Try to spend an extended amount of time somewhere before you move permanently. Life is not a vacation. Explore the parts of town where you might like to live. Get a feel for life as a local not a tourist.
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 Lauren Zangardi Haynes, CFP®, CIMA®. Lauren helps business owners create financial freedom and more time for the people and activities they love. She is the founder of the fiduciary, Fee-Only financial planning and investment advisory firm Spark Financial Advisors. She also serves as the President of the South Region board for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
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?
Incollege I planned on a career in international relations but realized during my senior year I should have listened to my Dad and majored in finance. After graduation a family friend pointed me in the direction of becoming a Certified Financial PlannerTM and it turned out to be my calling.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
A very sweet couple came to me, and the husband only had a few years left to live. They wanted to know, can we retire and travel the country in an RV now? If they did retire now, would the wife be financially secure into her old age? It was really powerful to help people fulfill their life dreams in a way that honored their time together and her security after his passing.
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?
Out of college I started with the Bank in a branch as a Personal Banker. I spoke enough Spanish to help customers a little and the other Personal Banker was almost fluent in Spanish. One day, a gentleman came in to cash a check and the tellers thought he spoke Spanish and asked us to help him. He seemed to be speaking Spanish with a really thick accent, we struggled to understand him. We seemed to understand about every 3rd word of what he was saying. It turns out, he was Brazilian and speaking in Portuguese. He could understand us enough to try and answer our questions but didn’t speak any Spanish.
From that experience I learned that it’s important to not make assumptions and to ask good questions.
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?
Many people have helped me get to where I am today. However, I vividly remember working at my desk in the Private Bank as a Client Service Associate a few years out of school when Fred., a well-respected Portfolio Manager stopped by my desk and suggested that I apply for an open Portfolio Analyst position. I really wanted to apply for the position, I was mostly through my CFP® education at that point, but it seemed like a big leap and I wasn’t confident that I was qualified for it. Long story short, I got the position and was mentored by Fred C. and Charlotte. They gave me tremendous opportunity to learn directly from them, join them in meetings, and to handle some client relationships. Fred was an advocate for me then and now. After I launched my business I asked him to coffee and thanked him. I don’t know that I would be where I am today without him suggesting I apply for the Portfolio Analyst position and then taking the time to help me learn and grow in the role.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
Join or form a Mastermind group or study group in your area with other financial planners who are on a similar journey. The support and advice of peers that I have received through my membership and participation in NAPFA has been extremely valuable personally and professionally.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Spend time training people one-on-one. I have received excellent training throughout my career because people have let me pull up a chair next to them and have talked me through what they were doing, how they were thinking, and let me ask questions.
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?
1. It’s hard to figure out what you are going to spend in retirement.
2. Protect your time. It’s easy to get involved more heavily than you originally anticipated in volunteer activities.
3. Make sure you have a social network outside of work before you retire.
4. It can be hard to make the mental transition from “saving” to “spending (or “accumulating” to “decumulating”).
5. How you expect to spend your day-to-day life and the way your spouse expects to spend their day-to-day life may not line up.
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?
1. Transitioning from saving for retirement to spending in retirement can be very scary.
I created a financial plan for a couple who were diligent savers and careful spenders. They moved in retirement to a new town and were working to make connections in their community. They both wanted to travel but one partner was very concerned about having the financial wherewithal to take those trips to Europe. Through the life planning process, we were able to identify some big dreams they had for their lives. By integrating life planning into the financial planning process, we showed them that they could achieve those dreams. They booked the first trip to Europe. It was a really fun experience to work with them and to help them achieve such a happy outcome.
2. There’s a difference between risk tolerance, risk need, and risk capacity. You need to consider all of those things as you build your retirement portfolio.
3. For many people it makes sense to delay taking Social Security. Often, people want to claim Social Security earlier, so they don’t have to withdraw money from their portfolio. However, delaying Social Security is one of the best deals out there (assuming you are in good health). Each year you delay taking Social Security past your Full Retirement Age you get an 8% permanent increase in your monthly benefits up to age 70. There is no benefit to delaying Social Security past age 70. Talk to a Certified Financial PlannerTM or use an online tool to model your options.
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. Depression in retirement is real. The end of your career often brings a sense of loss in terms of your identity. Be proactive and think about how you will spend your time in retirement. Don’t wait until you are already retired to “figure it out.”
2. Want to lower your healthcare and long-term care costs in retirement? Stay healthy and active. Join the YMCA. Sign up for yoga. Cook and eat healthy meals.
3. Spend time outside.
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. Try to spend an extended amount of time somewhere before you move permanently. Life is not a vacation. Explore the parts of town where you might like to live. Get a feel for life as a local not a tourist.
2. What social opportunities will you have in a new area? Social connections are critical for an enjoyable retirement.
3. If you are planning on moving to be closer to family, have an open and frank discussion about what everyone’s expectations are for each other. How often will you see each other? What are the rules around impromptu visits?
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. 🙂
This is a difficult question. As a financial planner, I would have everyone learn about compound interest in high school. If you can understand compound interest, you will understand the destructive power of high interest debt and the wealth building power of long-term investing.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
They Led the Way by Johanna Johnston. It was a series of short stories about feminists throughout American history given to me when I was in 5th or 6th grade. Reading about women who lived bravely and unconventionally (for their time) helped shape my view on what was possible for me. I still own the book and look forward to sharing it with my children.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“We can’t be brave without fear” -Muhammad Ali
I thought about starting a business for a long time before I actually took the leap. Some might say I agonized over it. I had a comfortable job with an opportunity for ownership at a firm with people I respected. Even with all of that, I couldn’t put the idea of starting my own company to rest. So, I took the leap and started Spark Financial Advisors. Entrepreneurship can be a roller coaster and is sometimes scary. Yet after taking the leap into business ownership I feel like a butterfly, who with wings newly unfurled, has just made the beautiful discovery that she can fly.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@SparkFinancialAdvisors on Facebook
@LaurenZHaynes on Twitter
@LaurenZangardiHaynes on LinkedIn
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!