“At the end of the day, people won't remember what you said or did.
They'll remember how you made them feel.”
- Maya Angelou
In the inaugural episode of the Simply Retirement Podcast, Eric Blake, a seasoned financial planning professional and founder of Blake Wealth Management, shares his extraordinary journey and invaluable background in the realm of finance. We take an intimate glimpse into the challenges he encountered during his early years as a financial advisor and the invaluable lessons he learned along the way.
Unveiling his unwavering passion for retirement income planning, Eric sheds light on the paramount significance of comprehending social security benefits and how it can shape our financial destinies. But that's not all—Eric discussed his personal hobbies and his resolute commitment to assisting individuals, particularly women, in navigating their financial endeavors with confidence and success.
Wendy McConnell: Welcome to the Simply Retirement Podcast with your host Eric Blake. I'm Wendy McConnell. Hello, Eric. How are you?
Eric Blake: I’m awesome. I'm super excited to be here with you today and looking forward to getting this started.
Wendy McConnell: This is the very first episode of the Simply Retirement Podcast. We're going to start each and every episode with a quote like the one you just heard. Eric, can you tell us the reasoning behind that?
Eric Blake: I started what I call Wisdom Wednesdays on social media probably three years ago now. To me, quotes are extremely important, almost like affirmations that get you started and put you on the right track when you wake up in the morning. I decided that when a particular quote spoke to me or got stuck in my head and put me on the right track, I’d share it. This one is the one I try to read every single day. It drives my thought process and makes sure I'm keeping the values that are most important to me, working towards what's best for our clients. With financial planning, that’s really what it comes down to: How are your clients feeling about your relationship? Do they feel confident and trust in where you have them going in retirement or whatever their financial goals are?
Wendy McConnell: I have to say I love it. I'm a huge fan of quotes and affirmations.
Eric Blake: You just never know what might speak to somebody on a particular day. There's another one from Zig Ziglar that says, “You'll get anything you want if you help enough people get what they want.” Any time somebody asks me what my favorite quotes are, those are the two I bring up.
I plan to look for quotes that tie to the show and make a difference in how listeners think about their life or how they think about their finances.
Wendy McConnell: Let's talk a little bit about you, Eric. How did you make the decision to get into this industry? Tell us a little bit about your history.
Eric Blake: I got an accounting degree, took the CPA exam, and realized very quickly that I didn't want to do accounting. My wife was a teacher for 25 years, and probably within her second or first year, she went to a seminar where a financial advisor was doing a presentation. She got a lot of value out of it, and later we went to meet with the financial advisor together. We were in our mid-twenties and we needed to protect our young family, so we were looking at life insurance. We had a bit of credit card debt and needed a plan to get rid of that. Seeing the financial advisor's role and how they provide knowledge and education, helping people make the right choices, it was eye-opening, and I just immediately knew this was what I wanted to do.
Wendy McConnell: Who do you work with? Do you have a specialty?
Eric Blake: As you go along and learn more, you kind of find your niche and what your passions are, and I figured out that I really love retirement income planning, talking about the implications of taxes and Social Security. Retirement income is just like a puzzle. You've got a 401k sitting over at this employer, an IRA sitting over here, and a Roth IRA over there. There may be multiple 401ks, and what do you do about Social Security? What do you want retirement to look like? Most importantly, you don't want to run out of money. Helping people create a vision for what life is going to look like once they're out of the workforce and turning it into reality.
Ultimately, I decided that my true passion was helping women achieve retirement goals. Whether they’ve gone through a divorce or they've been widowed or they’re single by choice, the decisions that women have to make when they're on their own are critical.
I was raised by a single mother. I saw the challenges she went through, and before I got into the real depths of retirement income planning, she made a mistake with her Social Security benefits. She qualified for what would've been ex-spousal benefits, but she didn't realize that. Had she known, it would've made a huge difference.
So many women, and so many people in general don't understand all the potential benefits of Social Security: survivor benefits, spousal benefits ex-survivor. All these different things. What age can you start? What age should you start? What if you're working? It's crazy.
If you know in advance, and ten years out you have a plan, it makes a real difference.
Wendy McConnell: What you are doing when you're not working. What do you do for fun?
Eric Blake: One of my favorite things, but I’m not very good at it, is to meditate. I try to do it about 10 minutes every morning, but my mind wanders constantly, so it's hard. I also consider a morning workout or a morning walk meditation. I'm an early morning person, I'm up at five o'clock whether I set an alarm or not. Whether I'm listening to a podcast or music, it gets my head away from work, out of the office. When I'm not going to the gym I do about a four-mile walk. I tell people all the time, if you're not taking a morning walk, you're doing something wrong. Getting out into nature and taking the chance to get your mind off the day-to-day, there's nothing better.
In this business, your clients are constantly on your mind. You have 70 households that you feel are reliant on you. It's hard not to have some level of worry. So that's where the walks come in. They get my mind off those types of things.
My wife and I also love to travel. We've got a big trip to Italy later this year that we're extremely excited about. It's the first time we've gone out of the country other than to Mexico. We've been married 27 years. She's been there for me and with me through thick and thin. When he started Blake Wealth Management in October of 2020 we said, “We're doing this together.” She had taught for 25 years, had some asthma issues around the time of the pandemic, and we just said, “Okay, you're done, you're not going back into the classroom.” I said, “This is a big move. I'm going to need somebody who can be there by my side to help me.” She joined me as our Director of First Impressions. Our clients love her. She can talk to anybody.
Wendy McConnell: If you had all the money in the world, what would you do?
Eric Blake: This is going to sound very cliche, but I would be doing exactly what I'm doing now. You have to see the look on somebody's face when you've made a difference in their life, and that’s what a financial advisor can do. Just recently I had a client who’s been with me since pretty much the beginning. I’ve been bugging her for over 20 years to get her estate plan done. She finally got it done, and it was like a weight lifted off her shoulders, knowing she’d taken steps in case anything happens, that her family is going to be taken care of and everything's going to be okay. There's nothing better than that.
There are probably other things to do. I've always wanted to be a coach. I love basketball, we're kind of a basketball family. There's a correlation between coaching and financial advisors: it's just helping put people in the right position to be successful. That's really what it comes down to. I have a hard time thinking there’s anything better than what I do every day.
Wendy McConnell: That means you’re living and working your purpose. You know what you want to be doing and you're doing it. What’s one thing that most people don't know about you.
Eric Blake: The people that knew me in high school would be completely shocked at what I'm doing right now. I was the quiet guy. Three fourths of the people didn't know my first name — I’m Eric Blake, two first names, but even today, people still call me Blake. When I think about where I was 30 years ago and the person I was and what I've become, nobody would believe it. Financial advisor, podcaster, all the above. I'm not a very good small talker, but when it comes to sitting down one-on-one with clients, it’s my passion. If you find your passion, you can talk about pretty much anything.
It's one of those things that I probably wouldn't have believed either. If somebody had told me 30 years ago, “You're going to be a financial advisor, you're going to start a podcast, you're going to be talking in front of people,” I would have said, “No, you're wrong. That's not me, I can't do that.” I still get nervous, but when you know you're making a difference in people's lives, it's a little easier to get over that hump.
Wendy McConnell: Let me ask you a little bit about the podcast. Who is it you most want to have listen to this podcast? Who do you want to reach?
Eric Blake: The people I'm looking to reach are primarily women who are looking for education, who want to make smart decisions when it comes to retirement.
We’re focused on women who are less than five years from retirement, maybe less than three. Those are the people we hope are going to be listening, especially women who’ve gone through a divorce, or who’ve been widowed, or they're just ready to take control of their own financial future.
Many women delegate that responsibility to their husband, and in the scenarios we deal with it's usually a woman in her early sixties, maybe late fifties, approaching retirement on her own and the vision she had of retirement has been turned on its head.
She’d thought, “I'm going to be retiring with this person. We're going to be together and we're going to be doing these different things,” and now it's a different reality. The puzzle pieces have all been mixed up, and we have to put them back together based on what's most important to them.
What I'm looking to do is provide education, talking about issues with Social Security, talking about tax planning. There was an article that came out last March that said the gender wage gap hasn’t changed in 20 years … women still make on average 82% of what men make. What does that mean to women? That means your Social Security benefits are lower. Your pension benefits, if you have them, are lower. Your savings. You probably haven't had the opportunity to save. Not only do you have the wage gap, there’s also the statistical probability that the woman has taken some amount of time away from the workforce to care for family, whether that's children when they were younger or parents when they got older. From my perspective, that doesn’t mean you can't have the retirement you deserve, but it does mean you need to be proactive.
You need to educate yourself on how to make your goals a reality: How do you make sure you’re making the right decisions with Social Security, that you’re not giving up benefits that you deserve, whether that's a benefit from an ex-spouse or survivor benefits from a spouse who passed away?
There are really three big pieces of the puzzle that need to be incorporated. It’s investing smarter. It’s minimizing taxes, and it's maximizing Social Security. If you can figure out how to do those three things, you're probably going to put yourself in a pretty good position to live the retirement that you deserve.
Wendy McConnell: I love it, Blake. I mean, Eric. That was a little joke. I actually do love it. I can’t wait to dig in and find out more. I’m very eager to hear what you have planned for us.
Eric Blake: I'm excited again. I've already got topics outlined and guests in mind, and I'm excited to bring some true value to the lives of the people that choose to listen. Hopefully they're going to benefit from it.
Wendy McConnell: How do people get in touch with you?
Eric Blake: I would suggest they check out our website. It’s www.blakewealthmanagement.com . We've got a lot of free resources on there, and a link to our YouTube video too. More importantly, we've got a page on the actual process that we go through with prospective clients who are looking to learn more about our firm. If you look at the very top of the home page, there's a big green “Start here” button. When you click that you can explore our process. I'm planning to do an episode specifically on why your financial advisor needs a process and how you can benefit from that. The first step in ours is a 15-minute introductory phone call where we get to learn about each other. You can ask any questions you might have for me, and I'm going to ask you a lot of questions about your goals, what you're trying to accomplish, and where we go from there.
Wendy McConnell: I’m looking forward to it. This was a total pleasure for me. Thanks for allowing me to be part of this journey with you.
Eric Blake: I appreciate you. You make this easy.
If you want to ensure that you are on the right track to retirement and living retirement on your terms, send us a note! Or, check out the episode “The Simply Retirement Roadmap™ Process” and get your own personalized Simply Retirement Roadmap™ here:
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