your purpose, now you need to replace it.
3. Retirement is going to rock your social ecosystem.
4. Do you have guardrails up to replace the ones your job gave you?
5. Are you ready for the most impact season of your life?
Lets 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?
1. Focus less on your wealth and more on your income. Wealth and growth of wealth is what we are accustomed to pre-retirement, but income and growing income is what we need to be ready for in retirement.
2. Assign goals to every asset and whenever possible, take the least amount of risk possible to accomplish those goals.
3. Be mindful how important giving is during retirement. This should be your most powerful years in making financial impact on your community, be prepared to do just that.
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?
1. Mental health will be more important than physical health. Keeping excitement, change, and purpose in your life will be more challenging than when in your career.
2. Replace the physical activity your job gave you — be sure to use modern technology (fitbit, apple watch, etc.) so you can see just how much you move in your day job so you keep moving when you leave it and retire.
3. Focus “earned rest” not a “permanent vacation” What I mean by this is weekends are more enjoyable because you had the week of work before it. Retiree’s today need to balance impactful living with well-deserved rest, which is earned from some type of work.
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?
1. Will this location give you community?
2. Will it give you a place to serve?
3. Can you still be in proximity to leave and legacy to your kids/grandkids?
A follow up story to why I feel this way is due to my spending time with clients in retirement communities down south. Without getting on a soapbox, I would note that retirement communities can be wonderful places, and excel in the community aspect; they many times lack the serving element and proximity to impact your kids/grandkids.
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.
We don’t want retires to buy the lie that society is telling them. Society is telling retirees today that they have no more to offer, and they should just cruise into the sunset. Not true! Baby Boomers are the last tie to the greatest generation; they have so much to give, and without them, we lose the tie to those who lived before them. This world NEEDS them to plug-in.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Not thinking of one in particular, but right now I am reading the The Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. I’ve always been interested in people doing things out of the ordinary, challenging the way people think about things.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Zig Ziglar’s motto “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”
This quote/motto has really changed the way I live my life and how we run the company. The earlier question on avoiding burnout can be answered the same way, helping people get what they want will give you the energy and motivation to keep going no matter where we are in a market cycle. Again, base you success on the amount of lives you’re able to impact rather than AUM and you will meet all the AUM goals you could ever set and it will never feel like work.
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Thank you for all of these great insights!