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“Managing day to day.” With Jason Hartman & Patrick Hanzel

The biggest piece of financial advice I can offer during uncertain times is to take a breath before making any big money moves, so you can really look at the big picture. We’re going to recover from this, so it’s important to do your best not to let your emotions cloud your decision-making. Because fear […]

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The biggest piece of financial advice I can offer during uncertain times is to take a breath before making any big money moves, so you can really look at the big picture. We’re going to recover from this, so it’s important to do your best not to let your emotions cloud your decision-making. Because fear and anxiety is heightened during these times, pausing before acting can be helpful — this goes for handling your finances and even managing your day-to-day life.


As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Hanzel.

Patrick Hanzel is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and senior associate on the advanced planning team at Policygenius. He has eight years of industry experience, previously working as an advisor and associate at Northwestern Mutual. Patrick has a degree in Business Administration from Nebraska Wesleyan University.


Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Iinterned for Northwestern Mutual my senior year of college. Their internship program essentially lets you be your own boss and start building a personal book of clients, so you can hit the ground running after graduation. This was attractive to me because it allowed me to set my own schedule and work when I had the time, which was between classes and golf team practice. Beyond teaching me the ins-and-outs of the industry, the experience taught me the importance of the fiduciary responsibility I have to every single client. After graduation, I stayed at Northwestern Mutual for more than seven years, and then transitioned to Policygenius, where I’ve been for a couple years now.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I had a client who was a physician and kept a workout machine in his office. He lived by a theory that you only need four minutes a day on that machine to get all the exercise you need. At the end of one of our meetings, he insisted I hop on and give it a try. So, wearing my full suit and tie, I completed a four minute workout. It may have felt funny at the time, but it goes to show that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to connect with people.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now, I’m focusing on helping my clients navigate the rapidly evolving financial landscape during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes helping them find the right insurance for their needs. We’re in uncertain times, but having this financial protection can bring some sense of security and peace of mind.

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?

My fiancée, Ellyn, has been instrumental in my professional development and success by pushing me to be my best. She motivated me to complete my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, which has helped me better assist my customers and has opened new doors along my career path.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

The biggest piece of financial advice I can offer during uncertain times is to take a breath before making any big money moves, so you can really look at the big picture. We’re going to recover from this, so it’s important to do your best not to let your emotions cloud your decision-making. Because fear and anxiety is heightened during these times, pausing before acting can be helpful — this goes for handling your finances and even managing your day-to-day life.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

Stick to your plan. The biggest advantage of “dollar cost averaging” is purchasing more shares when costs are down. Now is a great time to capitalize on the pullback in the market. If you feel like your portfolio is at risk, consider re-evaluating and diversifying your investments to help promote long-term success.

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

This is a key example of proper diversification having a major impact in reducing risk. Investing in only one or two sectors can be very risky because if those industries start to struggle, you would take a major hit. My advice would be to make sure your overall portfolio is properly diversified. After that, you can invest more in sectors you’re particularly passionate about.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

Something we’re seeing amid the coronavirus outbreak is a new emphasis on technology. For example, insurance carriers are adjusting to remote work and utilizing things like virtual claims to keep the business moving. In that vein, the technology sector may prove advantageous for some investors — but remember not to put all your eggs in one basket and to do your research before making any decisions.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

Some sectors have taken a bigger hit than others — like the travel and hospitality industries you mentioned — and may prove lucrative when the economy bounces back.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

My recommendation would depend on their circumstances. If they don’t currently have three to six months of expenses saved in an emergency fund, that would be the first priority. It’s important to make sure any short-term hiccup or unexpected expense won’t have a devastating impact on your overall financial plan. Another way to protect yourself from unplanned financial burdens is by having the right types of insurance, like life, disability, home and auto coverage. Once you’ve solidified your financial protection plan, building out a well-diversified portfolio — not just one stock or a limited number of stocks — is my recommended next step.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  1. Don’t wait to start investing. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. It’s a typical recommendation among financial experts that you should be saving 15% or more of your pre-tax income for retirement — but you have to decide what’s right for your situation. If we go with that recommendation and you start putting 15% of your income into your 401(k) at age 25, the rate of return you would need to reach $1 million in savings is just 3.5%, based on the national average income. Comparatively, if you wait until you’re 40 you’d need returns of 6%, and if you wait until you’re 50 you’d need a rate of return more than 10%, which exceeds the average person’s lifetime returns on the stock market.
  2. Don’t let the unknown hold you back. This kind of ties into the first lesson, but don’t wait because you feel like a novice. Mutual funds or EFTs may be a good place to start because they’re more averse to market volatility than single stocks.
  3. Stick to your plan. It can be easy to deviate from your financial plan, especially when you’re tempted by big sales and seemingly great deals. But take pause and think about if you really need to make the purchase. For example, ask yourself if you really need to go to that Memorial Day sale or if you’d be better off saving or using that money for something else. Sometimes the answer may be that you should make that buy, but stopping to think about these decisions is a good habit to have.
  4. Beware of quick wins. It’s a gamble to bet on “market timing” and stock flipping — and the vast majority of day traders don’t actually make money. You’ll be better off sticking to a long term plan.
  5. Accept you won’t always win. Not every investment will be a winner — after all, the market is constantly fluctuating.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’ve always been taught to live by the golden rule. My parents instilled in me that you should treat others as you want to be treated, and it’s one of the principles Policygenius established within our company values. Not only do we put an emphasis on treating each other with respect, but we also extend this to our clients.

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

Wow, what a great question! Policygenius conducts an annual survey that I always find interesting — it talks about how people manage money in relationships. One of the big themes continues to be a lack of communication about money — from not knowing your partner’s salary to keeping secret bank accounts. Between that survey and what I’ve learned in consultations, I’d love to see people simply be more open to talking about their finances, especially with their partners.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

Thank you for having me!

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