While there are many issues, the three that I would start with are: 1)have a process to secure and monitor your financial/credit information 2)understand your current and projected health care costs, 3) share your financial goals with someone you trust. While I feel the first two are fairly obvious, the third one I focus on more after an unfortunate client situation about 10 years ago. A short time after retiring, this client became suddenly ill and passed away a few months later. While he had an appropriate will and estate plan, he had not shared his wealth distribution goals verbally with his children/beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the will was contested and the estate settlement process was prolonged with significant family infighting. It was very sad to witness as I am sure he felt he had sufficiently documented his wishes and things would flow smoothly upon his eventual passing. I believe if he had also communicated his wishes to his children (either before his passing or via a video for them to watch after his passing) there would have been less discord within his estate settlement.
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 Craig N. Robson, Founding Principal and Managing Director of Regent Peak Wealth Advisors.
Earlier this year Craig launched Regent Peak Wealth Advisors, a registered independent advisory firm, after 25 years of successfully leading a wealth advisory team within Merrill Lynch. Craig has been recognized for his investment acumen including being named in Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and most recently 2018. Craig also was recognized by Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisors list in 2019.
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?
Glad to, thanks for the opportunity. I graduated in 1991 with an engineering degreefrom Lehigh University and was hired by Accenture Consulting (previously Andersen Consulting). While working at a client engagement in the early 90s, one of the executives I worked with closely confided in me their recently announced promotion and corresponding compensation increase. I found it surprising that this individual did not fully comprehend their new compensation structure (mostly equity-based) nor were they able to articulate how this new potential wealth would alter or change their specific life goals (I subsequently learned they had not identified any goals nor had they engaged with an advisory professional to objectively counsel them). This scenario was the catalyst for me in transitioning my career towards partnering with wealth creators so they may harness their hard efforts and focus on what they tell us is most important to them such as their family, professional careers, hobbies, and interests, etc.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Hmm, while there are many to choose from, I will always remember the time I met with a prospective C suite executive who was introduced to me by another executive within his organization. In doing my due diligence, I had learned this individual could be abrasive and I should be prepared for a tough initial meeting. After completing a ‘small talk’ at the beginning of the meeting, I asked him why he felt it was a good use of his time to meet with me? He proceeded to share with me multiple concerns he had within his financial situation and that his wife implored him to engage a professional to help his family coordinate their financial affairs. He then proceeded to confide in me that he knew he had a reputation within the organization of being difficult to work with yet, in his words, he was really ‘a teddy bear’ underneath his brash demeanor. I joked that I had only heard he was a ‘softie’ from others within the organization and from that point on the meeting was more pleasant/cordial which culminated in him and his wife becoming new clients of our practice within the next few weeks. Going forward, this individual became a great advocate of our team and introduced us to many other executives within that organization. The 2 ‘takeaways’ I learned from that scenario which I still apply today are 1) while it is important to conduct due diligence before any new prospective client meeting, don’t let others formulate your final impression on any individual, and 2) individuals who professionally respect each other within the same organization, yet may not personally align, may still introduce you if they feel your advisory offerings provide value.
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 am not sure I would categorize it as a mistake, yet we all got a few chuckles after the experience. I was in the first few months of my career and my manager required that I ‘cold walk’ business parks one day to try to meet business owners — I would not advise this in today’s society! One business owner was so upset with me (he directed me to the No Solicitation sign on his door) that he was planning to call the police. I begged him not to as I was only following instructions from my boss at the time. He found this interesting and asked me why would my boss ask me to do this? I told him that I was in a training program and we were learning different ways to meet individuals to potentially add clients. I then asked him if his sales team/professionals had ever considered this type of business development strategy? He was somewhat impressed by my response yet also unsure if I was telling him the truth. So, he made a deal with me that he would call my manager and if he confirmed my story he would not call the police on me. To complete the story, they both spoke, and it was a very productive conversation. When I arrived at the office the next day, I was convinced my manager would be mad at me for inconveniencing him with the call from the business owner yet, the opposite occurred. He said the call proved that I actually met with business owners that day as most of the other individuals in the program did not. He then told me I should ‘drip’ on this individual over the next year — he, unfortunately, did not become a client! I learned a few valuable lessons from this scenario such as 1) anyone you meet could be a prospective client, 2) try to turn a negative situation into a positive, 3) always be kind, professional and honest in your responses.
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?
A client once told me that his definition of a mentor is one who spends more time with you than is warranted. I found that to be fitting as I have benefited from many ‘mentors’ throughout my career. From a professional perspective, I would like to acknowledge Brian Sepe who hired me in 1994 and was incredibly generous with his time and knowledge of the wealth management industry. From a personal perspective, my wife Angelia who continues to be my biggest advocate and supporter.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Pursue interests outside of the financial services industry, allocate time each day to think quietly/meditate, leverage external partners/experts to challenge your current plans.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Empower others around you, provide them opportunities for professional growth.
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?
In our practice, we think of it as ‘rewiring’ rather than ‘retiring’. So during the next phase of one’s life, the five items I advise relationships to consider are: 1) have a plan to stay socially and mentally engaged, 2) keep active and develop an exercise program to offset/mitigate rising health care costs, 3) expect the unexpected so ensure your financial plan is dynamic/flexible 4) consider hiring a professional to advise you which may prolong/maximize your benefits in retirement and 5) don’t wait too long in retirement to accomplish all of your goals as each day is a blessing.
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?
While there are many issues, the three that I would start with are: 1)have a process tosecure and monitor your financial/credit information 2)understand your current and projectedhealth care costs, 3) share your financial goals with someone you trust. While I feel the first two are fairly obvious, the third one I focus on more after an unfortunate client situation about 10 years ago. A short time after retiring, this client became suddenly ill and passed away a few months later. While he had an appropriate will and estate plan, he had not shared his wealth distribution goals verbally with his children/beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the will was contested and the estate settlement process was prolonged with significant family infighting. It was very sad to witness as I am sure he felt he had sufficiently documented his wishes and things would flow smoothly upon his eventual passing. I believe if he had also communicated his wishes to his children (either before his passing or via a video for them to watch after his passing) there would have been less discord within his estate settlement.
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?
Of course, as we recognizehealthcare is such an important component within one’s financial wellness plan which we illuminate in every financial plan we customize for our relationships. There is some repetition to my answers here as we may have responded to this topic in previous questions yet # 1) easy access to healthcare facilities, 2) keep active and develop an exercise program to offset/mitigate rising health care costs, and 3) have a plan to stay socially and mentally engaged.
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?
Glad to as I have these conversations with family members periodically 1)easyaccess to healthcare, 2) optionality for lifestyle choices to stay active, and 3) rent a property for 6–12 months in this new location before relocating so you have a ‘trial run’ before you purchase a place to live. I have experienced many situations where clients choose to move to a retirement community only to move a few years later to be closer to family/grandchildren/social acquaintances/medical care so it is important to thoroughly think through your relocation plans.
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. 🙂 Ourfamily loves animals so I would love to create a movement regarding pet adoptions. Animals provide such great companionship to humans. There are so many animals in shelters/rescue groups that require a good home. My wife and I have been adopting dogs from primarily rescue groups since we were married in 2000. Now that we have kids, we plan to include them in future adoption scenarios while also having them periodically volunteer at local animal rescue groups. We have benefited tremendously from the dogs we have adopted over the years (we have 2 currently) and I like to think the animals have equally benefited from our family.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story? The Long Walk, written by Ronald Downing and based on his conversations with Slawomir Rawicz, a Polish army lieutenant who was imprisoned after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in WWII. The book details Rawiciz’s claim that he and 6 other prisoners escaped a Siberian prisoner camp and walked 4,000 miles to safety in British India. I recently read this book and it’s a fantastic testament of the human spirit and the will to survive. The book has been an inspiration for me personally as life provides each of our challenges, many of which are unexpected. How we respond to our respective challenges is most important in going forward.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life? You bet!My Aunt Irene gave this one to me many years ago and it immediately resonated with me: “If you have your health and your family than you have your wealth.” I am living this story today as I resigned from Merrill Lynch earlier this year and forego significant deferred compensation to start my own independent advisory firm to better serve the relationships we advise. My family, my health and my teammates provided me the confidence to make this decision and I haven’t looked back since!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media? Regentpeakwealth.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!