Less than a block from the White House, Raymond James advisor Michael Feeley is in the eye of the storm during the current government shutdown.
With it likely that many federal workers will not be paid on Friday, the employee advisor has been fielding plenty of questions and requests for help. About 90% of his clients are federal employees and retirees.
“In general, those 50 and up have gone through this before, are not too worried about getting back pay and have three to six months of savings,” said Feeley, who is part of the Goldstein Group of Raymond James.
But for younger folks in a different situation, “They are trying to figure things out, how to make things work,” he explained. “They may have been in these jobs for only a few years … and are wondering, ‘What happens when I miss my first paycheck?’”
The advisor says he’s been calling federal workers who are renters, for instance. “They tend to be younger … and Washington, D.C., is a high-rent area. They don’t have six months of savings and are freaking out a bit more [than older clients].”
Though these newbie federal employees are not necessarily looking for part-time work, “I have mentioned that they maybe should look at driving for Uber if this drags on,” the advisor said in an interview. “We don’t want them to touch” retirement savings plans, such as the Thrift Savings Plans in which federal workers save.
The workers have health care coverage during the shutdown.
“But there’s a concern that when they go back to work, some federal employees will have to pay back the monthly health insurance premiums they have not been paying for [during the furlough], which will make the first paycheck smaller than they are expecting,” Feeley explained.
Federal workers are not guaranteed back pay, “though they’ve always gotten it,” he said. Younger federal employees, however, are not entirely convinced they will.
As for older workers, “Some say, ‘I am bored and am going to work five more years,’ or ‘I love the time off and want to retire earlier than planned.’”
As for Feeley, there seems to be no downtime in sight. “I know there will be more questions to come if this lingers on to the end of next week,” he said.
Commonwealth Financial advisor Katherine Liola says she is “in the thick of shutdown conversations.”
The president of Concentric Private Wealth of McLean, Virginia, says the practice serves many federal employees in the area.