North of 70

Interstate 70, with its east to northeast slant, is used by our local weathermen to track storms which typically move at the same angle. Today, I heard the WTWO weatherman, Dan Reynolds,state “The rain should stay south of I-70 while north of 70 will be dry.” The statement prompted me to reflect on my recent personal attainment,reaching an age north of 70.

I remember in the late 1990’s I thought I would retire at age 60, certainly no later than 65. After all, many clients were retiring in their 50’s let alone waiting until 60, so I should be thinking the same, right? Here is the thing, though, many jobs are tied to a person’s physical health. Even a salesperson must be able to stand for long hours. A financial consultant mostly sits, plans and executes mentally. I now tell clients I plan to be here until Kyle places the “Senile” sign over my door! If keeping your mind active can delay that deteriorating process, then this career might keep me working for a long time.

Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Based on that, I have not worked for the last 28 years. The work for me would begin if I ever stopped consulting. I am not unique. From this vantage point, we assist a multitude of clients in retirement. Some keep so busy they have no idea what they did while working. Others become quite bored, sometimes darn right depressed. Those who have a passion for a hobby, travel or a second career seem to do the best.

Why stop working when you enjoy it and your health and family life enable you to continue? One lesson learned in reaching 70 is that you will continue losing friends and family the longer you live. Those losses are monumental, so why lose another love voluntarily? What is there to love about my job? To begin with, I go to work not knowing the challenges that lie ahead. Sure, I have projects planned, but the markets or unforeseen client needs alter plans on a dime! I like this uncertainty. I thoroughly enjoy our clients. You are all so different, loyal, inspiring, and 98% of you are fun! The other 2% leave us and that is okay. We should all work with people we enjoy, who can relax and be serious at the same time. Other things I am not anxious to give up are my relationships with my associates. There are ten of us here at The Volkers Group and I love each one of them. We are family and as a group we back each other up. We have been through a multitude of market and personal peaks and valleys, laughing and crying, raising victorious hands or holding sorrowful ones.

When I became a broker in 1987, I did not anticipate how technological advancements would alter my future. We hand wrote our orders, gave them to a wire operator to transmit to headquarters on its way to Wall Street. Ten minutes later we would find out if the order had filled. Today, I place orders myself, from my office or remotely when out of town, with immediate confirmation. In 1987, communication was restricted to letters and land-line telephones, today we have email and cell phones. Client information could only be accessed from hundreds of manila folders kept in the office. Today, all information is digitized, stored on our server and accessible by me from any location. Of course, it is all encrypted and password protected. The only thing I do not do remotely yet is face to face appointments and you know that is just around the corner with teleconferencing, webcasting, Skype and Face-Time rapidly making inroads.

So, here I am at 70, enjoying my career, clients and associates while spending a third of my time out of the office. What a blessing! I just sit back reflecting, “Ronald Reagan first became president at 70, so maybe I have a good seven years before Kyle gets out the sign for my doorway.”

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