A message from Terry Bradshaw


Last week, I spent a couple days out on the West Coast at Western International Securities’ 2018 conference. Hall of Fame quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, was the featured speaker. He started off his keynote presentation by asking everyone to stand up and shake the hand of someone sitting near them. Then, he asked us to give someone else a hug. He also asked us to give someone a kiss – which thankfully was just a joke. We found out that very quickly that Bradshaw is full of them.


Bradshaw has a pretty impressive rap sheet:

-          All-pro quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1970 – 1983)

-          Played in eight, won six AFC Championship games (1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979)

-          Won four Super Bowl rings as starting QB (Super Bowl IX, X, XIII, XIV)

-          Two-time Super Bowl MVP

-          Qualified for three Pro Bowl games


If you ask Bradshaw what his secret weapon is, he’ll tell you its happiness.

Financial planning is a serious business, and as we know, “this is a serious world”. Bradshaw reminded his audience of 300+ financial services professionals of a concept that we seem to lose as we age - “Everything you do in life should be for fun”.

And he is exactly right.


Happy people:

-          Show superior performance and productivity

-          Convert more leads

-          Are less likely to burn out

-          Handle leadership positions better

Profits, winning, and being a top producer are all a natural expansion of living a joyful life. Research also shows that happiness comes BEFORE successful outcomes, more than following as a result.

We all know that life is a roller coaster and our moods are the same way. Our attitudes are largely affected by genetics and external factors – but research shows that roughly 40% of our happiness is up to us.  Either we create our happiness, or we don’t.  


Today, I present you with 10 habits of Terry Bradshaw and other happy, highly productive people:

1.  Express gratitude

I once heard a quote that says, “When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.” How cool is that? Bradshaw shared in his keynote presentation that every single morning when he wakes up, he is thankful and thrilled to start the day. He said, "Today is undeserved, unexpected, and I am thrilled to start the day." AMEN!



2. Cultivate optimism

Winners are able to create and foster a positive mindset. Real optimism is finding a silver lining in every situation. Optimistic people see downfalls as opportunities. Surprise, surprise, Terry does this too. Every evening, before he goes to sleep, Terry Bradshaw reflects on his day and finds one good thing that happened to him.



3.  Help others

Performing random acts of kindness releases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins which are all feel-good chemicals. This phenomenon is what’s known as a “helper’s high”. Not only do happy people want to give back, but they have plenty to share. Those that act selflessly have higher levels of daily positive emotion, have better overall mental health, and handle stress better.  



4. Nurture their relationships

Another Bradshaw quote: “Relationships are everything”. A study done by Harvard’s Department of Psychiatry on adult development followed hundreds of men for more than 70 years and concluded that the happiest (and healthiest) were those who nurtured strong relationships with people they trusted to support them. Close relationships require a commitment, a connection, a common purpose and theremore more fufillment and (you guessed it) happiness. 



5. Surround themselves with the right people

Investing in relationships with just ANYONE isn’t enough. Know which friends make you feel uplifted, supported, loved and appreciated. Know which friends are interested in your success and increase your happiness. Nurture the relationships with the people who bring out the best in you.

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6. Use their senses

Stop and smell the roses! People who slow down to appreciate the little things report feeling more satisfied on a day to day basis.


7. Get enough sleep

You heard me. That means a solid 7 - 9 hours a night.

You probably have first hand experience of a time when you've had a sleepless night and then been more irritable and vulnerable to stress. You've also probably seen that you bounce back pretty quick after a good night's sleep. Studies show that insomnia and lack of sleep is a relaible indicator of whether the individual has or will develop depression/anxiety disorders. So - you have my permission to go buy that $100 tempurpedic pillow. You're welcome. 

I've actually recently (like this past week) made the switch to hitting the gym in the morning rather than at night. The 6 pm caffiene rush of pre workout was not doing me - or anyone else - any favors. 

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8. Exercise regularly

Speaking of hitting the gym - getting exercise is crucial to having and maintaing a good attitude. And you don't need to be an All-Pro NFL quarterback to reap the benefits of physical activity. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, a chemical that reduces your perception of pain and creates positive feelings. That feeling, is known as a "runner's high" and typically comes with a re-energized and positive outlook on life. 

And get this! Regular exercise will improve your sleep habits!

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9. Have a growth mindset

Either you're someone who believes there is always room for improvement or someone who doesn't. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improves themselves and their situations with effort. As a result, they see obstables as opportunities and are less likely to be overwhelmed when they're in challenging situations. Those that cannot see stressful situations as growth opportunities are going to feel hopeless and stressed. 

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10. Make an effort to be happy

No one wakes up every single day in a fantastic mood, and even the HAPPIEST person you know is no exception. However, happy people are constantly evaluating their mood and making a contientous decision to be happy. A positive attitude can be difficult to maintain, but forming the right habits will pay off. 


Nursing Homes can do WHAT!?

Ever heard of Filial Laws? Until a couple weeks ago, I hadn't either. Let me tell you, they scared the $h!@ out of me!! I immediately picked up the phone, called my parents, and set a time to talk about their long-term care plans. After I called my parents, I called a group of advisors who were equally alarmed and very grateful for the head's up. And then, I even made a point to tell my friends.

If you aren’t convinced that long-term care planning is a critical part of the planning process or you're not making an effort to get your clients thinking about how they’ll manage their health care costs, I hope that changes today. This week, I’m going to give you some insight and tools to:

-  Change the conversation regarding long-term care

-  Make your clients want to be prepared for their health care expenses in retirement

-  Motivate family members to be interested in a participate in the LTC plan and moving it along

-  Create opportunities to connect with clients children and family members in a meaningful way


First, let’s refresh on some of the facts on LTC planning in America:

-  70% of Americans will need long-term care at some point

- Currently 10-12 million people in the US need LTC services

- The aging of the population is expect to result in a tripling of LTC expenditures – climbing to $346 billion annually in 2040

One in four people age 45 and over are not at all prepared financially if they suddenly require LTC for indefinite period of time

Why do our clients not want to plan for their health care costs in retirement?

Its really pretty simple. One – people don’t like thinking or talking about losing their mental or physical capabilities. Two – people just don’t think disability and frailty will happen to them. Most people think that their health will be the same (or better) in 10 years. They also think they will live longer than the average.

A study done in the Wall Street Journal about Americans and their preparedness for long-term care events references a psychological phenomenon called “narrow framing” – which is the tendency to exclude key factors when making decisions. According to the WSJ, “Narrow framing has been found to be common when individuals face complicated decisions—and shopping for long-term-care insurance is certainly one of those instances.” Narrow framers are half as likely to buy insurance of any kind – and especially long-term care.

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What this tells us is that we could be a bit more effective in helping our clients understand the need and scope of the problem.

Experts at the American College of Financial Services propose that we approach the conversation to be less about statistics, dollar amounts, and budgeting and more about family dynamics. The lives of the family members for a long-term care recipient are impacted in major ways. Your clients do not want to be a burden to their families – which they will be in one way or another if they are not prepared.   

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Let’s look at the facts regarding family care givers:

- Over 70% of all long term care comes from family members

Two thirds of older people with disability get all their care exclusively from their family caregiver

 One out of every five households are involved in caregiving

- Average length of family-provided long-term care is 20 hours per week

- Lost income and benefits over a caregivers lifetime ifs an average cost of $303,880

37 billion hours of long term care provided a year by unpaid caregivers

$3 trillion estimated lost lifetime wages due to unpaid caregiving responsibilities

83% of help provided to older adults is delivered by friends or family members

Long-term care planners have found that conversations positioned around the client’s family are much more effective than the ones surrounding “insurance” or “financial planning”.


I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck this has to do with Filial Laws

So, here it goes and I hope you’re ready.  Friends, advisors, insurance agents – I introduce you to Filial Laws.  You will find that filial laws are the ultimate motivator for long-term care planning discussions – and not just for your retiree, pre-retiree clients, but also the adult children you work with.

Filial Laws are laws that impose a duty upon third parties, usually (but not always) adult children for the support of their impoverished parents or other relatives. These laws have been on the books for decades, deriving from England’s 16th century “Poor Law’s” and a time when it was the cultural expectation for kids to take care of their family members throughout their lives. Recently, nursing homes and other long-term care providers were put on notice that they could use these laws to their advantage when they had patients who could not afford care anymore. Because service providers would rather receive pay from private sources than Medicare, these laws have been embraced.

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Nursing homes and government agencies have the ability to bring legal action upon the children who do not comply with filial laws. Depending on the state, adult children can be imprisoned, fined, or criminally charged for failing to support one’s parent.

There are currently 30 states with Filial Laws in place.

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Let’s look at one of the most well known cases where filial laws put an adult child on the hook

In 2012, Maryann Pittas relocated to Greece with an unpaid nursing home bill. The nursing home then sued her adult son, John Pittas, for the entirety of her $93,000 bill. Despite the evidence that the son had done no wrong doing and despite the fact that he only made $85,000 in annual income, Pennsylvania courts ruled that he was liable for the bill in its entirety. When the judgement was appealed to a higher court, it was upheld.  

Pennsylvania and South Dakota both have referenced these laws to recover unpaid medical expenses. As the population continues to age, funding sources are pressured, and long-term care costs rise, more states are expected to lean on filial laws to fund nursing home bills.

To put it simply – filial laws have the potential to wreck financial havoc and ruin families across multiple generations. Financial advisors need to open their eyes and help their clients understand the impact on family members


So how do we talk about this?

Begin the conversation about how the client’s old relatives, especially parents and grandparents, dealt with their own long-term care and retirement needs. Hopefully, this will get a story going about how long they lived, the type of care they needed, and how well prepared they were. How did it make your client feel? What was their experience? What would have made the situation better? Ask them the what if’s – specifically what if you become physically and financially reliant on your children? Fear based planning is unethical, so we need to be careful in how we educate our clients on filial laws. With that being said, it needs to be a part of the discussion.

As your clients reflect on his or her own family situation, it will be easier for them to see the need and visualize the possibilities in a meaningful way.


My only ask - when you have a client who is ready to talk about long-term care, I hope you call me first. I know some people in high places with awesome tools to help your clients plan for LTC. 




MY DIRECT LINE: (703) 297 4774

















How to Earn Your Stripes

Today, I am writing from the rooftop of the Amara Bangkok hotel in Thailand. In anticipation of taking a trip to Tiger World to feed the baby tigers, I wrote a special blog for my financial advising friends back in the states. Everyone was pretty much shut down in celebration of the Buddhist New Year/Songkran Festival so I won’t be able to see the tigers this trip, but I still would like to share an important message.

Side note: If you ever have the opportunity to go to Thailand, DO IT.

Bear with me on this blog. It might get a little corny with my pun usage. But I have a point, and its important. Plus, who doesn’t love a good pun? So, today, and everyday if you want, consider yourself a tiger.

This week’s blog is all about earning your stripes.

Unfortunately for tigers, the outlook for their existence isn’t the best. Tigers of every breed are an endangered.

On the other hand, the financial planning career is undergoing some tremendous “population” growth. According to Consumer Reports Money Advisor, the population of financial advisors will grow by 32% over the next decade. Think of three more advisors in your county for every 10 you already know.

While that may be daunting, we have a ton of control over our survival and success in this business. Tigers do not have that luxury, as their endangerment is a result of outside factors such as – loss of habitat, poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and climate change. Regardless of regulatory changes, investors and consumers are increasingly seeking out professional advice regarding their financial prosperity. Financial advising, insurance planning, risk management, estate planning are services that are not going anywhere. People looking for personal, professional, and financial fulfillment are increasingly wanting to become a financial advisor.

So as the strong and regal financial planning creature that you are, how do you differentiate yourself from all the other cats?

We have to earn our stripes.

There are several ways to earn your stripes, but today we are going to talk about one of the most important– getting credentialed through a curriculum that is recognized to be professional, standardized, and thorough. In fact, the morning of my flight to Bangkok, I took an exam for one of the courses I’ll be discussing below.

Why would you consider getting a certification?

-  Give you an edge over your uncredentialled competitors

- Open doors to conversations you might not have had access to otherwise

- Immediately identifies you as someone with rigorous competency, professionalism, and ethical standards.

- Shows that you are not only knowledgeable, but committed

- Helps you better serve and be a resource your clients. Better advice = more successful career.

- Keeps you up to date on trends and tools in an evolving landscape

- Provides a system of accountability

-  Provides job security or job opportunities – depending on your employment situation

- Is an excellent way to specialize

Whether you are just starting out or have been in the business for a long time, there is always room for improvement and learning.

What Institutions Should I Consider?

There are a couple primary schools that are popular among financial professionals. The schools provide a lot of flexibility in how to get your educations in a way that works for your lifestyle including – individual self-study, mentored study, and classroom instruction.

-          The American College of Financial Services

The American College was founded in 1927. Its first offering was the Certified Life Underwriter (CLU). Since then, over 100,000 financial professionals have earned their CLU and the American College has earned a reputation for being the place to get a quality education. Some of their courses include:

-          Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

-          Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)

-          Retirement Income Certified Planner (RICP)

-          Wealth Management Certified Professional (WMCP)

-          Financial Services Certified Professional (FSCP)

For more information on The American College and their programs, click here.

-          The College for Financial Planning

College for Financial Planning was founded and was the first to introduce the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification in 1972. Now, they have over 150,000 graduates from several different programs of study, including:

-          Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

-          Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor (APMA)

-          Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)

-          Chartered Retirement Plan Specialist (CRPS)

-          Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS)

For more information on The College for Financial Planning and their programs, click here.

-          Traditional Colleges

You may want to consider going through a state university to get your certification. Many times, your studies will award you both a Bachelors Degree, Masters Degree, or Ph.D. as you simultaneously get your designation.

For a list of the top colleges for financial advisors, click here.

The course you choose is going to be specific to you, your clients, your business, and schedule, but there are a couple I recommend that you consider.

-          Retirement Income Certified Planner (RICP)

The RICP certification is a relatively new course designed for any and all things retirement income. I lead with this one because it is a specific and concentrated course that prepares you to assist your clients in having a secure transition from the accumulation to decumulation phase. In the process, you will learn how to mitigate the 18 risks Americans will face in planning for their retirement.

There are three exams required to get this certification, so it can be done in a shorter period of time than some of the other certifications that require you to pass 5 – 9 exams. I just passed my second RICP exam the day I left for Thailand !! I’m getting a lot out of this class and I’d be happy to share my experience with you.

For more information on the RICP, click here.

-          Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

This is one of the most popular and esteemed certifications for financial advisors. It shows comprehensive expertise in portfolio accumulation and decumulation, estate planning, retirement planning, insurance, employee benefits, tax, and risk.

This accreditation is internationally recognized and accepted in about 25 countries world wide. There are over 70,000 CFP’s in the United States, as of 2018.

For more information on the CFP, click here.

For now, I leave you with this:

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin

Let’s get out there, explore our options, and earn some stripes!!

Always Be Connecting

Let’s play a game. Try to finish my sentence. Ready?

Always Be _______.

If you guessed “closing” was the next word, you’re close but no cigar for you. Today I’d like to introduce to you a new mantra:

Always be CONNECTING!!


If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a successful financial advisor, retirement planner, or insurance agent, which means you already understand the importance of connecting with new people on a frequent basis.

Financial services has slowly been adapting to the digital world and embracing online social platforms as a way to connect with others and grow their business. Traditionally, this has happened in face to face settings. We absolutely need to keep going to the local chamber meetings and participating in community fundraisers. But we also need to be online.

At our April Advisor Development Program, when we asked how many were using “Social Selling” techniques – about 5 people raised their hand. 5 out of 50 top financial advisors from across the country!

But, I can’t really blame them. It can be intimidating to know where to focus your time on the World Wide Web. The primary two platforms people talk about are Facebook and LinkedIn. Both platforms can be an incredible proponent for your prospecting, brand building, and online presence, however, there may be other tools that are worth considering. Different social media platforms serve different audiences and purposes.

So if I told you I could show you a new (and FREE) social platform to develop strategic connections and incite referral partnerships with:

-          Business owners

-          Professionals

-          Entrepreneurs

-          Like-minded individuals

-          Potential clients

-          COI’s

By time blocking, at the most, an hour of your day, would you be interested?

Allow me to introduce to you Alignable.



A retirement planner I work with out of Georgia once told me that Alignable is what we would get if Facebook and LinkedIn had a kid. Alignable’s leadership team describes it as a place “where small business owners build trusted relationships and generate referrals”.

It is THE social network for small business owners looking to build their local presence.

This network is specifically geared to nurturing B2B connections. Alignable is designed to connect local businesses to collaborate and communicate to mutually develop and grow everyone’s client bases.

A difference between Alignable and LinkedIn is that it is hyper-local, where LinkedIn allows you to connect on a global scale. Everyone wants to work with a local business – which is perfect for the independent financial advisor running a community firm.

Some of the most powerful features on Alignable are:

-          Showcase products and services

-          Share promotions

-          Poll potential customers

-          Discover insights from other professionals

-          Group Business Messaging

-          Support other local businesses

-          Collaborate to host / co-promote events

One of my favorite features is the ability to create a “referral flyer”. These flyers will auto populate with companies you’ve given referrals to. This flyer can be posted and shared to social media accounts or embedded into your website. It can be used to showcase which businesses you support and collaborate with.

As a financial professional but also an individual with interests and hobbies, your referral partners could be a CPA or your travel agent or the place where you go get your camping gear.

Alignable can opens doors to help business owners with:

-          Their own wealth management

-          Employee benefits

-          Business insurance

-          Key Man Insurance

-          Group Life Insurance

-          Business succession plans

-          Business investment strategies

That advisor from Georgia uses the same, simple message whenever he makes a new connection:

“Hey, glad to be connected Mr. Business Owner, I’d love to  learn more about you and your business and potential ways we can add value to one another. How does your calendar look for coffee, skype, or a quick call over the next week or two? “

Very simple. Very direct. NOT salesy.

Want to see what Alignable is all about? Contact me for tips on how to get started building your Alignable network.

Want to learn about our Social Selling programs? Schedule a call here.

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MY DIRECT LINE: (703) 297 4774








I'm Throwing the 4% Rule Away

Since 1995, the approach to retirement income planning has revolved around determining a sustainable withdrawal rate on the retirement portfolio and then working backwards to figure out how much the retiree needs to save. Today we explore a more sustainable and predictable alternative known as the "Safe Savings Rate", as researched by Dr. Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at the American College, CFA, PhD in Economics from Princeton.

The traditional approach to planning retirement income looks like this:

Step 1: After accounting for all of the sources of retirement income a client has access to – including Social Security, Defined Benefit Plans, etc., - estimate how much in expenses a retiree will be responsible for.  Figure out how much of the client's current income must be replaced in order to cover their left over expenses. This figure is known as the “Replacement Rate” of the pre-retiree’s salary.

Step 2: Decide on a withdrawal rate that can be used to fill the income needed to be replaced based on what has worked historically and what you feel comfortable with.

Step 3: Determine the wealth accumulation that much be achieved by the client by the time of retirement.

Step 4: Figure out how much a client needs to save in order to reach that accumulation goal.

Perhaps a better way to plan for retirement income looks like:

Step 1: This step is the same as above.

Step 2: Determine a savings rate that can sufficiently fund a client’s desired income expenditures based on historical data and what you feel comfortable with.

This proposition comes from a study done by Wade Pfau and published in the Journal of Financial Planning in 2010 which recommended using a “Safe Savings Rate” rather than a “safe withdrawal rate”.

The History of Safe Withdrawal Rates

In 1995, Dr. William Bengen published in the Journal of Financial Planning the first research on sustainable withdrawal rates. Using 65 years worth of data between 1926 and 1991, Bengen concluded that even in the worst 30 year period for portfolio decumulation, someone could take 4% of withdrawals from their portfolio every year, adjusted for inflation, and never run out of money. This is known as “The 4% Rule”.

Ever since, economists and actuaries have strived find ways to safely increase the 4% withdrawal rate.

The Problems with using a Safe Withdrawal Rate Strategy

Accumulation and Decumulation Cannot be Separated

One of the issues with the methods of determining the maximum sustainable withdrawal rate based on Bengen’s research is that the accumulation and decumulation phases of someone’s lifetime are isolated. We need to be able to have a more comprehensive way to look at a client’s life cycle in terms of their financial planning. Perhaps if Bengen had more than 65 years of data, he would’ve been able to find a retirement income planning strategy that incorporated both the savings and spending phases of someone’s life.

Volatility in Withdrawal Rates

Another problem with finding the maximum sustainable withdrawal rate is the variance in how that might look for client retiring even one year apart. There can be a lot of volatility in withdrawal rates, depending on the state of the markets at the time the withdrawals begin.

For example, following a prolonged bull market, a sustainable withdrawal rate is going to be much lower than that following a prolonged bear market. While the “sustainable safe withdrawal rate” has historically been 4%, that number may actually range between 2 – 10%, depending on when you retire. There are serious consequences for either having too high of a withdrawal rate and running out of money or compromising necessities to meet a smaller withdrawal rate when you could’ve actually been using more.

Withdrawal Rates are Hyper Sensitive to Timing

Allow me to introduce the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradox:

Let’s say two people have 1,000,000 at beginning of 2008. Person A starts withdrawals in the beginning of the year. They can take 40,000 as a safe withdrawal rate following the 4% rule.

Both take a 40% hit by the end of 2008, so each of them has $600,000. Person B starts taking income at the end of that same year with 600,000 and they can only take $24k annual income using the 4% rule.

The safe withdrawal rate is extremely sensitive to the precise amount of a client’s portfolio at the time they decide to “flip the switch”.

It is Difficult to Meet a Wealth Accumulation Target

The numbers can get pretty big when you work backwards to find a wealth accumulation target you need to retire. Let's look at the Rule of 72 – if we assume 7% return every year on a portfolio, your porfolio will double every 10 years even if you don’t add any money. In a 40 year time period, your money should double four times. If the market is flat for the last 10 years before your retirement and you don’t see your portfolio double, you only have half of “The Number” you need.

More from Michael Kitces on the Problem of Relying on the Rule of 72

… Especially in the 5 Year Window Before Retirement

It is very difficult to predict even five years before retirement where you’re going to end up. The relationship between wealth accumulation 5 years before retirement and retirement is very weak. Regardless of whether you’re behind the target, on point, or ahead of schedule, there’s no saying where you'll be in relation to your wealth accumulation goal.

For example, those retiring in 1921 had a very similar wealth accumulation track to those people that retired in 2001 BUT their final accumulation amount was much different. The 1921 retiree accumulated less than 4 times the earnings while the 2001 accumulated more than 12 times their earnings and the difference all occurred in the final five years.

4% Rule is Outdated

Another issue on the 4% rule is that, although there are some indications that this number may be a low, there are many indications is that far too high. Bengen was only able to analyze a withdrawal rate that worked for retirees through early 1980’s. The clients retiring in the early 2000’s are particularly at risk. This may be the first age group where the 4% rule doesn’t work.

It is now 24 years since the publication of William Bengen’s safe withdrawal rate research. In 2018, we know that there is a better way.

A Superior Alternative: Safe Savings Rates

Allow me to introduce to you the “Safe Savings Rate” as described by Wade Pfau, , in an article in the Journal of Financial Planning in 2010 called “Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Life Cycle".

This study proves that someone saving at a “Safe Savings Rate” will be able to finance their intended retirement expenditures regardless of a specific nest egg amount or sustainable withdrawal rate.

How does it work?

When Wade Pfau was working to find "Safe Savings Rates", he tested the scenarios for someone:

- With a consistent 60/40 portfolio blend of equities/bonds

- Saving a fixed rate of their salary for 30 years

- Annually adjusting for inflation

- Looking to save for a 50% replacement rate of their pre retirement income

- Aiming to finance their intended retirement expenditures instead of building a portfolio that will work with a certain withdrawal rate

And found that a safe savings rate allows planners and clients to:

- Withdraw the amount needed to meet spending needs regardless of wealth at retirement age or the withdrawal rate

- Link together the saving and withdrawal phases using a more comprehensive approach

- Eliminate the volatility of withdrawal rates

- Minimize the sensitivity of a retirement portfolio to market conditions

- Stop questioning sustainable withdrawal rates

- Feel relief in not having to meet a specific target goal

- Resolve the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradox

- Effectively use a lower and truly more sustainable withdrawal rate in today’s economic environment

What do the numbers look like?

Based on a worst case scenario, the following Savings Rates in a 60 year life cycle using data through 1871 would have allowed a client to meet their retirement spending needs:

"Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Life Cycle" Wade Pfau, May 2011

"Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Life Cycle" Wade Pfau, May 2011

You may be thinking

Ok so this is great information, but its only applicable if you’re working with a young client who is just starting to save. The "Safe Savings Rate" can also be used for clients within 10 years of their retirement. For someone:

- Age 55

- Retiring at 65

- Looking to fund a retirement expenditure goal

- Using 50% replacement rate of their income

Worst case scenario is 52% "Safe Savings Rate" for the next 10 years. This is an extremely high and unrealistic savings rate, but is a good indicator for this client and their advisor that they should postpone their retirement.

For more data on what "Safe Savings Rates" work for people well into their careers, check our Wade Pfau's article in the Journal of Financial Planning called Getting On Track for a Sustainable Retirement: A Reality Check on Savings and Work. 

The conclusions from "Safe Saving's Rate" Research:

- There is not a rule of thumb with “Safe Savings Sates”, unlike the 4% rule, but we can create guidelines

- The length of the savings period matters much more than the length of the retirement period

- The longer you save for retirement, the better chance you’ll have at meeting your retirement expenditure goals

- In this approach, withdrawal rates and accumulation goals can be an afterthought

- Savings plans must be adhered to regardless of whether you’re “behind” or “ahead”

As always, please share this video blog with your social media accounts and other advisors you believe will find this beneficial. AS ALWAYS, have a beautiful and productive day. 

Not sure about this Wade Pfau guy? Check out his bio HERE. 

Want to check out Pfau's original study? Read his article in the Journal of Financial Planning called "Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Life Cycle"

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Click here to schedule a call with me. 


MY DIRECT LINE: (703) 297 4774




Protecting Your Practice From Litigation

The only thing more important than how you communicate with your clients is how you DOCUMENT those communications with your clients.

Some mistakes we can simply learn from and move on. When people realize they’ve overlooked any part of the essential record keeping processes, it’s often too late. If you get caught up with the wrong client, beneficiary, or attorney and your files are less than impeccable, your practice and livelihood could be at stake.

Here are the top four forms to keep in a client file to:

-          Show a regulator that you are acting in the client’s best interest

-          Remind a client (and their beneficiaries) that you and your clients are on the same page

-          Protect your practice


1)      84-24 PTE Disclosure Form

A proper disclosure of any conflicts of interests, incentives, and commissions on any transactions funded by qualified dollars is required, per the DOL Fiduciary Standards. Whether you are insurance-only licensed or in the securities world, be sure that you have access to some sort of 84-24 Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) Disclosure Form.

Take it a step further and do your homework on the forms provided to you to ensure that YOU are being protected in addition to your upline or the carrier providing the form.

These forms must be stored in your own file for the client – most carriers do not require them (or even want them) at this point. Whether it’s the 84-24 PTE Disclosure form or something else like it, we are going to have to get used to this next level of disclosure documentation, even on fixed products. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this disclosure requirement has gone away since the DOL has faded into the background. Effective today, here are our obligations when funding products with qualified funds:

I. Impartial Conduct Standards:

Requires agent to act in the client’s best interest:

o   Avoid materially misleading statements and receive no more than reasonable compensation.

o   Duty of Loyalty – do not be influenced by any factor including compensation that rises above the best interst of your client

o   Duty of Prudence -  requires you to provide the same prudence, care, skill, and diligence exercised by any prudent agent faced with similar circumstances

II.  Non-Disclosure Requirements:

Record keeping requirement that requires you to:

o   Retain disclosure and acknowledgement forms and any additional sales material or documents provided to your clients for a period of six years

III.  Disclosure Requirements:

Disclose the following information and retain record of this disclosure for six years:

o   Disclosure relationship to the insurance company as an independent agent

o   Sales commission

o   Description of chares, fees, discounts, penalties

o   Conflicts of interest

Contact me here to get the Kestler Financial Group 84-24 PTE Disclosure Form. This version of the form offers a greater level of protection for you than most carrier versions.


2)      Data Gathering Worksheets

We all know we should heavily focus on getting a comprehensive understanding of a client’s current situation and goals before making a recommendation.

And it would just be silly to go through the process of gathering any of the following information without retaining it properly:

-          Demographics

-          Relationships

-          Objectives

-          Statements of net worth

-          Balance sheets

-          Account statements

-          Risk tolerances

-          Beneficiary Designations

Being thorough in your fact finding and data gathering can also be directly tied to the DOL Rule. Just like we had to show our work on our math homework when we were growing up, we must show our work leading up to the recommendation of a product or investment.

Contact me here to get some of the tools our advisors use to gather information.


3)      Client File Note

Allow me to share with you some of the best advice you might ever get:

Every contact, or attempted contact, with a client or prospect must result in an updated record.

It’s not the Friendly Mrs. Jones who referred you to her bridge group that you need to be concerned about – its Mrs. Jones 10 years down the road when she starts to become a little forgetful. It’s her children, who were never involved in her finances until her health began to decline. It’s the plaintiffs’ attorneys who “remind” her of what you did or didn’t say.

Disputes often become a matter of “he said – she said” and the court will almost always take the side of the client.

Hopefully you never find yourself in a litigation situation. If you do, you’ll find yourself either trying to remember what was said OR referring to notes you’ve kept on client conversations. Even the simplest of notes written at the time of the transaction or conversation are worth much more than a recollection made by either party. So keep your files up to date.

Many top advisors use Client File Notes to protect themselves- have them at your desk, at home, in your briefcase and make it easy and a habit to pull one out and take a couple quick notes including:

-          Client Name

-          Time of conversation

-          Method of conversation

-          The reason for the contact

-          What was discussed

-          Any action items

If you’re a paper file type of guy, you can pop it in your client file. More of a digital filer? Scan and send it to yourself and save it on your computer/CRM. Either is fine.

Contact me here to get a sample Client File Note.


4)      A Keep Warm Letter

I strongly encourage providing your clients with a Keep Warm Letter when an application is submitted or a transaction is completed. A Keep Warm Letter is a written correspondence that should accomplish three goals:

-          Help to eliminate buyer’s remorse by showing professionalism and reviewing why they made the decision in the first place

-          Allow you the ability to summarize the benefits of their decision

-          Create a clear paper trail of disclosure

Remember to focus on the benefits instead of the features of whatever you are recommending. Specific product features change over time. Benefits can last a lifetime.

Be careful when using templated documents and communications. Since they can be used regularly, it can be easy to overlook small details or leaving things out when editing documents. Make sure all irrelevant information is removed and there are no errors. Double and triple check to make sure the “Warm Letter” you’re sending Sally doesn’t have any of Larry’s objectives on it.

Contact me here to get a sample Keep Warm Letter.


Bonus Tip:

Use a Customer Relations Management (CRM) System! There are a ton of great one’s out there. To access a list of the Top CRM’s, you can reference the following:

-          10 Best Financial Advisors CRMs

-          Investopedia Review of Best CRM Services

As always, please share this video blog with your social media accounts and other advisors you believe will find this beneficial. AS ALWAYS, have a beautiful and productive day. 


How do Top Financial Advisors Manage Stress?

People have gotten really comfortable since 2009. We’ve seen consistent growth in the markets with very minimal volatility. Its been a nothing-but-blue-skies bull market. How did it feel a couple weeks ago when we saw a slight correction in the market and volatility measuring indices surging over 20%? Were you fielding calls from your frightened clients? Feeling guilty for having some bad news and uncertainty about how long or far the correction will go? Worrying about the stability of your own career? What about YOUR portfolio?

Corrections are healthy for the markets but potentially not so much for financial advisors. And they are inevitable if you want to be an advisor for the long haul.

In 2008, a study was done examining the emotional wellbeing of financial advisors during the 2008 crisis. The study reported that:

-          93% of the advisors surveyed reported medium to high stress levels

-          39% reported stress levels compatible with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

-          25% of Wall Street Stockbrokers suffered from clinical depression.

-          That same year the study was taken, only 7% of all men in the US were diagnosed with depression

Potential stressors for Financial Advisors:

-          Wearing multiple “hats” – psychologist, social worker, seminar producer, marketing manager, confidante, time manager, fiduciary, research analyst, referral prospector

-          Dealing with second hand stress from clients

-          Having responsibility for client’s futures

-          Conflicting demands from managers and clients

-          Competition

-          Establishing a team

-          Maintaining professional development

-          Balancing work, family, recreation, and relaxation

Which can lead to:

-          Anxiety/Depression

-          Burnout

-          Poor physical health

-          Lower productivity

-          Lower sales

-          Lowered ability to prospect

How can you communicate effectively, be reassuring and confident, and be effective and productive with OTHERS if you are not being in control of and at peace with yourself?

Each of us has our own internal mechanism of realigning our body’s reaction to the physical and emotional stimuli and coping effectively. Sometimes the reactions to these stimuli – events, thoughts- are physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally negative.

The flip side of that is when we don’t have enough stress, we become complacent, bored, and we start to fall behind the bench marks and goals that we set for ourselves. Stress is a necessary part of our survival.

So how can we balance and be motivated by the things that stress us out as financial professionals? How can we prevent the negative “stressors” and find ways cope with “stressors” in ways that are inspiring and productive?

Below is a list of strategies for turning stress into a benefactor for you and your business:

Identify the stressors

Know what stresses you out so you can either prevent those situations or know how to handle them in a productive way.

Reframe the situation

Change your self talk! A broker dealer that makes it hard for you to do business isn’t going to ruin your life – it’s a great opportunity go out and find an awesome new firm! A correction in the market isn’t a death sentence – it’s a chance to show how credible you are and set a good example of patience and confidence. There is always a bright side.

Make your days as turnkey as possible

When you have an “if this, than that” system in place, it will eliminate the need to make decisions as the day wears on. The idea is to minimize surprises, tasks sneaking up on you, and engaging in unproductive activities.

o   Creating a calendar

-  Ex. If it’s a Monday, that’s when I call to confirm the appointment’s I’ve set for the week.

-   Ex. If it’s a Friday, that’s when I send out my handwritten notes/thank you cards for the week.

o   Schedule your entire week down to the minute ahead of time

-  Know your money making activities and how you’ll be spending your time

o   Creating policies

-  Ex. I will not allow my assistant to pass “x” type of call along to me when I’m in “x” type of meeting.

-  Ex. I will not work past “x” time on “x” day

-  Ex. I schedule my meetings for 55 minutes instead of 60

o   Automate as much as you can based on work flow templates and sequences

Make time throughout the day to unwind a bit

Imagine trying to run a marathon without stopping to drink some water. Or going on a 8 hour hike without taking a second to eat some trail mix. Or working 10 hours straight including five back to back client meetings without taking a break. You gotta give your mind and body a little peace, quiet, and TLC. Whether it’s a 20 minute walk or five minutes or deep breathing – it will make a difference

Do something that makes someone else feel less stressed

There was a study published by Clinical Psychology Science that showed that people who lended a helping hand to someone in need reported feeling happier throughout the day than those who did not. Additionally, on the days when the participants in the study did not help others, they reported stronger and negative emotional reactions to stress. 

Research also shows that acts of caregiving release oxytocian, a feel good chemical that results in calm and postive emotions.  

Consider creating and advisor support group in your community

Why, might you ask, am I always emphasizing the importance of networking and collaboration? BECAUSE IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. Learn best practices from other professionals, use other successful advisors as a sounding board, and gain referral partners.


When you exercise:

o   Your brain releases endorphins, which will relieves pain symptoms and makes you feel euphoric

o   Your brain focuses on whats happening to your body and your activity rather than any work or personal stress

o   You will have higher levels on confidence and overall improved mood throughout the day


By simply taking a couple minutes to write down your thoughts, you can gain clarity in your thought processes, patterns, and triggers. Journaling will help you better understand your experiences, feelings, and self.

Do fun things that have nothing to do with work

Take some YOU time! Hang out with your friends! Go to that concert or basketball game! You deserve it. And you’ll thank yourself for it.

Read this book!

I met Dr. Jack Singer at a conference a couple years ago after his seminar on stress mastery. He is a practicing psychologist and professional speaker who specializes in Clinical, Sport, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. We stayed in touch for a bit after the conference and he sent me a copy of his book, The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide, which I highly recommend.

In fact, this book was one of the major inspirations for this blog.

And of course, I’d be remisced if I forgot to mention one of my obvious solutions – have something in your back pocket (OTHER THAN BONDS) to provide some downside protection to your clients portfolio.

If you’d be interested in learning about a strategy many of our top reps are using that returned over 4% in 2008 with no fees, schedule a call with me by CLICKING HERE.

Have a beautiful and stress free day! Look forward to talking to you soon!

Money face small.jpg

Do your clients want to retire from retirement?

Most retirees go into retirement expecting to fill their days with travelling, taking up new hobbies, and spending time with their significant others. However, you can only spend SO much time playing golf, playing cards, and taking naps.

Many retirees are surprised to find themselves dealing with several unexpected consequences when they suddenly have nothing but nothing to do. Some of the common experiences include:

-          Realizing that they have grown apart from their spouse over their working years

-          Having too much time on their hands and not sure what to do with it

-          Not having as much money as they thought

-          Developing a lost sense of identity due to leaving the work force

-          Being unsure of how to manage their finances moving forward

Obviously as a retirement planner and financial advisor, you make money by collecting assets and building financial plans. But, there are several small things we can incorporate into our conversations to:

-          Improve the quality of life for your retiree clients

-          Improve their financial situation in retirement

-          Build your business

1. Add a therapist to your network of referral partners

This concept is very simple. People will seek therapy in similar circumstances that they will approach financial planners - when they have a significant life event or are going through a time of uncertainty. Find a good counselor that you trust and do your clients a favor by suggesting they speak to someone about some of the emotional aspects of transitioning into retirement. That therapist will greatly appreciate it, and if it’s a good one, will likely return the favor and send some referrals your way.

2. Consider adding a divorce attorney to your network

As if retirement isn’t disruptive enough, many retirees divorce their spouse when they get out of the workforce and realize that they’ve been growing apart from the person they’ve been married to throughout their careers. According to a Pew Research Report, the divorce rate among U.S. adults ages 50 and older have doubled since the 1990’s. Retiree or not, a newly divorced individual needs to have financial plan in place that fits the provisions of the separation and their new lifestyle. A divorce attorney is well aware of the need of a financial advisor in the divorce process and can also be an excellent referral partner.

3. Encourage your clients to find a new purpose

Many people find their identity within their career and feel as though they’ve lost their purpose when they move into retirement. The work place is one of the primary places where people get human interaction, physical activity, and social stimulation. The void can leave people feeling bored, restless, and dissatisfied which will lead to mental and physical deterioration.

Community organizations, philanthropic initiatives, and religious communities are all places where your clients can find meaning, feel productive, and set new goals that keep them engaged and inspired.

4. Provide your clients with resources to find employment and stay employable

Additional streams of income, even if its part time, will take the pressure off of “having enough” money in retirement, and may allow clients to:

- defer social security benefits

- defer defined benefit plan payments

- make additional contributions to defined contribution plans

- potentially lower health care costs based on health insurance eligibility through an employer.

Some of the obstacles retirees face when trying to find full or part time work later in life include:

o   Not having up to date skills

o   Losing touch with their professional networks

o   Staying culturally up to date regarding fitting in at a workplace environment

It is important that your clients think about staying employable and research potential job opportunities post-retirement BEFORE they become unemployed.

Some resources to help your older clients find full or part time work:

-          Retirement Jobs (www.retirementjobs.com)

-          Your Encore (www.yourencore.com)

-          Encore Careers (www.encore.org)

-          The Transition Network (www.thetransitionnetwork.org)

-          The AARP website has a national employer team listing companies and information about job opportunities at the companies for older workers

5.  Create opportunities for your clients to try new things and meet new people

Can you say – Client Appreciation Events? The Advisor Coach nails it in a 2017 article when he says “Here’s the truth: If you don’t appreciate your clients, someone else will.” Client appreciation events are a way to increase client loyalty, happiness, and engagement. As an advisor hosting client events, you can increase your refer-ability, show your shining personality outside of the office, and build a sense of community and awareness for your business. You can read the article referenced above HERE to read tips on how to host a successful event:

The main point here, however, is helping your clients stay active and socially stimulated. Per The Advisor Coach, here are some ideas for client events that will do just that:

-          Host a cooking class

-          Wine tasting

-          Sporting events

-          Ice cream socials

-          Art classes

-          Document shredding parties

-          Holiday events

6. Stay on top of your clients finances and reevaluate their distribution strategy regularly

Taking the initiative to manage your clients’ plans on an going basis will also make the transition into retirement easier on your clients, even if it doesn’t make you as much money as when you initially brought the plans into management at the beginning of the relationship. It’s called being a fiduciary and doing your job. :)


My email: kshea@kestlerfinancial.com

My direct Line: (703) 297 4774




Citations and sources:




"HS353 Retirement Income Process, Strategies, and Solutions" by David Littell through the American College of Financial Services (2017)

“HS354 Source of Retirement Income”by David Littell through the American College of Financial Services (2018)

Are you paying as much attention to Financial Elder Abuse as you should be?

Regulators and the media are paying a lot of attention to Financial Elder Abuse recently – are you? What are you doing to protect your clients and your practice?

Schedule a call by clicking here.

What is Financial Elder Abuse?

“The fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.” – The Older Americans Act of 2006

What are the facts?

-          1 in 10 seniors are victims of neglect, abuse

-          Annual loss due to financial abuse is 2.6 billion

-          ONLY 1 in 44 cases of financial elder abuse is reported

-          90% of abusers are trusted family members or friends

-          60% of family perpetrators are adult children

-          The typical victim is a woman aged 70 - 89

-          Abused seniors are 3 times more likely to die and elder abuse victims are four times more likely to go into a nursing home

What are your legal obligations and rights as an advisor?

FINRA just passed a new rule - Rule 2165 Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults. It requires brokers to:

-          Permits advisors to place temporary holds on disbursements of funds or securities from the accounts of specified customers where there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation

-          Provides brokers with liability protection if they place a hold on disbursements from an account because they think their clients could be harmed

FINRA just amended Rule 4512, Customer Account Information Rule. It requires brokers to:

-          Requires brokers to make a reasonable effort to identify a trusted person who can be contacted if the broker is concerned that the client is suffering from diminished mental capacity or is the target of a scam

-          The request for a trusted contact must be made at account openings for new clients and during account updates with existing clients.

-          If the client declines to provide a trusted contact, the broker does not have to keep pushing

For more information about FINRA Rules 2165 and 4512, FAQ’S are answered HERE:

You may also live in one of the 13 states that have passed a version of the North American Securities Administrators Association’s model rule that:

-          mandates that advisors report suspected abuse to certain state authorities

-          allows advisors to stop disbursements from seniors' accounts

-          gives advisors protection from liability

NASAA’s president, Joseph Borg, stated earlier this year that roughly ten more states are expected to follow suit, depending what happens with a bill that’s currently passing through Congress called “The Senior Safe Act”, which has similar parameters.

For more information about other legislative efforts against Elder abuse, click HERE.

How can you help?

Educate your clients:

Give clients examples of common Financial Elder Abuse situations from trusted family members:

-          Money or property is used without the senior's permission or taken from them, for example removal from their home and then use of the home by the abuser, or depositing income such as pension or benefit checks

-          The senior's signature is forged, or identity is misappropriated for financial transactions

-          The senior is coerced or influenced to sign over deeds or wills, or caused to execute legal documents they do not understand

-          The abuser fraudulently obtains a power of attorney or guardianship

-          Money is borrowed from the senior and never repaid

Give clients examples of scams, fraud, misleading marketing by legitimate businesses:

-          fraudulent investment or insurance schemes

-          fraudulent contracts and unauthorized charges imposed by internet service providers

-          worthless "sweepstakes" that elderly persons must pay in order to collect winnings

-          fake pharmaceutical or diet/health products

-          medical billing scams and unnecessary medical care

-          predatory or unnecessary lending, for example reverse mortgages

-          charitable giving scams, including pressure to rewrite wills

-          identity theft

-          lottery scams

-          work from home schemes or other ways to generate income

Other examples can be found here: www.napsa-now.org/policy-advocacy/exploitation/

Ask questions:

-          Start the process with the simple question, “Who do you trust?”

-          Know that this a question they may not have been asked by a financial advisor or have an immediate answer to

-          Find out their contact information and set up open communication lines between you and that trusted individual incase you need to contact them

-          Asking who they can trust can be a part of a larger and deeper conversation with the client about family, financial goals and obligations, and the “what if’s” of a financial plan

Advise them to:

-          Stay organized – keep track of important documents and possessions

-          Open and send their own mail

-          Complete and sign their own checks

-          Screen calls and let them go to voicemail if they don’t recognize the number

-          Consult with their financial advisor and lawyers before making major changes to wills and titling of assets

-          Make sure that wills, advanced directives, and powers of attorneys are executed so that trusted individuals will step in and make decisions as necessary

-          Feel empowered, in control, and use their voice to contact authorities if they feel something is off

Keep an eye on things:

-          Help the client set up a plan for when they are unable to manage their own financial affairs using trusts and powers of attorneys

-          Pay attention to changes that may indicate signs of elder abuse

-          Stay appraised in current elder abuse trends and how to avoid them

-          Report cases of abuse

A list of indicators can be found here: http://canhr.org/factsheets/abuse_fs/PDFs/FS_FinanElderAbuse.pdf

Know how to contact the proper authorities:

-          Local law enforcement

-          Senior’s financial instituion

-          Adult Protective Services in each state

-          FINRA’s toll-free help line:

o   844-574-3577 (or 844-57-HELPS)

Last but not least, this WILL boost your business in several different ways: 

- Create a referral network and partnership with attorneys, lawyers, estate planners to get trusts, powers of attorney, and wills in place

- Become more referrable by your clients as someone who is doing something other advisors likely AREN'T doing for them

- It will be easier to work with clients who have their finances in order and are set up for financial, mental, physical wellbeing in the future

If you have any questions or want to discuss this topic in further detail, schedule a call with me by CLICKING HERE. 

To access the new Ibbotson white paper on a better bond alternative, click HERE. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE.

Visit the Kestler Finanancial Group website HERE. 

Citations and other resources:

National Center on Elder Abuse: https://ncea.acl.gov/






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: kshea@kestlerfinancial.com
My Direct Line: (703) 297 4774

REMEMBER: If WE CAN VERIFY that you shared this article with 10 other independent investment advisors or agents, I will send THE FIRST THREE PEOPLE TO SHARE a $50 gift card to a place of YOUR CHOOSING!

Connect with me on LinkedIn HERE 

Check out our website HERE

Read other blogs by me HERE

Here is a link to the ERBI 2013 Study and the complete findings: https://www.ebri.org/pdf/briefspdf/EBRI_IB_09-20061.pdf

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 kshea@kestlerfinancial.com

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. :)