In this first Client Spotlight post, I'm going to tell you about some clients I've been working with longer than just about anyone else - my first cousin, Rhonda and her husband Charlie - two of the nicest people you could ever know. Rhonda and Charlie and I started working together sometime around 2001 when they were both teaching and coaching for the Texas public school system and I was with Principal Financial Group, focusing on mutual funds, 401ks, annuities, and life insurance. At this point in my career, I had a Series 6 license and had not yet taken the Series 7 exam which allows an advisor to sell stocks, bonds, and other investments.
Our primary goal at the time was to make sense out of several annuity products Rhonda and Charlie had purchased while working for various school districts during their careers. Unfortunately, back in the day, some of the worst annuity products I've ever seen were sold to teachers. It was common for school districts to allow one representative from one annuity company to have access to teachers during 'in-service' - a time when teachers are prepping for the school year, have a million things on their plates, and have to quickly make a decision about how to invest for retirement. The biggest problem with this type of annuity is that they have very, very long surrender charge periods, which means an investor is penalized for taking money out of a contract early - usually before age 59 1/2. The surrender charges were so high, and the surrender charge periods so long, that I've never seen a similar product outside of the realm of public education. My belief is that they were only approved products because teachers invest in 403bs, which are a different kind of animal, and weren't scrutinized as they should have been, and not as much as other types of investments. Fortunately, these annuity products are much less common these days.
Continuing our story, Rhonda and Charlie and I have been working together for over two decades and I'm proud and happy to say that they were able to successfully retire at 52 years old. They were devoted coaches and teachers who'll be leaving the world a better place because of the thousands of lives they've impacted, going way above and beyond. As do most coaches, they spent countless hours on buses, at after-school practices, on weekends, working with kiddos. They were also devoted leaders in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and they stay in touch with hundreds of kids across the country.
Years ago, before Dave Ramsey was a household name, I taught his course, The Total Money Makeover, to several groups. Rhonda and Charlie used his plan, among other tactics, including a diverse portfolio, to enable them to retire at such a young age. They became debt-free in their twenties. But what I'm most proud of, is that they decided to start a volunteer business teaching debt-free living to others. They even went to Dave Ramsey's campus in Nashville.
Rhonda and Charlie have continued to positively impact many lives after their first careers in teaching. Like me, it's important to them to leave the world a better place, and they're certainly two people who will do so.
So proud to call them my cousins and long-term clients.