Top 5 Attributes to Retire Well

Last week I attended a retirement party for John, a long-time client and friend that I cannot seem to forget about. The party was like a back yard wedding you would see in the movies. There was a big white tent, a great live band, and of course, plenty of food and drinks with well over 100 guests in attendance. However, the food and atmosphere is not what stuck in my mind, the genuine happiness and relationships the guests had with John is what stood out. John clearly has lived his life well.

John spent his career selling property and casualty insurance to large companies. Not the most glamorous job and it can be one of the most stressful and competitive jobs which often leads producers to divorce, depression, and occasionally unfulfilled lives. This was obviously not the case for John. As I reflect on the choices he has made over the past ten years I have known him, the following attributes are allowing him to retire well.

Top 5 Attributes for retiring well:

  1. Live Below Your Means – One of the greatest challenges an insurance producer has is the ability to effectively manage cash flow. During the good times, John always maintained the same level of lifestyle. In peak earning years, he increased his savings not his spending. The financial choices made during his career gave him the flexibility to retire on his terms.
  1. Family First –Throughout his career, John worked extremely hard and put countless hours into building relationships with clients and developing new business. However, while working countless hours for his agency he never wavered on his commitment to his family. John continued to invest time and energy in the relationships with his family even when time was limited due to his work. That investment in his family during his career is paying off now as he enters into retirement. The joy, connection, and genuine happiness his wife and children have for his success is evident in their behavior and desire to spend time with him today.
  1. Goal Oriented – John regularly set both short-term and long-term goals for himself. He pushed himself to achieve those goals. Whether it was setting a time goal for completing a marathon or an annual sales goal, John was laser focused on achieving the goal. He wanted to retire before age 60 and much to his credit he was 59 years young on his last day of work.
  1. Generous – John derives a great amount of joy from helping others. He acts as a mentor for younger producers and is actively involved in charitable causes. John does not just write out a check – he is an active fundraiser and board member for many non-profits. John is generous with time and money, which has provided him with a greater sense of purpose as he approached retirement. This generosity has also led to deep personal relationships with others.
  1. Healthy – John will never be confused for Arnold Schwarzenegger (sorry John) but he has always maintained a healthy lifestyle. While working, he found time to train for marathons and on weekends, you can find him biking or hiking along the Illinois Prairie Path. His healthy lifestyle has certainly helped balance the stress that comes along with high-pressure sales.

John’s retirement party served as a great reminder to us all that retiring well is not just a financial calculation. Retiring well is an accumulation of years of building deep personal relationships, smart financial decisions, and a healthy lifestyle.


BDF’s Commercial Insurance Practice Group understands equity compensation and the valuation of business and uses this knowledge to help insurance professionals develop financial plans while minimizing tax bills. Whether working with a producer or business owner, we focus on one’s individual goals, family involvement and living a full life.

Jim King, CPA, CFP® is an owner and wealth manager at BDF where he leads the Commercial Insurance Professionals Practice Group. He uses his understanding of the insurance industry to help insurance professionals maximize their prime earning years, develop a discipline around saving those earnings and put a plan in place to best utilize assets. His focus on creating financial blueprints for his clients has earned him recognition as a “Five Star Wealth Manager” by Chicago Magazine.