“It takes forever to put a succession plan into place,” so “on the day you turn it over, you should be happy.” Instead, she felt “Oh my gosh, it’s over! It’s done. They don’t need me anymore. It’s time to move on.”
This is not a column about advisor succession planning.
No, this is a real-life story about what happens after that is accomplished. It’s about how one advisor found “purpose and meaning” in her life after she retired. It’s about how you can find the same in retirement, even when you feel that your clients and colleagues “don’t need you anymore.”
Peggy Cabaniss worked for more than 30 years as an investment advisor and cofounded HC Financial, a fee-only firm in Northern California. A CFP since 1986, she received many personal accolades during her career. She’s a long-term member of the Financial Planning Association and served on National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ national board and as chair in 2005-2006. She retired from HC Financial in 2014.
When she retired, Cabaniss knew she wanted to stay active but didn’t want to overextend herself. Therefore, she limits her volunteer work to two of her long-term passions — “investment committees for nonprofits and issues related to promoting women.” She says there’s a “huge, huge need in the nonprofit world” for good investment advice. “You find nonprofits still invested in CDs.”
She has served on the investment committees for the John Muir Land Trust, a cancer support group, a local education foundation, and on the national investment committees of her college sorority and the American Association of University Women. The latter two positions, she says, “give [me] a chance to work on big money” in their endowments and on “big issues — looking at women’s issues across the country.”
Cabaniss also remains involved in the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning’s Women’s Initiative program, founded in 2013 to encourage more women to join the planning profession.
In addition, she is active in NAPFA, primarily through a program that brings together retired advisors. “A couple of us started this retirement group” several years back after realizing how “close we had become” over the years in the fee-only group. With NAPFA’s blessing, the “Phoenix Gang” had its fourth annual meeting in April.
“We have eight different hour-long workshops,” she reports, using outside speakers and members presenting on a variety of topics.
For example, Carolyn McClanahan (the CFP and medical doctor) “talked to us on health issues for seniors,” while other sessions have been on tax code changes that affect the group and the various living combinations available to older people.
Several themes came out of those meetings, Cabaniss says. One is that “we all felt competent and responsible when we sat down in front of clients,” but now “we’re on the other side of the table.”
She says some advisors have trouble giving up that sense of competency and responsibility. “Some people in our group say they’re ‘gliding into retirement.’ But they’ve been doing that for five or 10 years! They can’t quite give it up and do something new.”
What would Cabaniss say to the many older advisors who proclaim they’ll “die with their boots on” rather than plan and execute a succession plan? Such an idea may be fulfilling for the advisors, she says, but not for their clients. “You are not providing your clients with someone who will be with them for the rest of their lives.”
And how about advisors who may be nervously contemplating their own retirements? “I’ve always told my kids,” she says, that when moving from one stage of life to another, “there’s always fear when the next chapter is blank. Some people can’t get past that fear, so they stay stuck.”
But its good try new things, she says, and to have a new chapter in your life. “That new chapter can be wonderful, exciting, enriching.”
James J. Green, a former editor of this magazine, is editor of Jamie Green Reports, an advisor-focused writing, editing and shepherding service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.