Every month since December of 2010, I have had a column published on the Financial Advisor website or in the magazine. This will be my last one for a while. A confluence of increased professional and personal obligations necessitates I take a leave for a spell. If I’m lucky and they’ll have me, I’ll be back in 2024.

I’ve loved writing for this publication. The staff has been wonderful. Over the years, I have come to know and respect the work of Evan Simonoff, Eric Rasmussen, Dorothy Hinchcliff, Jeff Schlegel, Ray Fazzi and Tracey Longo in particular.

Most of the columns are about advising retirees. I love working with retirees and always have. Working with older folks requires a particular type of patience that I am blessed to possess, apparently.

Retirees have life experiences that are fascinating, troubling, magical, terrifying and inspiring among other things. My retired clients have been helpful to me personally as I learned to be a husband, father, and now empty nester. My clients have collectively seen it all and they have been kind enough to share lessons they learned with me. The advisor became the advised.

I’ve learned a lot by writing these columns about retiree issues too. I’d like to share some of those things with you.

First, writing is difficult for me but worth the effort. When tax code changes come along, for instance, I’m not sure there is a better way to get up to speed fast on those changes than writing about them. You should consider writing more. You can do this as a cheat sheet for yourself or internal use with co-workers, an “explainer” for clients or as a blog post for your firm. It’s even more effective when writing for an audience of people with expertise in the topic.

Financial planners hold strong opinions. Almost every column I have written has resulted in email feedback, most of it good. The one piece that drew the most praise was “With or Without You.” I think every planner with some experience has met an Archie and Ethel and the story reminded many of just how valuable a good planner can be to clients.

I enjoy getting supportive emails and hearing the stories of my colleague’s clients but I’m also thankful for most of the emails received from people that disagree with me. My grandfather taught me to look for the truth in criticism because if you do, you often learn something. He was right.

Grandpa also warned me that some critics make doing that difficult. He was right about that too. This will come as no shock, but some critics are nasty trolls devoid of civility or logic. Fortunately, those types are a small minority. Some are so odd, they are entertaining, even comical. Others are not funny at all. One of my most recent pieces, “The Racial Wealth Gap in 2064,” resulted in one of the nastiest phone calls I have ever received.

If he hadn’t had his number blocked, I’d give it to you here. Maybe you could figure out what his point was. All I wanted to do was bring attention to a paper I found fascinating and worthy of discussion. He wasn’t interested in discussing anything. He just wanted to vent. If you think our profession is more enlightened about racism and racial issues, a snippet of that call would make you rethink your position.

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