Occupation: Financial adviser, Robins Financial Credit Union
Q: How long have you been at Robins Financial Credit Union?
A: Eighteen years. I know the way from where I live in Macon to here real well by now. I’ve been in financial services for 21 years and here at Robins investment and retirement services for 18.
Q: You liken your role in some ways — especially in terms of retirement — to that of a medical doctor. How so?
A: Well, we deal with a person’s financial health and are interested in that financial health now and in the future. I use terminology doctors use, like we evaluate where people are financially, diagnose problems and carefully prescribe solutions.
Q: People can be shy talking about assets and suspicious of people wanting to get into their finances or sell them financial products — the term snake-oil salesman comes to mind. What about people taking care of their own financial health?
A: No one has to use these services but we’re here to help. In Warner Robins and Houston County and all of Middle Georgia there are a lot of good advisers in private offices and banks and CPA firms so there are a lot of good options. But again similar to your doctor, it comes down to who you feel comfortable with and can have trust in. You need to consider track record, how long have they been at it. And maybe you need to get a second opinion, shop around.
Q: And you can take care of things yourself, right?
A: Some people can go to webmd.com and not to a doctor and maybe things will work out. But we’re here to help. Like a good doctor we wouldn’t prescribe a new medicine without knowing all the facts about it and about the person, their background and needs.
Q: In Middle Georgia, with Robins Air Force Base and related industry around, and with baby boomers having come of age retirement-wise, is that a huge part of your work? Aren’t retirees increasing dramatically?
A: We look at retirement a lot, yes, and more and more.
Q: What’s the No. 1 question people ask?
A: You’d be surprised, but the main thing people ask when they sit down is, “What’s the market going to do this year?” And I can’t really tell them. Even people on TV who say they can, really can’t. They may say something but then when they’re wrong that’s just more to talk about. If I had a crystal ball that good, then I’d be set. What we do is ask good questions, fill out a form to evaluate and start diagnosing and making decisions about what to prescribe. We do it with all the expertise and experience we have. I like to say I’ve been at this a long time, made all the mistakes and now I usually don’t. The second most asked question is, “What are my options?” That’s where we take all the information and it becomes a matter of planning together with people’s goals in mind.
Q: Are people you talk to generally poorly or well prepared?
A: I have to say that due to the area we’re in and the pension systems and savings plans available most people are in pretty good shape, with a few exceptions. There may be some fine tuning and debt to address, but overall most are doing pretty good. The landscape is definitely changing, though. Things aren’t what they used to be changing all the time.
Q: Can you elaborate?
A: What I’m seeing is the trend to downsize not just in private industry but among military and civilian workers as well. Add the greater number reaching retirement age. Then add the trend that companies are ending or changing pension plans and where it used to be someone would have a company pension plan and retire with, that’s not so now. Now, companies are getting rid pf pension plans or changing them so the responsibility is more on the individual to make sure they have a good retirement savings, a 401(k). It makes planning important. I’m not saying dealing with it all is as dangerous as some people do, but you need good information and education for all aspects of retirement.
Q: Like what?
A: Like coming in for a visit or coming to one of our seminars. We’re have one coming up.
Q: What is it? When?
A: It’s called Three Transitions to Retirement. It’s Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Jack G. Byrd Jr. Learning Center behind our Watson Boulevard location. There’s one in Macon on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. on Zebulon Road. They’re a no-cost, no-obligation opportunity to hear mostly how to deal with three areas: the financial, lifestyle and emotional transitions into retirement. That and some practical information. It’s a way to come in and sort of kick the tires and see what’s what with no obligations and get some general questions answered. Of course, we do offer services, but we’re here to benefit our members.
Q: Explain that idea?
A: Robins Financial Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative committed to our members. We’ve long held the principle, “Not for Profit, Not for Charity, But for Service,” and the idea that we’re “People Helping People.” Education is one of our greatest tools. Then people can make decisions.
Q: How do people find out more? Do they need to register?
A: People can register online at www.robinsfcu.org or find out more by calling Teri Minter at 478-923-3773, ext. 2921.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.