Financial Planning: With one hand

Financial Planning- With one hand

As most of you know, my wife and I welcomed our first child into our family recently and to say that little Charles has changed my perspective on things in life would be an understatement. In just a few short weeks this guy has started to enlighten me in many ways. One such way is highlighted in the title of this week’s blog. Since my son was born, I don’t want to put him down. It’s weird, but I feel like my wife carried him for 9 months and now it’s my turn. This new posture has forced me to do many daily activities, you guessed it, one handed. Take writing this blog for instance. I’m on my phone in my Word app typing with my thumb. This is terribly inefficient but it’sSaturday so I’m going to let it slide. If I had a picture of myself in the chair, holding my son, and working on this bit, I believe many parents would relate, if not to this exact scene at least to the feeling it embodies. Trust me when I say, I have zero advice to give on how to be a parent and work a successful career; I’ll write that in 18-24 years. Instead, what I’d like share with you are some thoughts about what this picture really means.

Responsibility: Responsibility comes in many forms, but by definition, responsibility is having a duty to deal with something or someone. Think about it this way, if someone is responsible for a project then we are trusting they will complete said project according to their instructions. If we say that someone IS responsible, then we are recognizing that they generally act, react, or manage themselves in a way deemed appropriate. Basically, we are saying that responsibility is an exercise in prioritization, i.e. my reputation is worth more than the consequences of acting in a certain way. Just because I now have more responsibility at home and one less arm does not mean I can be less responsible to my clients. It means that I have to get better at prioritizing and more careful in the responsibilities I take on.

Desire vs. Require: Sticking with the image of my holding my son, let’s be honest. He is asleep, like zombie sleep. I just dropped a leather bound Bible on a hardwood floor and he didn’t even flinch. The point is that there is no requirement that says I have to hold him. I could put him down in his swing and he would be none the wiser. I am holding him because I desire to. I think that many of us fall into this category with certain responsibilities. We want to go the extra mile and we certainly don’t want to say no to anyone. We are overly accommodating perfectionists, but we are missing something. Every decision made has a trade-off. Going the extra mile in one area may prevent going the extra mile in another area. For more on this topic, read any of the thousands of books on work life balance. As your responsibilities increase you will need to get better at weighing the trade-offs.

L.E.P: Love, Energy, and Passion:  As I have gone back to work after Charles was born, I have re-evaluated everything we have discussed in these terms. What/who do I love the most? I have a finite amount of energy daily so how do I distribute that? How do the answers of the previous two questions overlap and pull me away from my passion? My passion in this life is to see people reach their true potential and win with money. No, not get rich, although I think that is a side effect of winning with money, but instead have a healthy understanding of the impact they can have on the world with money and talents. My passion now includes my son, but answering those questions has made it very clear that I need to become more efficient and eliminate some distractions in my life. If I want to have the impact I desire and be able to hold my son every morning, I will have to trade something else for that and I’m pretty sure I am going to have to learn to say “no”.

By this point, my thumb is numb, but I hope it was worth it. We have to be careful that as our responsibilities increase we do not use them as excuses. It would be very easy for me to change my expectations for myself now that I have more responsibility but what example would that set for Charles? “Oh son, as life gets harder just lower your standards so you don’t feel bad about yourself”. NOT!!! Focus, prioritize, evaluate, then get moving.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

It’s Not About the Money

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Okay, well, it’s not JUST about the money.  I think one of the biggest misconceptions about offering a 401(k) plan is that it is a money thing. Clear your ears out and listen to me here, your 401(k) is worth way more than money to you and to your employees. As an employee and employer, you have to stop limiting your view of the 401(k) plan and start considering its true impact.

As a firm, one of our beliefs is that to truly succeed with money, you have to understand that it is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. A 401(k) plan is simply a tool in the toolboxes of your employees and those tools are there to help them feel fulfilled and make memories. When we analyze people who we think are ready for retirement, we often talk in terms of money like, “I have X in saving and I need to take out Y per month so I am 100% funded for retirement.” What that equation really means is that in order to make memories, it will cost a certain amount which must be in savings to make retirement work. The 401(k) is a memory making tool for your workforce. If you can show employees that your intention in offering this benefit is not only to allow on-time retirement, but also to validate their need for security and ability to make memories, it will start to change your company’s culture.

One of our biggest concerns when working with new plans is when we see the leadership of the company approach the 401(k) as a necessary evil. “I know we have to have it but it’s costly and a liability”. Okay, thank you for that synopsis, Mrs. Glasshalfempty. Yes, it is all of those things, but it is so much more than that, too. The 401(k) is a platform for you to offer education to your employees on financial topics such as budgeting and debt reduction.

Nothing “big brotherish” about it. Employers have expressed to us that they fear they are going to overreach their place in their employees’ lives by offering financial education beyond the 401(k) Plan.  In our experience, this is not true. Think about it, your employees spend the better part of their non-sleeping life at work. For the mass population, personal finance isn’t the topic of discussion around the dinner table or on date night, so expecting employees to find time to educate themselves is expecting a lot. However, if you give them the opportunity to discover that knowledge at work, doors open to whole new world! We have lots of data that shows that financially stressed employees have a lag in production and are generally less engaged at work than those who are not. By offering the 401(k) plan complete with a customized financial education and resources to help them learn, your employees start to get the sense that you care. It becomes apparent that you have offered the 401(k) plan because you truly want it to affect their outcomes and not just be a checked box.

Bottom line is this, the 401(k) is a tool and if used correctly, it can build a culture and relationships of value and trust. For the employee, it can offer resources needed to truly get their financial life in order and for the employer, it can create a workforce of financially stable, loyal employees who feel valued and engaged. If you have more questions about the success we have seen with properly run plans, feel free to reach out.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

Don’t Call Me That!

Don’t Call Me That!

Hello Reader. Today’s content is for you readers who check my blog on a regular basis.

Okay, now on a serious note, how silly did it sound for me to call you, “readers”? We run into this same problem in the 401(k) world with the term Participant. In almost every piece of literature I see that comes from plan providers or from the Department of Labor, I see employees referred to as Participants. I know, I know, that is a safe term that easily defines their status but it’s disingenuous and generic, especially to most of the employers with whom we work. We have seen employers say something like this, “That’s not a participant, that’s Bob. Bob’s been with us for 22 years; I watched Bob’s kids grow up. Can you please stop referring to Bob as “Participant”?

You may not think that the terminology you use or that is used by your plan provider or your plan’s financial advisor can affect the impact of that plan, but it most certainly can. It may also tell you the motivation behind those companies that you have hired. They call them participants because they don’t know Bob and in some cases, especially with your plan provider, that’s okay. In most situations, however, I would encourage you to forge relationships with people who care as much about your employees as you do. Remember why you have the plan in the first place and make sure the people you work with always respect those reasons.

For more on this topic I would encourage you to check out my partner Jamie Kertis’s blog from this week, it’s a great read.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

What do you mean you don’t want the job?

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Most of the time this question is asked in reverse, but for today, let’s assume that you are in charge of the hiring at your company. So you are either an owner, manager, or HR pro and you are all too familiar with the stacks of seemingly identical resumes that appear when you open up a key position. Perhaps you even enlisted the services of a recruiter to be sure that you find your perfect fit. Then…it happens.

You crumble up the resume in your hand to read the next and there it is (imagine a soft light shining down and angel singing in the background). This is your perfect fit with all the skills and experience you could ever ask for. The candidate only asks for a reasonable salary, and you don’t know if it’s delirium or not, but the resume paper smells of lavender and babies. You ask for an interview and put the person through the ringer with the happy result of measuring up on all accounts.  You discuss the hire with your team and you all agree to move forward. With eager excitement, you call with the good news and then you get hit with the rejection 2×4.  “Thank you so much for the offer, but I have decided to go a different direction.”

It does not take many of these to totally kill your morale and it usually is followed by a form of corporate grieving. Not like you lost a loved one but you certainly internalize the rejection a bit.  Step 1: Defense. “What a punk, what a waste of our time and who would not want to take this job?” Step 2: Denial. “Well, this clearly wasn’t the right candidate, would have been bad for us, and obviously didn’t see how awesome we are.” Then Step 3: Settling. “Just call the other guy we interviewed and hire him. I’m sure he will be a quick learn.”

Unfortunately, we very seldom sit down and ask ourselves, “what did we miss?” or “what does the “other direction” have that we don’t have?” In a sales position, we always encourage people to have a process. This does 2 things, 1) it makes things replicable and 2) if something goes wrong, we can analyze the when/where and fix it before the next time. Hiring people should be no different. Your hiring process should replicable and when you lose a good hiring prospect instead of internalizing it, you should stop and analyze what happened. Start by asking these 3 questions:

1)      Was it something I said? Okay, not really, but the first analysis should be of the company and the process. Did we miss a step in showing our company culture? Did we truly convey the vision and mission that we have? Did the task we needed to be complete actually fit into the candidate’s long term goals?

If you answered all the questions and still do not understand what went wrong move to questions 2.

2)      What do they have that we don’t? Where did the recruit go instead of our company? This shouldn’t be too hard to figure out as obviously you are connected with potential hires on LinkedIn by now. Once you know where the prospect went, you can start to analyze those questions.  What did the other company offer that we didn’t? What box did they check for this candidate that we didn’t offer to check? Uncovering these facts will help you alter your process or the offering before you hire again.

3)      What do we need to change? Let me be clear here, the answer to number 3 in most situations will be NOTHING. Sometimes the only way to know why a person made a certain decision is to drug him/her with truth serum and ask. If, in answering questions 1 and 2, you discover something that you can control, then you must take action! Do not settle with not always landing the best talent.

This goes back to my blog on how your people are your second most valuable asset.  Once you have your bus built, it is imperative that you get the right people on that bus.

I think it goes without say that we are biased on what sets companies apart (employee development, company culture and vision, and benefits) to top tier talent, but ultimately each person will be different. Control what you can control, change what needs to be changed and remember, if you want to go somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go somewhere far, build the right team.

Caleb BagwellCaleb Bagwell/Employee Education Specialist
John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach
Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial
Toll-Free: 866.695.5162 / Office: 205.970.9088 
1950 Stonegate Drive / Suite 275 / Birmingham, AL 35242

Contact Caleb

Follow Caleb on LinkedIn

Follow Caleb’s Blog

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.