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Just Another Day in the Office

Just Another Day in the Office

February 21, 2024

Just Another Day in the Office

Experience, Confidence, and Empathy are signs of a true professional. 

A few years ago, I noticed a dark shadow forming in my field of vision.  Concerned, I called my ophthalmologist who made room for me to come in the same day.  Doing a quick exam, he declared that I had a detached retina, and needed to immediately (like now!) get myself to a retina specialist. 

This was a Saturday afternoon, and the specialists office was supposed to be closing, but they waited for me as I made the short drive.  The doctor was quite the professional – looked me over and told me I needed to go to the ER and he would arrange an emergency surgery to fix the problem.  He said I was lucky to have noticed it so early.   What happened next is something I will never forget. 

As I headed out the door, he called me back in.  He said “Look, I can see you are a bit nervous (scared? Terrified?) about this.  I would be too in your shoes.  But I just want you to know that I do this every day, I’ve done thousands of these operations, and to me – this is just another day in the office.” 

I can’t remember that doctors name but he got an A+ from me in bedside manner.  First, he took the time to notice that I was scared.  His words, delivered with true compassion, set me at ease and let me know that everything would be all right.  And it was.  While not a procedure I would ever want to undertake again, the operation was successful and vision was restored to normal. 

When you do this every day for a living, it is easy to forget that retirement is a big scary thing to people.  20 or 30 years without a paycheck?  That can be almost as scary as retina surgery!   When I take the time to remember this, I will try to be like that doctor.  “Look, I know this is scary.  You’ve never done this before.  It is one of the biggest financial decisions you have ever made.  But I just want you to know, I’ve been doing this for over twenty years.  I have watched my clients retire and then live through retirement.  I have seen this work time after time.  I’ve run the numbers and you will be fine.“   Just another day in the office.

The same thing applies with market crises.  It’s scary to watch the market fall and see your 401k balance wither before your very eyes.   Those who have been clients through a few of these crises know that when markets turn nasty, my fingers get busy on the keyboard.  During the scariest part of the 2020 pandemic crash I was posting blogs and answering emails almost every day with reassuring messages. Clients who have been with me for a while will say they don’t even bother calling me if markets are doing poorly because they already know what I will tell them.  This too shall pass.  Don’t panic.  Just another day in the office. 

I do believe that my value as a professional isn’t really about the numbers.  Anyone can run the numbers, find free retirement tools on your 401k providers website.  Heck, I am sure there are already AI apps that will create financial planning projections for you.  But you only get to do this one time.  Did you think of everything?  What might go wrong?  Can you really be confident in your own analysis? 

People don’t hire me to crunch numbers, they hire me to feel more confident in their big financial decisions.  And that confidence can only come from the experience of creating hundreds of plans, of following up year after year and watching plans unfold and adapt through good markets and bad.  I was able to take comfort from the cool confidence and empathy exhibited by that doctor so many years ago.  I only hope I can provide the same comfort and peace to my clients as they ease into retirement with confidence.  After all, I’ve been doing this for 20 years now.  I’ve created and managed hundreds of financial plans.  It’s just another day in the office.