Frequently Asked Questions

Who can benefit from The Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program?
Can you help me if I’m not ready to retire yet, but I want to plan for retirement in 5 to 10 years?
If I have not been referred by one of your Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program members, will you accept me as a new member?
Do new members need to have a certain amount of money to join?
Why do your Relaxing Retirement Members choose to work with you and your program?
What do you actually do for your members?
Can we participate in The Retirement Coach Investment Endurance Program without having a Retirement Blueprint designed first?
If you design our Retirement Blueprint, do we have to participate in The Retirement Coach Investment Endurance Program?
How are you compensated?
Do you provide any guarantees?
Who will I meet with?
How often will you meet with me?
What if something happens to Jack?
Will my information be kept confidential?
Will you work with our accountant and/or estate planning attorney?
Will you work with me if I live outside of Massachusetts?
What’s the first step?

Who can benefit from The Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program?

Over the last 28 years, it has become crystal clear who benefits the most from our program, and who we can best serve.

The biggest commonality among those who can most benefit is you don’t have a large fixed monthly pension that will cover all of your spending needs in retirement.

Instead, like so many people today, your income in retirement will have to be generated from what you’ve accumulated in your 401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, and personal investments, etc. Because of this, you now have the daunting task of figuring out:

  1. Do we have enough? (since there is no guaranteed monthly pension covering everything for you), and
  2. How do we make it happen? How do we position our Retirement Bucket™ to generate the lifestyle sustaining income stream we need without running out of money in the future?

This is the common denominator among those who can most benefit from The Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program.

Knowing that, there are two moments which typically trigger individuals seeking our help:

  1. You’ve had an event occur in your life which has prompted you to give serious thought to retiring in the next 12 months. That could be:
    • Receiving an early retirement offer from your employer, or
    • An illness that you’re dealing with or that you’re witnessing a friend or family member experience, or
    • Simply reaching the age of 62 and realizing that you can now collect social security and a pension

    In each of those situations what you’re looking to determine is if you can afford to retire, and how to do it. (Even if you’re not sure you want to retire just yet)

  2. The other situation which may prompts you to come to us occurs after you’ve retired. You’re getting by, but you’re just not confident spending money.
    • Your cash flow is not what you want it to be, or
    • You’re paying more in taxes than you believe you should have to pay, or
    • You’re scared about your money lasting the rest of your life, especially in light of ever volatile markets, and
    • You just want to know from a completely independent and objective expert what you can do

 

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Can you help me if I’m not ready to retire yet, but I want to plan for retirement in 5 to 10 years?

From a skill set point of view, the answer is yes. However, our program was carefully designed to provide the ‘missing structure’ for those who want to determine if they’ve accumulated enough to retire in the next year or so, and then how to do it.

Since we only accept a very limited number of new members each year, we want to keep our specialized focus on helping those who are seeking answers to those critical questions.

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If I have not been referred by one of your Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program members, will you accept me as a new member?

We are very fortunate to have Relaxing Retirement members who graciously introduce and refer so many of their friends and family members to us.

In order to preserve and maintain the intimate and specialized advice we provide, and meet with our members individually as often as I do, we now ONLY accept qualified new members who have been referred by an existing Relaxing Retirement member.

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Do new members need to have a certain amount of money to join?

Given the very nature of who our program is for (as I outlined above), those who get the most out of our program have already done a very good job of saving and accumulating over the years.

To participate in The Retirement Blueprint Management Program, new members must have a minimum of $1.2 million in total investment assets.

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Why do your Relaxing Retirement Members choose to work with you and your program?

The best way to answer this great question is with a brief story: For 17 years of my life, I wore glasses. Every year, I went to a local optometrist, had an examination, and had my prescription updated if necessary.

When I chose what optometrist to go to each year, I was not very selective. I really didn’t give it much thought.

17 years ago, I heard about corrective laser eye surgery which would eliminate my need for glasses and contact lenses. I was fascinated to say the least! After carefully researching it, I decided to do it.

However, when I sought out the doctor to perform the surgery, I didn’t go to the local optometrist. Why? Because the stakes were way too high!

One of my biggest fears in life is losing my eyesight! So, instead of going to a local optometrist, I sought out the doctor who had performed over three thousand successful procedures. I even had the opportunity to watch him perform one of them live!

This is the reason our members choose to work with us in The Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program

When you’re younger and working, making a costly mistake with your money is important, but probably not catastrophic because you have time on your side to earn more money and make up for the mistake.

But, when you’ve reached the point in your life where you need to rely on the money you’ve saved to support you for the rest of your life, the downside risk of a “generalist” making a mistake with your money is huge! You may end up having to make drastic cuts in your spending and reduce the lifestyle you’ve worked your whole life to enjoy. Or, you may have to go back to work to make up the difference, which your health may prohibit you from doing in the future.

So, just like I chose the “specialist” to perform my laser eye surgery instead of a local optometrist (a generalist), our Members choose to work with us in The Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program because coaching retirees is our only area of focus. They can’t afford to run out of money at this critical point in their lives because of unnecessary mistakes made by a “generalist” financial planner.

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What do you actually do for your Members?

Think about the task of building a house from the ground up. You can’t begin the process by discussing what type of kitchen countertop you want, or what color carpeting you want in your master bedroom.

You have to take a big step back first and carefully think and prioritize where you’d like the house to be, what kind of layout you want, where will you spend most of your time, how many bedrooms you need, how much closet and storage space you need, etc.

And, of course, how much money you are willing to spend on your house.

In short, you have to design a blueprint first.

The same is true for your finances at this unique stage in your life. Before you can contemplate how to strategically position your investments, you must determine your answer to two very important questions:

  • What real long term investment rate of return do you need to earn on your Retirement Bucket in order to remain full for the remainder of your life while generating the lifestyle sustaining income you need each year?

Can you get the job done earning 1.25% less than inflation or do you need to earn 2.35% more than inflation? Do you need to hit home runs with your investments, or can you get by with hitting a bunch of singles?

Without your calculated answer to these questions, you can’t begin to make rational, long term investment decisions because you have no clearly defined investment goal with which to make an evaluation.

However, in order to arrive at an accurate answer to that first question, you must calculate and know your answer to another question:

  • What is your level of Retirement Bucket Dependence? In other words, over and above income you may receive from social security, pensions, and rental property, how dependent are you each year on your Retirement Bucket?    

If you don’t know the answer to this question, it is impossible to determine the real long term investment rate of return you need to earn on your Retirement Bucket™.

And, you will have unnecessary anxiety and you will “pull your punches” by restricting your spending for the rest of your life because you don’t know if you have enough built up in your Retirement Bucket™.  Or, you will continue to work because you think you “have” to, when in fact you may not “have” to.

To do this correctly, we firmly believe that it is critical to first take a step back and carefully design a comprehensive Retirement Blueprint prior to making any investment decisions. To that end, in order to participate in The Retirement Blueprint Management Program, all Relaxing Retirement members are required to first participate in The Retirement Blueprint Development Program.

Two of the critical benefits of creating a custom-tailored Retirement Blueprint, which takes into account all of your priorities and resources, are:

  1. Carefully calculating the timeline of when funds will be needed for income needs, and how much will be needed. And,
  2. Carefully calculating the real long-term investment rate of return you need to earn in order to have your assets keep pace with inflation and remain intact as you withdraw funds for income needs in your retirement years.

Phase One:
The Retirement Blueprint Development Program

In The Retirement Blueprint Development Program, we use a seven step process to meticulously create your custom designed Retirement Blueprint. Utilizing all of the relevant personal information you’ve provided in The Retirement Confidence Preparation System, your Retirement Blueprintanswers questions like:

  • How much can we afford to spend without running out of money?
  • What rate of return do our investments need to earn in order to keep pace with inflation?
  • Specifically how do we position and allocate our investments to earn the rate of return we need while reducing volatility and income taxes?
  • Where will our income come from?
  • Which accounts should we draw from first?
  • How can we reduce or eliminate our income taxes?
  • Can we afford to buy a vacation home down South or out West to avoid these harsh New England winters?
  • What is the most cost effective way to protect ourselves and manage all of the risks we face, like a long term illness, property loss, or a lawsuit?
  • What steps should I take to make sure that my spouse will be OK if I’m not here?
  • How can we make sure that everything we’ve worked so hard for all of our lives goes to who we want with the massive delays and cost of probate fees and estate taxes?

Once created, your Retirement Blueprint becomes the foundation for all current and future financial decisions so that you’re not just randomly making impulsive decisions.

You will receive a step-by-step Action Plan at the end with a list of specific recommendations for you to implement in order to reach all of your goals that you’ve prioritized during our meetings.

Phase Two:
The Retirement Blueprint
Management Program

Given the enormity of what is at stake, one of the challenges many individuals face during their “Retirement Stage” of life is having the interest, the time, the experience, the expertise, and, most importantly, the discipline to manage your own investments, while remaining confident that you’re not making a costly mistake or missing out on profitable opportunities.

Once your Retirement Blueprint has been developed and reviewed with you, our members enter The Retirement Blueprint Management Program in order to implement each item in your Action Plan and custom-designed Retirement Bucket Strategy, track progress, and adhere to a disciplined strategy in the face of volatile and ever-changing markets.

The Relaxing Retirement Coach is a completely independent registered investment advisory firm (with no ties to any investment company) who adheres to the Fiduciary Standard.  We use diversified, cost effective investments for our members with disciplined strategies designed to capture market returns within their respective investment asset class.

Several times a year, during pre-scheduled, one-on-one Retirement Coaching Meetings (either at our office or on the telephone), your goals and priorities are revisited, performance (in relation to those goals) is objectively evaluated, and adjustments are made, if necessary.

During these meetings, we review your allocation and progress with an “easy to read” consolidated summary of your Retirement Bucket™ holdings.

In addition to receiving recommendations to maintain disciplined diversification in spite of volatile and ever-changing markets, you are always provided with a perspective on market and economic activity and how it impacts your Retirement Bucket Strategy™.

This provides a “no sales – pressure free” environment for each of our Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program Members so you can go about doing what you want to do without being “pre-occupied” that you’re “missing something” that you should be doing. You know that we will be meeting again soon to review a complete snapshot of where you were, where you are now, and what changes are needed (if any).

This helps you maintain your confidence by insuring that you remain on the right track despite any changes which otherwise may have taken you off course.

In short, The Retirement Bucket Management Program provides you with a continuous support system for the rest of your life.

 

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Can we participate in The Retirement Coach Investment Endurance Program without having a Retirement Blueprint designed first?

No. We will not make any recommendations until we’ve carefully designed your Retirement Blueprint first. Making investments without designing a plan first is like having surgery without a physical exam.

My 28 years of experience has proven to me that making any financial decisions prior to designing a plan first is dangerous and costly.

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If you design our Retirement Blueprint, do we have to participate in The Retirement Blueprint Management Program?

No. Once your Retirement Blueprint has been created, if you qualify, you may participate in The Retirement Blueprint Management Program, but there is no requirement to do so.

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How are you compensated?

We are a completely independent, fee-only advisory firm who adheres to The Fiduciary Standard.

As such, Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program members do not pay, and we do not receive, commissions for buying and/or selling investments.

 

PHASE ONE: The Retirement Blueprint Development Program:
To custom design your Retirement Blueprint, we are paid a fixed flat dollar fee which covers the preparation of your Retirement Blueprint and all meetings involved.

 

PHASE TWO: The Retirement Blueprint Management Program:

For members who qualify to participate in The Retirement Blueprint Management Program, we are paid an advisory fee which is calculated based on a fixed percentage of your investment assets under management.

In addition to all of the value and benefits outlined in a prior answer above, your fee also provides for a completely updated Retirement Blueprint each year. Prior to acceptance, your specific fee rate is calculated and agreed upon with you in writing.

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Do you provide any guarantees?

While we can’t guarantee that you’ll earn a certain rate of return on your investments, we do guarantee your experience.

We provide all Relaxing Retirement Members with The Retirement Coach Guarantee during their first 12 months of working with us. If, for any reason, you do not feel that our relationship is working or that you are not getting your money’s worth, all you have to do is let us know. We’ll provide an immediate and prompt refund of any and all fees paid to date.

This motivates us to only accept Members who are serious about their financial future, who want to establish a long-term relationship with us, and whom we feel there is a fit.

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Who will I meet with?

All of your meetings will take place one-on-one with Jack Phelps , The Retirement Coach. Because of the way we have structured our business for the future, if you are an accepted Relaxing Retirement Member, you will never be “passed on” to a “junior advisor”.

Assistance with many facets of your planning will be performed by members of our superior staff. However, all recommendations will be made by Jack Phelps , The Retirement Coach.

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How often will you meet with me?

Depending on your situation and preference, you will have 3 or 4 pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings each year. And, because many of our Relaxing Retirement Members are retired and spend time down South or out West during the winter, some of these meetings take place on the phone, if necessary. All information for the meeting is sent to you directly prior to your meeting. However, we will meet with you as often and as necessary as your circumstances dictate.

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What if something happens to Jack?

There are certain subjects in life that are difficult to broach.

A question that I’ve been asked on occasion by existing and new members is, “Jack, what happens if something happens to you?”

It’s a very good question that I have a very good answer for.

In each situation in which it was asked, what prompted the question was the fact that The Relaxing Retirement Coach, Inc. is clearly not a giant, national financial institution with multiple advisors like Merrill Lynch, UBS, Ameriprise, or Fidelity, etc. (Thank goodness!)

The perception with those large institutions is that if something happened to the advisor with whom you’re working, or if the advisor left the business, another advisor is completely informed about your unique situation and your plans, and is ready and available to take care of you. In essence, there’s a perceived comfort in “bigger”.

If this thought has ever crossed your mind, you’re certainly not alone. I felt that way at one point in my career as well.

When I graduated from Holy Cross College, I chose to go to work for a very large institution, Prudential, primarily because they were a large and recognizable name to me. After all, they sponsored the NBA Game of the Week on television every weekend so they must have been good!

I had offers from much smaller firms, but without understanding the real differences between them and the large financial behemoths, I chose to work for the larger institution thinking that there was more “security” there.

The Possibility

In order to put this in perspective, and before we weigh and contrast your alternatives if something happened to me, let’s take a moment to discuss the possibility and/or likelihood of this becoming an issue in the first place.There are two possible scenarios:

Possibility #1: I go to work for another financial firm, or I leave the industry altogether.

If you’ve ever worked with an advisor employed by one of the large institutions out there, then it’s likely you’re aware that the survival rate for financial advisors within the industry is very low. And, for those who do, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll remain with the same firm for their entire career.In stark contrast to being an employee without a true vested stake, I created and own The Relaxing Retirement Coach. I’ve built it precisely the way I believe is best for my Relaxing Retirement members, for my team members, and for me.

And, in case you haven’t met and been around me yet, I love every facet of this business from working intimately with each of our Relaxing Retirement members, to running the business itself.

It’s interesting to note that I’m in the business of helping our members confidently retire, yet I have no plans to ever “retire” myself. And, that’s because my definition of retirement is doing what you what, when you want, where you want, with whomever you choose. In short, I’m already doing that!

Because of this, the chances of me moving on to “greener pastures” (as the overwhelming majority of advisors do who work for large institutions) are as close to zero as I can imagine.

Possibility #2: I’m no longer here (Is there a nicer way to state this!)

While anything is possible, let’s weigh the odds. I am 50 years old. (And, I know that you’re not!)

Since the average Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program member joins us at 64 years of age, that gives me a 14 year head start!

Given this, and the fact that I’m in very good health and go to great lengths each day to keep it that way, the odds are quite good that I’ll be around longer than you.

However, with that said, the rare possibility of an accident does exist, so let’s examine and contrast what happens if I’m no longer here.

The Parties Involved: Part I

In order to do that, it’s important to clarify and define the parties involved in our relationship. Let’s begin with the parties involved if you worked with an advisor employed by a large national institution:

  1. You
  2. Your Advisor
  3. Large National Financial Institution

Your advisor is employed by the large national institution, and your accounts are likely held in custody by the same company.The question I suggest you ask yourself is who is your relationship with?

Is it with the large national institution, or is it with your personal advisor?

The large national institution (i.e. Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, etc.) acts as the account custodian for your funds, and they have a vested interest in keeping your money held at their firm since that’s where they make their revenue.

They don’t personally know you, your goals, your aspirations, your fears, your dreams, your family, etc. You’re essentially a number to them, a revenue stream.

Your advisor, on the other hand, (hopefully) knows all of that as he or she is the one who you’ve shared your experiences with in order to advise you.

If your advisor moves to another firm, leaves the industry altogether, or passes away, what would the large national company do?

They would assign another advisor to you.

At that point, you would have a choice on your hands: develop a relationship with the advisor they assign to you or go out and develop a relationship with another advisor of your choice.

In either case, you’re in a position of having to establish a relationship with a new advisor.

If your funds were held in custody by that company, you may also have to move your accounts over to another account custodian like Charles Schwab.

The Parties Involved: Part II

Now, let’s contrast that scenario by first examining the parties involved in our relationship:

  1. You
  2. Me (Your Coach)
  3. The Relaxing Retirement Coach, Inc. (RRC)
  4. Charles Schwab

In our relationship, Charles Schwab simply acts as the custodian of your accounts, i.e. they effect the transactions we instruct them to do and they report all account activity to you through statements and their website. That’s their only role in our relationship and they could continue in that role if I’m no longer here.We have a very carefully thought out Business Continuity Plan whereby The Relaxing Retirement Coach, Inc. would remain fully operational for a minimum of one year.

Our team, whom you’ve come to know so well, would remain on board to help you carry out all of the plans we’ve already made, and assist you with any transactions or Retirement Blueprint updates.

Given the fact that we’re such an attractive business in our industry, over the course of that year, it’s extremely likely that another advisory firm would purchase RRC and continue our Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program as it has been crafted and run all these years. At that point, you’d have two options:

a) You could establish a relationship with the advisor who purchases RRC, who would likely also partner with Charles Schwab allowing you to keep your accounts there. However, you have no contractual obligation to do so. Or,

 

b) You could establish a relationship with another advisor of another firm.

The bottom line is that in either situation, you would be establishing a relationship with another advisor just as you would if you worked with an advisor employed by a large institution.The difference with The Relaxing Retirement Coach is that you have an established relationship with Lisa, Julie, and Terre and they are here to make your transition as seamless as possible.

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Will my information be kept confidential? Click here to see it.

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Will you work with our accountant and/or estate planning attorney?

Absolutely. We view your planning as a team approach. In addition to the many professionals who we work with and can recommend to you, we welcome the opportunity and strongly recommend that we speak with your accountant, estate planning attorney, and insurance agent directly to assist in the seamless handling of your needs.

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Will you work with me if I live outside of Massachusetts?

The majority of our Relaxing Retirement Members live in Massachusetts. However, some have now moved to various parts of the country and our relationship has continued. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

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What’s the first step?

There are several ways to get started.

If you are curious and you would like to take advantage of The Retirement Strategy Assessment: you can either email Terre at Terre@TheRetirementCoach.com or call her directly at 781-235-7550. She will be happy to find a convenient time for you.

If you’d like to begin receiving my Retirement Coach “Strategy of the Week”, click here.

We look forward to meeting and helping you.

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