Asa part of my series about the “5 Things Retirees Say They Wish They Were Told Before They Began Retirement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Skinner. Ryan is founder and owner of Summit Financial Partners, a firm offering a range of services including retirement planning, life insurance and long-term disability, as well as author of Taking Stock: Protect Your Wealth and Create Reliable Income for a Happy and Secure Retirement. Ryan is living proof that survival from a dark, downward spiral is possible: once an addict in his mid-twenties, he was given a second chance at life, and he took full advantage. Today this passionate businessman speaks about recovery in high school drug awareness initiatives, has guest lectured at The Heroin Education Awareness Task Force Program and hosts an addiction recovery group.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Myjourney to the finance industry started before I even graduated high school. In elementary school I could not read well because I had dyslexia. Back then they didn’t know it was a learning disability, so my reading got made fun of by other students in school, causing me to act out. When my parents put me in private school, I started to realize that I was gifted with numbers and began to enjoy school more. I had one teacher that was reading a lot of personal finance books, trying to save up money for her retirement, that decided to try to teach some students about what she was learning. When she wrote to the author of one of the books she was reading, he took an interest in our class and what we were learning. I was even featured in a magazine write-up called “The Wiz Kids of Wall Street.” That is how my experience with money and numbers began, and it continued to grow as I got older and met more people. In high school the vice principal was a retired stockbroker and I had him mentor me. Whenever I looked to the next step there was always someone there for me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In my mid-twenties I battled addiction but once I got into recovery, I changed from being very money-driven and materialistic to being more spiritual. I went from only running my company like a business to focusing on client service and spending time with my clients. An interesting story that really encompasses the switch is that one day I was driving down the highway listening to this book that my sponsor gave me. I remember the book said to make God your business partner and right as I heard that I looked up at the street sign and it said Summit Avenue. That’s how Summit Financial Partners got its name.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I made many mistakes when I was starting out but one that I really look back and laugh about was when I used to go out to client’s houses. One day it was pouring rain and I drove two hours to get to this house. I walk up to the porch, ring the bell and they’re not answering. I can see them looking out the window so I call them up and say, “I can see you looking at me while I’m getting soaked in the pouring rain.” Clearly, did not work out for me at the time but I learned a lot about client relations and how to conduct myself professionally. An important lesson was that if people are really interested in your services and you want them to take you seriously, they’ll come to you.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have had a lot of help along the way but no one has made a bigger impact on my life than my mother and my sponsor. Growing up we never had much money and my mom would always tell me “the greatest gift I’m giving you is God.” Years later, after I went down a dark path with drug and alcohol addiction, my sponsor was helping me to get sober and he told that that the only way I was going to make it was with God. Both of those people taught me how to bring spirituality into my life and into my business. In my opinion, spirituality means being of service to people, doing the right thing and having faith that the universe will take care of the results. There is no chance I would be where I am today without my mom and sponsor teaching me that and supporting me through everything.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
My best piece of advice is to foster a connection to something greater than yourself. If you are not spiritual, get outside in nature and just think. I meditate every morning and it is extremely beneficial for my mindset. A hobby, not a super competitive one, but a hobby that gets you connected to a cause or other people can work wonders. Personally, I run a program at a prison where I go volunteer every week to work with inmates at rebuilding their lives. When you’re doing something that is good for yourself and for other people, the Universe will reward you so you can thrive in all areas of your life.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
You are there to lead and provide for your clients, but outside of that you need to put your family first. In my experience if I am choosing work over my family too often, my family suffers. As a result, I then suffer as a leader. The best advice I can give is to make sure you are not too consumed by work and there is a solid balance with your personal life. I tell my employees the same thing because if we are all taking care of ourselves and our families, then we are able to bring the best version of ourselves into the office.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact nearly every aspect of one’s life. Obviously everyone’s experience is different. But in your experience, what are the 5 most common things that people wish someone told them before they retired?
- A dollar today does not buy what it used to — inflation is very real and people approaching retirement need to keep that in mind when planning for the future.
- Big gains in retirement savings do not help you as much as the losses hurt.
- Time can be your friend or your enemy — if you are protecting your nest egg throughout your career, you can go into retirement comfortably and confidently. However, if it is not secure and the market crashes it is possible not to have time to recover.
- Have a purpose going into retirement — whether you are volunteering, babysitting your grandkids, or enjoying your free time, make sure you have a plan and some goals.
- Make sure you use a retirement specialist when planning– this needs to be someone who focuses only on retirement and knows what your goals look like.
Lets zoom in on this a bit. If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important financial issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
The three most important financial issues to keep in mind can all be wrapped up into three questions to ask yourself as you approach retirement:
- Do you have enough money to retire and sustain the lifestyle you want to live?
- Are you keeping that money in the right places?
- Not all forms of income are the same — will the money be coming in the most efficient manner?
Another important factor to note is that there are two phases of life in regard to retirement. — accumulation and distribution. If a client spends the accumulation phase well and saves a significant amount of money, they do not want to run the risk of the market dropping as soon as they need to live on that money. They may not have the time they need to recover. People getting ready to retire should ensure that the money they will be taking income from is solid, not going to fluctuate and that they can take it in the most tax-efficient way possible.
If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important health issues to keep in mind before they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
I think the most important health factor to keep in mind is structure. Whether this means having scheduled appointments and activities throughout the week, or even just a general routine for the day, having structure is so important to maintaining some feeling of productivity in your retirement. Another important issue is both what and when you are eating. It can be easy for retirees to graze throughout the day instead of having three scheduled meals. This often results in not eating enough, as you are not working up an appetite, or eating too much due to boredom. Putting an emphasis on nutritious meals at certain times during the day can keep you healthy while also contributing to your structured routine. Lastly is exercise. Retirees do not need to be working out everyday or anything extreme, but making an effort to move your body, even if it is just walking for 15 minutes, can be beneficial for both mental and physical health.
If you had to advise your loved ones about the 3 most important things to consider before choosing a place to live after they retire, what would you say? Can you give an example or share a story?
While many people associate retirees with warm weather, people should keep in mind the type of environment that they personally enjoy and would want to spend time outside in. If you ski, go where you can do that. If not, head somewhere on the water or split time between a few locations. With that in mind, realize that you do not have to own two homes to spend your retirement in two different places. Using rentals or AIRBNB is not only financially beneficial, but eliminates the upkeep of multiple locations. However, no matter what weather or location a retiree desires, an important factor to keep in mind is to live somewhere you are not paying too much in taxes. Now that the school system is generally not a consideration, high taxes are definitely something to avoid.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Something I am truly passionate about is working to rehabilitate people who have faced issues like homelessness, addiction, and incarceration. Through my own life experiences, I have learned that society often forgets those who are most in need. Something I try to live by is that people are people and each of us needs all of us. I do things like host an addiction recovery group and run a program to rebuild inmate’s lives because when these people get out of jail they are heading right back to our own community. I believe that this movement could bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people because it invests in other’s lives. If we help each other out, it will be paid forward in the community.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
There have been two books that have made a huge impact on my life. The first one is “Feel The Fear…and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. It talks about how to better your mindset and how even when your worst fear comes true, the outcome is never as bad as you expect it to be. After reading this book, I became fascinated by my mindset and what I could do to influence it. Now I meditate, write down my goals and visualize their completion. While this book had a significant impact on my personal life, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Peale is what changed me professionally. I use this in the way I run my business and how I serve as a leader.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I have always loved the quote “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” by Gandhi. It is written on all the cards that I send to clients and I try to live by that message every single day. When I am feeling my best and doing well both personally and professionally, it is because I am involved with other people’s lives and helping them to do better in some way.
Originally posted on Authority Magazine / Medium: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/ryan-skinner-of-summit-financial-partners-5-things-retirees-say-they-wish-they-were-told-before-adc012cefc8