Bill Keen is the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors and has more than twenty-five years’ experience helping people plan their retirement.
When we think about retirement, most of us think about what our lives are going to look like after we stop getting a regular paycheck. Yes, we do need to think about investment and financial planning, which Bill walks readers through in his book, but there’s more to it than that.
We also need to think about the emotional and psychological aspects of retirement. For example, what is your day-to-day life going to look like? Have you really stopped and thought about what being fulfilled in retirement looks like to you? Bill helps readers walk through all of these questions in his new book, Keen on Retirement: Engineering the Second Half of Your Life.
Bill gives us some insight into what successfully planning for a retirement you love looks like.
Nikki Van Noy: Bill, you have described your career on Wall Street as the first half of the movie Wall Street combined with the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Bill Keen: The thing that I relate to, Nikki, in this is that Bud Fox went to Wall Street and he tried to make his way with no family money, no influence, no resources–he had a dream and a vision to go out beyond the suburbs that he grew up in and to try to make it. That was something that I related to because I’m from Kansas City, Missouri and I grew up with not a lot of influence, no family money, no resources, and no contacts, but I knew that I wanted to be able to understand finances and to be responsible.
I wanted to be able to go out and stake my claim. One, so I could take care of my parents in their later years and two, so that I would never have to experience some of the anxiety that I saw in them.
Now, The Pursuit of Happyness is an interesting one as well, because it speaks and it talks of a gentleman that really had nothing, trying to get started. And in The Pursuit of Happyness, the gentleman in that movie worked at the same firm that I worked at–Dean Witter.
A lot of the things that I saw him doing were things that I had gone through myself in that very same firm. He was able to stake his claim and make it in the industry. When someone asks me about myself starting out, I say it’s a cross between the first half of Wall Street and The Pursuit of Happyness.
Nikki Van Noy: Were you always able to be pragmatic in terms of getting yourself set financially and planning for the future?
Bill Keen: I remember sitting on my father’s couch in a very small apartment, waiting for his unemployment checks to hit the mailbox. That was back when they actually did hit the mailbox, and not get direct deposited. For whatever reason, at that age, I internalized the anxiety. It was a tough time back then in the 70s and he had a difficult time with work. We didn’t know necessarily where the resources were going to come from wee- to-week and month-to-month.
For whatever reason, I was a young person who experienced anxiety right along with my father. I attribute a lot of the focus and determination and intentionality about where I went with my life and career on that. But I can tell you at the time, it created a lot of stress and anxiety in myself. I wouldn’t trade it today looking back, but it caused me to want to seek out being able to understand how the economy works, how finance works, and how to be responsible.
This probably wasn’t healthy for someone of my age, but also to be able to provide for my family, for my father, for my mother, and for others–I was not pursuing some wealth dream but pursuing just peace of mind for them. Peace of mind and the ability to be not be riddled with anxiety around finances.
Great Aunt Nina
Nikki Van Noy: Bill, on a personal level, was all of that education and attention and intentionality able to combat the anxiety for you?
Bill Keen: Well, you know, I had a vision and I had a mission, and that that helped, but no. It was very confusing and somewhat chaotic as I was growing up as a young guy, looking toward the future, but it wasn’t until I got out of the house and got working on my finance degree in college that I could start to see things crystalizing. I could start to really see how things played out and how things worked in the economy.
I also had a great-aunt who was born in 1901. She has passed, but she lived to be a hundred and she died in 2001. As a young person, she coached and counseled me on Wall Street. In fact, there’s a candy store called Russell Stover Candies. She was friends with Russell Stover. She held a high position at a well-known department store here in Kansas City called Emery, Bird, Thayer. She was a woman of means, and she was kind of ahead of her time. She coached and counseled me on what investing was like.
All this collectively brought me into opening my first brokerage account when I was sixteen, and still in high school. Then working toward college and beyond with a mission and a thought about what I wanted my life to look like. I was still very young and inexperienced, not knowing how it was going to play out, but I did have a mission. I was very grateful, and am even today when we meet with clients and their children and grandchildren.
For me to know what I wanted to do at such a young age, I look at that as quite a blessing. Of course, I have five kids as well. It’s nice for me to watch them try to figure out and find their way in life.
Nikki Van Noy: I’m intrigued by this idea of your aunt as an influencer because, based on her age, she must have been a young adult at the time of the depression. Did her experiences with the depression inform how you’ve come to think about money and saving and planning for the future?
Bill Keen: It’s interesting because she didn’t focus on those times. Now see, I was born in 1968. By the time she was coaching and counseling me, and mentoring me, we were into the early 70s. We were forty years beyond the Great Depression years. Imagine being born in 1901 and not even having the automobile and then see a man go to the moon and what we had when she passed in 2001.
It was a fascinating one hundred years of advancement in our country and in the world that she was able to see, but she didn’t focus on the depression age and scarcity. Scarcity was not something she focused on. She handled investments, she owned stocks, she also owned bonds and CDs. Some folks we see from those generations, or even generations nearer to us than that, are very fearful.
She wasn’t like that. She was someone who went out, staked her claim, and worked her whole life in a very productive position. In the book, there’s a picture of her meeting with two other executives. There also is her business card from an iconic department store here in the greater Kansas City area that any of our readers will see, or listeners from Kansas City would remember.
It helped me that she had a more abundant mentality as opposed to a scarcity mentality.
Nikki Van Noy: It is incredibly powerful to me that someone who actually lived through the depression was able to come out with this sense of abundance.
Bill Keen: Yes, well, I think that she got to see how the story ended. She got to see that even the Great Depression was a temporary situation. She had the resources to make it through the Great Depression. She wasn’t overly leveraged, she didn’t have debt, and she wasn’t buying stocks on margin.
Before and during the Great Depression, you could put about 5% down and borrow 95% to buy stocks. Then we come to find out, the FCC wasn’t even invented until the early 30s, after the depth of the decline in 1929.
People that weren’t even being looked at were buying stocks on basically borrowed money because there was no regulatory environment. Many of the stocks were fraudulent, but for people who owned good quality investments that were not over-leveraged, they made it through those times and the economy, and the markets recovered and prospered.
I believe that because of her journey and because of her history and hard work and diligence and living within her means, that she had that perspective that helped her not live in complete scarcity and fear at the time that I got to spend with her.
Gosh, remember, in the 70s, she was already seventy years old, but I got to spend twenty-five or so really quality years with her and learned a ton. In fact, again, I mentioned her in the book, I also have a whole podcast episode on Keenonretirement.com–Keen on Retirement on iTunes and Spotify, and all the other platforms where I talk specifically about great-aunt Nina.
From Wall Street to Retirement Planning
Nikki Van Noy: Tell me how you made that leap from Wall Street to helping people with retirement planning?
Bill Keen: Yeah, I got out of college and I worked for a company in Kansas City founded by James Stowers called Twentieth Century. Twentieth Century was a mutual fund company and I was able to get my foot in the door. It’s a wonderful company that is still around today. His family now has gone on to endow the Stowers Institute for Research and they have literally donated billions and continued to donate billions of dollars to cancer research and other disease prevention research.
I spent a year there, and at that time at this particular company, it was a no-load mutual fund company, which means we could accept orders from clients, but we couldn’t give advice. I realized early in the journey that I would see clients calling in and doing things that were not in their best interest. They were selling investments at the bottom of the markets, they were wanting to buy in at the high on hype, and I was seeing that happen, even at that age.
I needed to be in the part of this industry where I counseled clients. I left that company and cold walked into brokerage firms. That’s when I was hired at Dean Witter about a year out of college. It was interesting because here I am this young kid from Kansas City. Once you pass a couple of exams, they were going to ship me off to New York and I would be working in the south tower of the World Trade Center on the 83rdfloor.
I was somewhat of a fish out of water, but I was enjoying it and taking it all in. I was there just a month after a terrorist drove a truck into the parking garage of the World Trade Center and detonated a bomb. You might recall that in 1993.
I was there off and on for approximately a year and it was an interesting time to be out there. I stayed right across the street, in a high-rise condominium, looking out my window at Madison Square Garden on 31stand 7thavenue in New York.
I got into retirement planning. To expand on that, it was really more of the old traditional stock brokerage firm that was, unfortunately, one of the only things available for your general investor.
We had mutual funds and a myriad of different investments there, but there wasn’t any financial planning, for folks when we looked at retirement–what will the tax ramifications be, what will health insurance look like, do I have the will, do I have a trust, what happens to me if I pass away? Will my kids, my spouse be taken care of–my grandkids, and charities? All that type of holistic financial planning was not on the table back then.
It was only focused on investments. That is something that has played out much differently in the last decade or two as our industry changed. This all was what attracted me to found Keen Wealth Advisors as a registered investment advisor and to create discipline in the process and the holistic planning process that we have in place at our firm today.
Nikki Van Noy: What things do you want clients to be thinking about outside of investment as they begin to plan for retirement?
Bill Keen: Well, I think that it goes way beyond the numbers. So many people look at retirement and investing, and taxes, and different aspects to their financial planning as just numbers–the numbers are very important. The numbers have got to be right. Things have got to be accounted for, precisely and accurately and planned for. Of course, they do. But it goes way beyond the numbers when you’re really looking at someone’s plan. This is something that I’ve learned and evolved in my career. I’ve now been on a professional journey for almost twenty-eight years and I’ve also lived life up until age fifty, almost fifty-one now.
You start to realize that time has become a priceless commodity for myself and also for many of the clients that I talk to. I think about age fifty is a break over point for a lot of people, when they start realizing–not to be morbid–you start thinking, wow, I only have, if I live to a normal life expectancy, maybe I have thirty-five more summers, thirty-five more Christmases, thirty-five more birthdays.
Again, not to be morbid, but we all have an end date. As you get older, you start to realize that now time is the priceless commodity. That’s not to say we don’t take care of our affairs and our business, of course, we do. But we have to start looking at how we want to spend that priceless time, and how we want to maximize it for ourselves and for our families and the people that we love, and the legacy that we want to leave. However, that looks different for each person.
When to Retire?
Bill Keen: From a financial standpoint, when is the best time to retire?
Nikki Van Noy: I believe it’s 70.
Bill Keen: Okay, this is a great answer that you have. Let me tell you, the most common answers that I received when I ask that question and I will admit, it’s a trick question. I get sixty-two because that is when you can start receiving Social Security. Of course, it would be a reduced amount from your full retirement, but you can start receiving it.
Others say sixty-five because that’s when you can receive Medicare, which helps big time when you’re retired with your medical care and insurance. Some say fifty-nine and a half, so pulling it back a little here, because that’s when you can access your retirement accounts without a penalty. You can get to your retirement accounts without a penalty before fifty-nine and a half, but it’s a little cumbersome.
I also hear age seventy because that is the latest you should start taking Social Security because it doesn’t go up any further after seventy. Also, at least under current law, seventy and a half is when you have to start taking money out of your IRAs. All of those are legitimate answers.
But occasionally, someone will say, from a purely financial standpoint, the best time to retire is never. Believe it or not, that’s the correct answer. From a financial standpoint, you could always work another year, you could always save more money, there’s always a reason to justify putting off retirement, and have another year of saving and investing, and another year of not spending.
I don’t want to encourage anyone to retire before it’s prudent, but I believe that when you have the resources to retire, you should consider doing so. There’s a lot more to life than saving and investing until your dying day. I’ve seen this, I’ve witnessed this, I’ve been in over 15,000 client meetings in my career. I get to see the themes that come out, I get to see the dangers, the opportunities, the strengths, and the emotion. There’s a crossover point financially, mentally, and emotionally when you know it’s time to leave the saving phase in the working time of your life, and to start spending some of your resources and enjoying your time, working on your health, eating well, exercising, and spending time with your loved ones.
I’ve seen it many times and it’s really fun to watch people walk through that process, get up to that point, make one of the biggest decisions they’ll ever make in their life, and enter the next phase of life by retiring.
It Is About More Than Just the Money
Nikki Van Noy: Since selecting retirement age has to do, not just with financial elements, but also mental and emotional elements, how do you help people project ahead of time when that correct point to aim for will be?
Bill Keen: At a minimum, we recommend that folks sit down at least ten years prior to a potential retirement date. So many of us in America, even if we are employed and we work for companies that we’re saving money in 401(k)s in retirement accounts, and we’re living within our means and we’re doing the things that we should be doing to be prudent and to plan for the future, so many of us are on autopilot.
Again, I see age fifty as this kind of wakeup call where people start to say, “Wait a second, I can imagine being at a point in time in life where I don’t have to work anymore.” For the people that we work with that I work with, there are people that started with nothing. They’re like me, they’ve lived within their means, they worked hard, they were intentional, they were disciplined, and they delayed some gratification over time.
It’s sometimes hard for those folks to even imagine that there could be a day that they do not have to go to work anymore because they’ve saved enough, and they’ve invested enough that their assets will support their lifestyle until the end of their lives. I recommend strongly for anyone that’s on this path if you’re fifty or over, you should be doing the things that we talk about in the book. You should also be sitting down with someone, in my opinion. If you want to try to do this on your own, you can, but it’s sometimes very difficult to hold yourself accountable. It’s also very difficult to see the blind spots that you might be missing in your own plan.
I’m biased in this. I believe that someone should find a fiduciary advisor or advisory team that has a very disciplined process and a specialization in retirement, that’s going to help them see around corners they otherwise couldn’t see around and that could be ten years out or more.
That comes to money, and taxes, Social Security, Medicare, all those things, but it also comes with thinking about what you are going to retire to, not what you’re retiring from. So many get that confused. We’re just going to retire from.
We have one main question that we pose, and we’ll have both spouses present as much as possible because we want to make sure that they are on the same page with this. What will life look like and what will we retire to in retirement? I can expand on some of the things that people retire to, but the preparation and the thinking and the emotion is just as important as the preparation for the monetary assets and the details.
Nikki Van Noy: Why is the psychology and emotion of this so important?
Bill Keen: What’s your minimum investment to work with someone? Because a lot of these firms have a million-dollar minimum or multimillion-dollar minimums, and I say my minimum is that someone needs to be grateful and humble on most days. What that means is basically a nice person, and just being committed to being responsible for their retirement, their planning, and their wealth building. That’s the minimum.
It is not a monetary minimum, because I am staffed in such a way that we can help anybody that comes to us with those attributes. Think about working with engineers–engineers fall into that category. They are naturally planners. They are typically folks that have worked hard, lived within their means, and they’re planning oriented. They are process-driven. They love measurement. They have sold their brains over the course of their careers to others who needed to hire them because that is where they specialize.
So, they understand that they need help outside their field of expertise. So, while all my colleagues around the industry think we are crazy for working with engineers because they are so detail-oriented and demanding, I disagree. We love working with the engineering community. To tie that in with your question, you would think engineers are some of the smartest people on the planet. Without them, many of our technological advancements–power plants or water systems–none of it would be here.
Engineers actually need help with retirement planning and investing. How could you possibly get an engineer to talk about his or her emotions? The reality is, it is every bit as important for them to sit down and get conscious of the fact that they have never been retired before. So, we do not know how we are going to react to things like spending every moment with our spouse.
There is a funny little cartoon that we had made that says, “I said for in sickness and in health until death do we part, but not for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” I see this a lot when people who have been very successful financially, but now both spouses are on top of one another, figuratively, all day long. They have to figure out a rhythm for what are they going to be doing in their life with their time so that they are not driving each other crazy.
They love each other, they have been married forty years let’s say, life is good, but they have to come up with a daily rhythm for how they’re going to do things and discuss it ahead of time. What will our days look like? Are we going to babysit the grandkids? If we commit to babysitting the grandkids on Mondays and Tuesdays, are we going to allow that to evolve babysitting the grandkids all day, every day for the next three years?
These are things that we have to talk about upfront, because one might think, “Yes!” and the other might think, “My goodness no, we retired so that we can travel and pursue our interests.” Because it is not about the money at this point. We are talking about life now.
Visualize Your Retirement
Nikki Van Noy: It sounds like what you’re asking people to do is really visualize their day-to-day life in retirement.
Bill Keen: Without question, and I would say that a competent quality financial advisory team should be asking these questions of their clients. We are in a very unique situation in that folks come in and they’re laying out their financial lives to us.
We should be very guarded about our finances. We shouldn’t talk about things–it is not a comparison. We should keep these things very private, but to get help, folks have to come in and lay out their information to us. We are asking things about their family trees. We are asking things about where they lived growing up. We are asking, “Did you have resources, did you not? Was it stressful?” Much like my story. We’re you the oldest, the youngest, the middle? Were you one of twelve or the only child?
Well, why does this matter? Well, these things do matter, because I need to know, and my team has been trained to need to know how someone got to the point where they are sitting across the table from us. What has gone into creating their view of the world and how they interact with their family, their money, their situation, and their health. We need to see if they have kids that are going to be relying upon them, or maybe grandkids. Do they have parents that are going to need to be supported by them?
I see many in the sandwich generation today. I am frankly one of them, where they are supporting parents and children at a certain point in time. Do you think that doesn’t go into the retirement planning numbers? Of course, it does. These are things that we need to understand upfront. So, if a financial adviser is doing their job, in my opinion, correctly, they are not just talking about money.
They are getting very personal with the people they are sitting across the table from. The advisor needs to understand that to folks sitting across the table at this very moment, this conversation is everything to them. This is their entire life. For us to be able to advise somebody how to invest their money, and how to tax plan, and how to do estate planning, and wills, and trust, and timing, we have to know what got them to where they are today and how they’re wired.
If we can do that, it sets the stage. If they are married, now we’ve got both people at the table. We start hearing both stories and then we can roll into what their vision is of retirement is and what it is going to cost. It is a natural question. We need to know what you want to do because we need to figure out what it’s going to cost you so we can plan accordingly.
It sets the stage for real personal conversations that I don’t think many financial advisers are actually having. I don’t think they are going that deep. I think it is super important and it is very personal to me.
Plan For What You Can Plan For
Nikki Van Noy: I’d love to hear a story about a client you have. Your favorite story about how you really created an incredible second act of life.
Bill Keen: Not long ago I received a call in my office and when I looked at the caller ID, I saw the name of a client’s husband, and although we had a great relationship with both spouses, in this case, we typically talked to the wife.
I have known these clients for over twelve years and the husband had never been the one to call me. So, he’d set up an alarm and before I picked up the phone, I sensed something might have been wrong. As it turned out Nikki, the wife had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer literally out of the blue and given three to six months to live.
While this is tragic news, I have been doing this a long time and these things aren’t unexpected. Of course, they are unexpected to the folks that are going through it, but if you look at a pool of people, we know that some of us are going to have to travel tougher journeys than others. If there is anything, I have learned over the course of my career is people deal with hardships in life and we never know how our individual journey is going to play out.
A couple of days after receiving this call, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table in the client’s home with one of my financial planners and wanted to make sure that all the aspects of this client’s financial plan were in order. This particular husband and wife had retired when they were in their early 50s.
When someone retires in their early 50s, in some cases before, but not often, it is always a point of concern, because of the longer time period that they have to make their assets lasts. So, with a normal life expectancy, the earlier you retire, the longer your assets have to last. It’s just common sense. When someone retires in their 50s, a lot more work must be done upfront to ensure that they will have the resources they need to last the rest of their lives. The husband had a nice pension and the wife worked as an engineer and built a retirement portfolio. They had a farm and they had the resources to retire earlier and pursue their passion.
They were deeply involved in their church and did mission trips and wanted to go around the world and they did that. So, eleven years after having pursued their passion and having done the things they wanted to do to maximize their time, the wife received her diagnosis. I have been through this many times with clients now at this juncture of my career, and they always look at me in the eye and ask the same question, “Will my spouse be taken care of when I am gone?”
They are worried that someone will take advantage of them or the scammers will come out of the woodwork and find ways to get their hands on their assets. They are worried that somebody might come and maybe offer to buy the farm with a low offer. There are just so many things.
That client has since passed and from a financial standpoint, the spouse doesn’t have to worry about anything. He has a team of professionals that protect him. Anybody that calls him or talks to him in any form or fashion, he calls us instantly, or forwards the emails.
I think it denotes the power of planning and living life to the fullest–leaving everything in the field, I like to say. We don’t need to be shy about pursuing the things we want to do.
Nikki Van Noy: This idea of having professionals there to rely on in those moments when you are alone and don’t necessarily know how to handle a situation strikes me as incredibly powerful. That’s security.
Bill Keen: I believe it is. That only comes from a personal relationship and from knowing somebody and understanding their family dynamics. Being current with them, being communicative, and knowing where someone stands at all times. I think that’s very important and a theme throughout the book.
Personally, it is about having a plan in place at all times, so that we can control the controllable in a world where there are many things that are beyond our control. There are things that are in our control. Sometimes, having a plan and having it updated is what we are in control of. We are not in control necessarily of the outcome, but we are in control of the plan. Having a plan and being pre-committed to certain things, if X happens, we do Y and we thought about it first upfront, that creates peace of mind. That creates confidence that we have done everything we can do to control the controllable. We have been prudent–we were living within our means and we can take whatever tomorrow has to present to us.
That’s what I believe is true peace of mind in financial and retirement planning, as opposed to just how much money you have. Of course, if you have millions of dollars it makes the plan better, but if you don’t have these other things in place, it can go south quickly.
Have a Good Co-Pilot
Nikki Van Noy: Finally, talk to me a little bit about how you equate flight planning with retirement planning?
Bill Keen: Well, I know we are talking about the book launch, but I also have a website and a podcast called keenonretirement.com and it is a resource that I have made available. I believe there are nearly one-hundred podcast episodes out. It is a resource that I wanted to put out into the community.
I routinely make the comparison between flight planning and retirement planning, because I am a pilot. About ten years ago, I walked into a flight school and I said, “I talked to everyone else about leaving everything on the field.”
By that, I mean pursue your passions. Tomorrow is promised to no one–do the things that you can do within reason and within the plan. Enjoy your lives. I was saying that to folks and I always wanted to fly. I was forty years old and I hadn’t pursued it yet. I walked in there and I said, “Give me the meanest, crustiest old flight instructor you have because that is how I respond. I want experience and I want someone to tell me what they need to tell me and what I need to hear.”
Now, ten years later, I am an active instrument-rated pilot with a high-altitude complex endorsement and high-performance endorsement. I utilize my airplane to travel across the country to see clients and to go to events–conferences and such. It is something that has been very, very fulfilling. As I have learned aviation and I have learned flight planning, I started to realize that it is life or death.
In the retirement planning field, the decisions that we’re making for folks and the decisions that clients ultimately make for themselves, it is fair to call them both life and death endeavors.
You might remember the tragic death of JFK Junior? It was actually twenty years ago. It’s crazy, but time passes. Sometimes we say the days go slowly but the years go fast. Again, to my point, let’s get our ducks in a row and let’s make the most of each day that we have. Most people recall that JFK Junior was flying his wife and her sister in his private plane to Martha’s Vineyard when they crashed into the ocean. Unless you have pilot training, however, you probably don’t understand how or why it happened.
When you are flying on a clear weather day, you can look outside and see the horizon, so you always know when your plane is level. Your body acclimates to that horizon. However, when you fly into a cloud or it is a dark night, suddenly your visibility is reduced to zero and you can no longer depend on the horizon to orient your plane. So, in a car, there would be no way to safely navigate with zero visibility. Imagine driving down the road at seventy miles an hour and all your windows fog over. But an airplane has instruments that help keep the pilot and the plane right-side up. One of the instruments is called the artificial horizon and it is important. The artificial horizon is a lifesaver. The horizon is artificial, but it is still the horizon.
Flying with instruments requires a special instrument rating that is hard for pilots to get. Even after you earned it, you have to take ongoing training to maintain it and you have to stay current and proficient. The FAA has guidelines and my guidelines for my personal safety and proficiency are much higher than even the FAA’s minimum requirements. There is a ton of private pilots that just fly for fun and they never get that necessary training to even earn the instrument rating because it is difficult.
When you are up in the air with zero visibility, your mind and body start to play tricks on you. It is a little like getting seasick on the boat but not being able to see anything. Suddenly you start feeling disoriented. It is common that the plane will be turning one direction, let’s say to the left, but the pilot will actually sense that the plane is turning to the right. So, if you are not trained to fly on these instruments, you feel the plane turning to the left.
You are sensing things that aren’t really happening and you are trying to correct things and most likely making them worse. Suddenly you are in a tight turn, which is more disoriented than ever. This can happen literally in a matter of seconds if you don’t have your instruments ready and you are not current and proficient on those gauges.
JFK Junior didn’t have an instrument rating, but in the United States, pilots are allowed to fly at night without the instrument rating as long as they can see by the moonlight or lights on the ground. So, ultimately his crucial error was a decision he made to shave several minutes off his flight to Martha’s Vineyard buy cutting out across the ocean and going directly, instead of flying up the coast seeing city lights as he had done in the past.
Once he was out in the ocean, haze was reported. It was dark, and the ocean is like a black hole. He lost visibility and when the disorientation set in, he became confused. We have looked at this many times. It’s believed that it took less than a minute before he was so disoriented that he flipped the plane upside down without realizing it. When he pulled out to gain altitude, he inadvertently flew the plane into the ocean. It might sound crazy if you have never flown a plane.
The disorientation that hits you when you have no visibility is just intense. You need to be able to read and fully trust those instruments to be able to survive. It is something that I take so seriously because I am instrument-rated. If I ever were to take off in the clouds or haze or if you are flying across the country and you are in clouds, which we are a lot, many times you look out the window and you can’t see anything because we are in clouds. Imagine the job the air traffic controllers have keeping all of those airplanes separated when none of them have any visibility outside the windows.
In the same way, you should never fly blind in your financial life. When you do, you put yourself and your loved ones at risk. You have to understand what you are doing.
So, you can put a plan in place, know your situation, know your assets, know what your objectives are, know where your starting point is, and your ending point. It is your financial plan that becomes that artificial horizon that I talked about in difficult times when you feel like you are flying blind. So, no matter what happens in the economy, in the political arena, your health, the health of a loved one, you name it, your artificial horizon will keep you from making dangerous knee jerk reactions.
I believe that having a fiduciary firm guiding you is like having Sully Sullenberger as your co-pilot. I really do. I appreciate you letting me go more personal on our episode today. We can talk taxes and Social Security and Medicare, and health insurance spending–so many things we can talk about with how this comes together, but for me it is about the personal aspect to it and how folks really execute these things in the real world with real emotions and real-life playing out on a day-to-day basis.
Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, of course. I appreciate you getting so personal on this, Bill because I think getting into the nitty-gritty of this can be very dry, especially on a podcast where people want information, but they also want to be entertained. You just did an excellent job of making this so engaging.