'He's Made Things Work for Me'; Financial Planner Hopes His CD Will Spread Message about the Importance of Early Retirement Planning

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

Just four years ago, Gloria McClain, 58, had no plans for her retirement. After more than three decades as a social worker for the Duval County schools, she was worried about how long she would have to work in order to retire comfortably.

Although McCain had no major health problems she often remembered how her mother struggled to pay off long-term family medical bills. McCain knew one thing -- she didn't want her son to deal with the same hardship.

A meeting with financial advisor Willie Brown III in the spring of 2001 changed her outlook. Now, less than a year away from retirement, she has her life insurance, medical insurance and extended health-care plans in place.

"He's made things work for me," McClain said. "I waited until 2001, so it was late, but now everything is where it needs to be."

In a way McClain was lucky, some of the clients who come to Willie Brown III & Associates only have months or even days before their retirement. Some have seen their savings wiped out by medical bills.

"Retirement seems to be a process we piecemeal together," Brown said. "We only consider retirement options once we are there, at retirement."

It was in response to these recurring issues that Brown, a chartered life underwriter, decided to create a new educational compact disc, Your Retirement, First Class or Coach? With the CD he hopes to spread the message about early retirement planning to his 450 clients in North and Central Florida and, to garner referrals and reach potential clients, he will give away an additional 200 CDs to people outside his client-base.

Brown, who has been with American Express Financial Advisors Inc., for seven years and began his own independent franchise in Jacksonville in 2001, has seen his client list more than double in the past few months as he's acquired a new satellite office in Tallahassee and is closing on an office in Orlando.

Brown sees more reasons now than ever to educate people about their options in the pre-retirement, retirement and post-retirement stages, the first of which typically begins at age 45. To do that, he's ramping up. Brown's sole employee, Suzy Jackson, is in the final stages of becoming a licensed associate financial advisor in the Jacksonville office and plans to specialize in annuities and long-term care. Brown is also hiring two more associate financial advisors to head up the satellite offices.

In the meantime, Brown spent the past four months working with a production company to find a compelling way to bring retirement issues, like inflation and withdrawal penalties, to the front of people's minds.

Brown's 10-minute CD is divided into seven short sections, each of which explains a different aspect of retirement planning. One segment highlights the main problems people commonly overlook when planning for retirement: underestimating the income needed to pay off expenses; saving less money than necessary; not considering how long the money has to last; and assuming they will stay healthy. …