How do you know when enough is ENOUGH?

How do you determine what will be enough income in retirement for your clients? To answer this questions, we need to look at replacement ratio theories and apply them to today's economic environment.


According to Dave Littell at the American College of Financial Services: 

– 60% of clients said that they did not have an idea what it would take to provide income for them

- 55% of clients felt their advisors did a good job of counseling them on accumulation BUT

- Only 40% of clients said their advisors did a good job of counseling them on income

So how do we ensure that we are the advisors doing a GOOD job counseling clients on income? What principals are we using to determine what is an adequate amount of retirement income?

Before we try to find an amount of income that will create a similar lifestyle to what the client had PRE retirement, we need to ensure that we can meet necessary expenses including uninsured medical costs.

A retirement income replacement ratio refers to how much income a client has to work with post – retirement as a percentage of how much they had pre – retirement. The classic approach to replacement ratios has been the industry standard for decades and is anywhere between 70-85%.

For example, if your client made $100,000 before retirement, they would need $70,000 - $85,000 in their retirement years to live comfortably and meet expenses.

This assumes that taxes will go down for retirees, Social Security is partially or fully tax free, there is no longer a need to save, and other expenses, like work expenses, go away.  This is an oversimplistic and inappropriate way to approach such an IMPORTANT part of building a plan.

The traditional calculation DOES NOT include:

-          Uninsured medical expenses

-          Catastrophic events – like landing in a nursing home

And when you compound that with other threats to a retirement income plan….

-          Longevity risk

-          Inflation risk – or purchasing power risk

-          Health care cost risk

-          Investment risk

-          Sequence of returns risk

….. a 70-85% income replacement ratio is not going to cut it in 2018.

In fact, that number increases EXPONENTIALLY.

Real Replacement Rates required YEAR ONE of retirement:

Male, Age 65, high income: 

To be 50% sure of covering expenses: 52% replacement rate

To be 90% sure of covering expenses: 119% replacement rate

Female, age 65, high income

To be 50% sure of covering expenses: 59% replacement rate

To be 90% sure of covering expenses: 129% replacement rate

.... And the numbers for your lower – middle income clients are even worse.

Please contact me if you are having a hard time meeting a higher replacement ratio for your clients. There are several strategies you can use (and we can help you with) to get your clients to a comfortable retirement income value.

My Email:
My Direct Line: (703) 297 4774

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Here is a link to the ERBI 2013 Study and the complete findings:

Don't be a desk potato!

Physical inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of people living in the modern world. – World Health Organization, 2010

Older adults who are sedentary may be just as likely to develop dementia as people who are genetically predisposed to the condition. – Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017

Sedentary workers who exercised were just as high risk for health issues as those who didn’t exercise regularly. - Doug Dupont, 2013

Sedentary lifestyles affect our health and productivity in countless negative ways. One of the mantras of this century is: Sitting is the new smoking. While spending extended periods of time isn't exactly the same thing as smoking a pack of cigarettes daily, there are some serious long term effects that result from not regularly getting enough exercise:

-          Premature death

-          High risk of various cancers - lung cancer included

-          Higher risk of diabetes

-          Slowed metabolism

-          Faster build up of fatty acids aka higher risk of heart disease

-          Digestion problems

-          Back and hip pains

-          Poor posture

-          Osteoporosis

-          Higher stress levels

-          Accelerated aging process

-          Lower productivity and energy

… and the list goes on.

As a financial professional, you are probably a good candidate to be impacted by the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us spent 8 – 10 hours a day sitting - not including the time we spend in our cars commuting, at the dinner table or on the couch watching tv. With average sleep being at about 7.5 hours a night, we are sitting at a desk more than we are sleeping.

Small adjustments will add up big time! You don't have to sprint laps around the office and high five your bewildered your colleagues to get some physical activity. Here are a list of 10 easy things you can start TODAY to be more productive now and healthier in the long run:

1.       Get a standing desk

Using a standing desk will improve posture, use more muscles, improve your blood circluation and burn more calories. It may take time to get used to standing, but once you get used to it, standing for long periods of time can alleviate some of the effects of sitting down all day and help you lose weight.

You can also use an adjustable desk that can be altered to a regular desk height when you get tired or use an elevated chair at your standing desk when you're ready for a break. 

Want to take it to the next level? There are some really cool treadmill desks on the market. 

2.       Use a surfboard desk

Using a "surfboard" desk or standing on a balance board will increase your heart rate by 15%, engage your core, improve happiness, boost performance. 

Fluidstance has the premiere working balance board. 

3.       Sit on an exercise ball

Okay - so you really like sitting. Give active sitting a shot by sitting on an exercise ball! This will also engage your core and be a benefactor to your posture.

4.       Set a timer

There are several free timer apps you can use to remind yourself to stand up and take a break throughout the day. Those breaks can consist of:

- Taking occasional walks around your office

- Going up and down the stairs

- Taking a lap around the building

- Simply standing up

             Dr. Joan Verniko, former director of NASA's Life Science Division and author of Sitting           Kills, Moving Heals, concluded during a double blind study that simply by standing up           35 times a day throughout the day will counteract the cardiovascular health risks                   associated with uninterrupted sitting.

Take it to the next level by throwing in:

  • A couple push ups
  • Jump squats
  • Jump ropes
  • Walking lunges
  • Wall sits
  • Triceps-dips
  • Calf raises
  • Jumping jacks

What you do when your timer goes off doesn’t have to be anything crazy- the movement is what counts !

5.       Rethink your meetings

Sitting in a meetings and conference rooms are traditionally a time to sit on your butt. Next time you have a meeting, have a standing meeting instead! 

If its a beautiful day, consider going for a walk. Walking meetings are proven to have several benefits - personally and professionally. For example: 

- Creative output increase by an average of 60% when they are walking

- Conversations are more relaxed and less tense when walking

- Walking meetings improve energy and engagement

Next time you want to have a meeting - give it a go. Literally.

6.       Working out at lunchtime

When you're a busy person, which many of us are, it can be hard to find time to work out. Lunch time is great opportunity to do it if: 

- You can take (atleast) an hour for lunch

- You have a gym less than 10 minutes away

- You can work out intensely for (atleast) 30 minutes

- Your gym gear is prepped and ready to go

Not only will you give your body a break from sitting, but you'll:

- Be more productive

- Have more energy

- Be in a better mood

- Experience less back pain

If you can’t make it to the gym, plan to spend atleast half of it walking around – either outside, around your building, or within your building.

7.       Add a few extra blocks to your daily commute or park farther away

This is pretty self explanatory and will result in a couple extra minutes of daily exercise you might not have otherwise been getting.

8.       Get a headset

They say you gotta walk the walk AND talk the talk.

Whenever your phone rings, get out of your chair before you pick it up and don’t sit back down until you have hung up the phone. If you have a headset or cell phone, pace your office and get some steps in until you finish your conversation.

As Michael Kitces says in a 2015 blog, "even at a comfortable stroll (which is about 2mph to 2.5mph for most people), a one-hour conference call turns into a 2+ mile walk that hardly feels like working. Two hours of calls and you’ll knock out 4-5 miles in a day (which I track on my FitBit HR). Or as much as 20 extra miles of walking in a week. Which amounts to burning almost 2,000 additional calories. Which means you can lose half a pound a week (or more as you build a little more lean muscle mass), or shed about 25 pounds in a year, just by walking around while you’re doing the telephone calls you were doing anyway!"

9.       Get a steps tracker

"The better your awareness, the better your choices. As you make better choices, you will see better results." - Anonymous

"Self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion." - Billie Jean King

The American Heart Association recommends that people get 10,000 steps a day. The average man is only taking 5,340 steps daily and the average woman takes 4,793. You don’t need anything fancy to track your steps- even a simple pedometer will help! I personally use a Fitbit, but you can use any of these top activity trackers. 

Turn it into a game! Have your coworker who has the least amount of steps at the end of the week buy lunch. 

10.   Re-organize the layout of your office

"If you're interested, you'll do what is convenient; if you're committed, you'll do whatever it takes." - John Assaraf

Often, we keep everything within arms reach - printers, filing cabinets, telephones, electricity outlets. Spread things out a bit so that you have to get up to complete tasks throughout the day.


Our clients, along with our family and friends, need us to stick around for a while. We should be doing what's in our control to make sure we're around and in good shape for as long as possible. Forgetting everyone else - we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies and minds. The things that are outside of our control are not worth our energy or stress, but things like how much activity we get throughout the day is something we have some power over. Use that power and don't be a desk potato! 

To win a prize and be featured in next weeks blog as the The Most Active and Superfantastic Advisor of the Week, send a picture of your office exercise equipment, steps tracked on your fitbit, your team on a walk, or getting some activity during off business hours. Winner will be chosen next Wednesday. 

Stay tuned for next week's blog with another business building idea, and if there's anything you're working involving marketing, annuities, or life insurance, let's set up a time to talk.

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Who's on your roster?


“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - African Proverb

Having independence as a financial services professional is a beautiful thing. You can use whatever products, partners, and tools you want to help your clients and build a business. It can be a little tougher to build the client base, but at the end of the day, your clients are YOUR clients.  And when you work really hard to onboard prospects and build relationships, why would you not want them all to yourself?

I hear it all the time. 

“My client has been talking to their CPA and I don’t want them to get the business.”

“My client has an appointment with their investment advisor next week, so I have to meet with them THIS week and make sure I get the business.” 

“I want to offer P&C, life, annuities, investments, stocks, Medicare, taxes, and cheeseburgers so I’m a one stop shop and I keep those clients forever.” 

Would our clients be flattered if they knew how much we cherished them and wanted them to ourselves? For sure.

But are they better for it? Probably not.

Retirement planning is a complex task that calls for specific expertise in several subject areas. Clients that have a holistic retirement planning team that works together to meet their retirement goals and income needs are much better off, which will be a direct benefactor to working smarter and growing your business.

Why work with a planning team?

1. When a client feels confident in their plan and that they have received good service, they will be HAPPY! Happy clients are more likely to give out referrals - which gives you the chance to grow your business.

2. You will be more efficient and productive when you focus on what you're good at - a principle known as "comparative advantage". When you find a lane (and stay in it), you will work smarter, plan better, communicate more effectively, and shine brighter. The client will also get more value when you are providing them with something that goes deeper than surface level.

3. You are building your network and ideally cultivating some professional relationships that result in more clients through referral partners when you work with other specialized financial services professionals.

4. Family members can be an important contributor to the retirement planning team. Not only can they contribute to the plan, but they also are potential clients.

So you want to collaborate with a retirement planning team. We’ve already answered the “Why”, but you may have more questions:

Who makes up a complete retirement income planning team?

  • Financial planner
  • Health care specialist
  • Retirement income specialist
  • Stock broker
  • Investment professional
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Money manager
  • Insurance agent
  • Family members
  • Client

What does this team do?

  • WORK TOGETHER to ensure that client’s retirement goals and income needs are met
  • Create a plan
  • Implement a plan
  • Monitor the plan
  • Communicate with the client and each other
  • Serve the client

When does the teamwork begin?

  • The teamwork begins with the client. The client may work with an crowd of professionals but frequently, they are not on the same page, and it remains that way because more advisors do not take the initiative to coordinate their work, despite not always have all the information they need to develop a unified, holistic plan.
  • The sooner they can get on the same page, the less work is duplicated, the less time is wasted, and the better!
  • Its a good idea to have all the advisors at the same meeting early in the planning process. While this can be hard to crganize, it will be very valuable.

Where do the advisors in the team come from?

  • Both the client and yourself as the agent/advisor/money manager, etc. have a responsibility in finding the right players for the team.
  • Advisors should come from credentialed establishments and a place of expertise. They should come from professional service groups and with referrals. 

So next time you have a client...

- Concerned about Medicare

- Re-evaluating their equity positions

- Questioning the impact of taxes

- Wondering what effect their decisions have on their legacy

... You might want to consider: 

- Telling your client to consider building a team

- Offer to work collaboratively with other financial services professionals they're working with

- Calling that CPA you see at your Chamber meetings (and getting client permission before sharing any personal information)

The end game of working with a team is a client that is better prepared to meet their financial objectives and creating new relationships that will directly benefit your business.

For more information on how to be the "Coach" of the team and a leader in coordinating efforts, set up a call with me here, or email me at

Stay tuned for next week's blog with another business building idea, and if there's anything you're working involving marketing, annuities, or life insurance, let's set up a time to talk.

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Today's content comes from "HS353 Retirement Income Process, Strategies, and Solutions" by David Littell through the American College of Financial Services (2017)

Go for the goal!

Kristin Shea, Sept 2017

What do you talk about with your clients when you meet with them? How do you measure “growth”? What about “progress” or “risk”? How does your approach affect your ability to cultivate your relationships with clients?

Most financial advisors are classically trained to work with their clients based on the traditional financial planning approach. Using this method, an advisor will primarily focus on the returns of the assets and allocations compared to market benchmarks to determine how much “growth” the client is experiencing, what kind of “progress” they’re making, and how much “risk” they are exposed to.

If you are primarily talking to your clients about percentages and dollars or you are consistently finding yourself justifying the performance of an asset, you may be a student of the traditional financial planning school of thought. If that’s the case, you also may want to reconsider your approach.

Today's industry leaders are adopting a goal's based planning system as opposed to the more traditional methodology. In today’s world, your clients want more control over their financial lives and simultaneously demand unique and personalized financial plans based on their own wants and needs. By using a goals-based planning system, you will develop more holistic financial plans, provide more customized service, and strengthen client relationships.

Tradition v goals.jpg


Clients who work with goals-based planners:

-          Have more clarity on their investment decisions

-          Feel a sense of control over their financial future

-          Are more confident in their financial plans (and planners)

-          Have an enhanced decision making ability

-          Complain less

-          Are less likely to switch advisors


By practicing goals-based planning, you will:

-          Attract new clients

-          Gain trust

-          Increase client retention

-          Differentiate yourself from other advisors

-          Have a lesser likelihood of losing clients during market volatility

-          Have a reduced need to explain performance

-          Have a higher suitability correlation


So what does that look like?

Goal’s-based planning assumes that the unique experiences, preferences, and personality of an investor are the driver of their financial behavior.  The foundation is a focus on developing measurable short-, intermediate-, and long term needs over the course of a client’s lifetime that are then prioritized by what is essential, preferable, and discretionary.

Once the advisor has a good understanding of what the client wants to accomplish (and avoid), the advisor will work to establish a timeline for each goal and identify a unique strategy to meet each. This allows the client to have a better understanding of who they want to be as a person as well as their financial goals, and the advisor can be more intentional with conversations and the plans for each portion of a portfolio.

The key to a successful goals-based planning practice is staying in regular contact with the client to monitor the plan and their progress towards the goals. Advisors need to be on top of circumstances that may affect the goals of an individual or the ability for them to meet them. You should be conducting regular reviews or at least staying in close contact with clients to make sure the plan is consistent with objectives.


Where do we start?

-          Introduce the approach to your clients at the first meeting. Explain that your key objective is to ensure the client meets their wealth management goals.

-          Ask your clients what their real life goals are. What do they want for them selves in their life time? What do they want for their loved wants? Your clients are unlikely to speak in terms of performance and percentages.

-          Develop an agreement that your success will be measured based on achievement of goals, NOT by investment performance. If your client meets a goal, you deserve an “A”!

-          Establish servicing standards on the front end – how often you should meet and the manner in which you stay up to date on life changes.

-          Restructure your meetings:

o   Start with asking for an update on the client- both personally and financially

o   Confirm that the goals that have been developed are current and make any necessary changes.

o   Ask your clients if they are meeting their goals.

o   After the goals have been reviewed, then review investments. Investment performance should be reviewed in terms of goals meeting, not comparing to benchmarks.

-          Make sure your marketing materials and messaging is consistent with the goals-based approach.

By practicing the above, you can transform your practice into one that will make both you and your clients happier and successful - short and long term.

For more ideas on how to transition to a goals based planning, click here to schedule a meeting with me.  Also, connect with me on LinkedIn or check out my blog for more ideas and strategies to take your business to the next level. 



How do you make people feel like they can trust you?

Kristin Shea, Aug 2017

Trust is defined as “the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”.

In 2016, the American Association of Individual Investors asked 1,904 respondents much they trust the financial services industry to do what is in the best interest of its clients. The results are not surprising considering the recent spotlight on the DOL’s fiduciary rule, but they are not to be taken lightly.

Only 2% of respondents claim to trust financial professionals “a lot”, while 15% say they trust them “a little”.

So how do we earn trust with our clients? Ideally, trust is there before the relationship starts. There is no better way to begin a client relationship than if it comes as a referral. Another way to establish trust early is through having credibility in your social networks – both online and offline. As the relationships with your clients evolve, you’ll have the chance to establish a track record of doing what you say you’re going to do and proving your character over time.

But let’s pretend like you’re meeting someone for the first time – you’re networking at your local Chamber of Commerce, at a volunteering event, running a booth at a County festival, or talking to a stranger in the grocery store check out. At this point, the question changes from how do we earn trust with our clients to how do we develop trust with other human beings (and fast)?

Like many things, trust comes from a chemical reaction. Cue the fancy science word of the day – Oxytocin. Oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone”, regulates social interaction and is the founding hormone of trust. It can reduce stress and anxiety and increase psychological stability and relaxation.  

If you can find a way to activate oxytocin in the people you interact with, you will have a better chance of gaining and retaining clients. With your practice and business in mind, here are 8 ways to stimulate trust building hormones in others (and yourself):

1.       Active listening and eye contact

Connecting with others increases oxytocin and elevates trust. You cannot effectively listen to other people and engage in meaningful conversations when you are not giving people your full attention – doing things like texting, answering emails, staring out the window. Be present in your conversations with others. Listen to what they have to say. Watch what they do. They will feel closer to you for it.

2.       Bring your pet into the office

Positive interactions with pets, combined with the human instinct to care for others, will increase oxytocin levels. Many top advisors bring their dog to the office or keep treats at the office for the pets of their clients. Another thing we’ve seen advisors do is – as a client event or as a part philanthropic initiative - volunteer at a local pet shelter.

3.       Become a hugger

This one is very simple – human touch is a foundation for intimacy, bonding, and acceleration relationships. Therefore positive touches, like hugs, activate oxytocin. Because some people are not as comfortable with touching, be mindful when and how you use this trust building tool. Instead of shaking hands – offer that you’re a hugger, and if they are too, then hey! Give em a hug!

4.       Have a walking meeting

Physical activity stimulates the neurons in our brain – including oxytocin. Walking meetings, also known as the “walk and talk” are becoming increasingly recommended by business coaches as the act of walking increases creative thinking, leads to more honest exchanges, breaks down barriers, and increases engagement.

Couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Consider including an extra curricular destination on your route
  • Do not surprise your clients with walking meeting
  • Stick to small groups
  • If its a warm day, bring a couple bottles of water

5.       Take it to the extreme

Many social activities that are moderately “stressful” can stimulate oxytocin. Invite a group of 10 people or so to an amusement park, go Go-Kart racing, or rock climbing to put an exciting twist on client events. Maybe consider prospecting at 5k's.

6.       Give gifts or do favors

There are some limitations that financial professionals may face when it comes to giving gifts depending on their license, but receiving gifts is a surefire way to elevate oxytocin. Another thing you can do to evoke a similar response could be as simple as baking someone cookies or offering them a tissue.

7.       Share a meal

Eating food is a comforting social act. Sharing meals will increase trust levels with others. To combine this with tip #6, eat on your dime! Take your clients out to coffee, invite your A-List clients out to dinner, host a wine tasting event, have a cookie exchange, or even buy the stranger next to you at the bar a drink. According to Matt Oechsli’s research, “non-business lunches” have the highest correlation to acquiring new business.

8.       Use social media

Wondering why everyone is so addicted to Facebook? Its because social media makes people FEEL GOOD! Connecting with strangers, your friends, and clients on Facebook or LinkedIn and then sharing stories, pictures, information with them online is one of the most effective ways to raise oxytocin. Just don’t forget about your friends and life in the real world. :)