Broker Check

Understand the Process to Minimize Surprises

| January 17, 2023

TO:            FERS employees nearing or recently retired

FROM:          Bruce Mazo

SUBJECT:     Understanding the financial and investment planning process to help minimize surprises


Starting in the middle / deep end of the pool …

  1. In my professional opinion and experience with FERS employees as well as other people near or having recently retired, it is possible that your best interest is to make no change.
  2. It is also possible that it is in your best interest to leave some of what you have exactly as it is, but also change some.
  3. So the third choice is it might be in your best interest to change everything.

And … until we have a conversation / some kind of communication – written or verbal – I simply don’t know which “bucket” might ultimately be in your best interest.


Compensation – Disclosure – Regulation – ultimately In writing

Other business fields have more simplified and less regulated compensation structures. So, at times, they might request or even require an initial (maybe partial) payment at the beginning.

I do not.

In my view, I can’t.

If it is not in your best interest to do anything with me, then I can’t accept you as a client. Meaning I can’t accept any payment from you and / or do any business with compensation, “embedded” or separate.

Different products & services might and probably often have different compensation structures, often regulated in some ways. Ultimately, you’ll receive something in writing from me, and sometimes from a financial Sponsor company as well.


So my process starts with conversation(s.)

Written and / or verbal. Initially one-on-one, if you wish. But typically with married people, fairly soon with both of you. Even – especially – if one of you is a lot more interested in the financial minutiae than the other.

In the first conversation(s) I won’t:

  1. Ask you to make any decision on the spot. Thinking about it and / or taking the time to have a private conversation with a spouse / loved one / trusted person makes sense to me if that is your wish.

  2. Ask you to share any confidential details during that first conversation.

Getting into the financial details would happen eventually, but not immediately.

So that first conversation can serve as an entry point or decision point for you to determine if I might be the financial adviser for you and your family over multiple years. Most people don’t wish to change frequently, if at all. 

Reaching your financial goals – at minimum making meaningful progress toward your financial goals is the purpose of the exercise.


Then what happens?

If you and spouse / significant other (if any) are in broad agreement about you goals and about potentially working with me (no commitment yet,) we set a follow up meeting to talk financial specifics. The point of that meeting is to identify exactly where you stand right now, and discuss in broad terms possible ideas and concepts to meet or at least make meaningful progress toward your goals.

Then I would take all of my notes and any documents you’ve provided and develop some choices to discuss with you. Especially advantages & disadvantages of those choices. 

At that point, it all depends on your specifics. You might want to implement … some … all … none of my initial recommendations. If so, we get into the minutiae required to do that. If not, perhaps you have additional concerns and /or ideas on what else to consider. Or perhaps that ends the initial process.

You are the decision-maker(s.)

I welcome your questions, comments and / or concerns. Please feel very free to reach out to me.