RG 256 – Maximizing Your Income for the Retirement Lifestyle You Want w/ Sean Sparkman

Sean Sparkman is a real estate and financial advisor on a mission to help people protect their savings and grow their wealth along the way. He is also the host of The Safe and Sound podcast, a show where he educates listeners on how to create a safe and sound lifestyle, covering topics from personal finance and entrepreneurship to relationships and health.

In this episode, we dive into how you can keep your money safe against market corrections and inflation—something that has become more emphasized with the economic effects of the pandemic. Sean, with his extensive experience working in the annuity world, shares his knowledge on how to make money stretch for a long time, particularly the strategies on how to work with what you’ve accumulated and create different income streams from it.

We also talk about how the COVID situation has affected the financial advising industry, and we’re glad to find out that people at home are using the pandemic as an opportunity to learn about protecting their money. Sean is an amazing source of knowledge that we’re lucky to experience today, so if you want to start safeguarding your money and your future, this episode is one you wouldn’t want to miss.

Key Takeaways:

  • Whatever business you’re in, what matters most is the people around you.
  • When you can give more value to people than what they can give to you, that’s when you’re making a difference.
  • Making sacrifices now can help you maximize your income after retirement.

Be Bold, Be Brave and Go Give Life a Crack!

Listen to Podcast

Podcast Transcript

Sean Sparkman (00:00):

It’s funny. I was talking to my wife about this just the other day, because the biggest thing that I’ve noticed, and this is probably true, no matter what business you’re in is the people that you have around you, period, your mentors, the organization that you’re going through, you have to have the right people. And I went through a lot of different people in this journey. You know, I started with one insurance company left, there, went independent. And when you’re independent, you still have a, you know, an organization that’s over top of you. That’s helping you mentoring you, et cetera. And I went through a few different organizations until I found the right people. And I got lucky in a lot of ways. And I like to say, it’s all God, because I believe in Jesus. And I believe that everything happens for a reason. Then he led me to where I am today.

Sean Sparkman (00:41):

And I got the right people around me now, but there was a huge part of time where there’s a lot of stress and a lot of is this right? Is that right? Are they doing the right thing? Are they actually trying to take care of me and my clients? Or are they just in it for the money? And when you figure out that some people are just in it for the money and they’re not actually trying to help people. That’s when you got to get out and go somewhere else, you know, business isn’t doesn’t work. If you’re not working with people like, you know, I know you do the same thing. You’re there to not just do well for yourself, but to bring value and help other people. And I listen to Tony Robbins all the time, and I’ve been listening to one of his books recently, and I loved his thing. It’s about gratitude. Everything’s about gratitude and coming from that place of giving. And if you can give more value to other people than what they give to you, that’s where you make a difference. And that’s where you can really thrive and build a business.

Reed Goossens (01:45):

Welcome to investing in the U S a podcast for real estate investors, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs looking to break into the U S market join Reed, as he interviews go getters risk-takers and the best in the business about their journey towards financial freedom and the sheer joy of creating something from nothing

Reed Goossens (02:05):

Good. I get a ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another cracking edition of investing in the U S podcast from Los Angeles. I’m your host Reed. Goossens good as always every with us on the show. Now I’m glad that you’ve all tuned into learn from my incredible guests and each and every one of them are the cream of the crop here in the United States. When it comes to real estate, investing, business, investing, and entrepreneurship, each show, I try and tease out their incredible stories of how they have successfully created the businesses here in the U S how they’ve created financial freedom, massive amounts of cashflow, and ultimately create extraordinary lives for themselves and their families life by design. As I like to say, hopefully these guests will inspire all of my cracking listeners, which are you guys to get off the couch and go and take massive amounts of action.

Reed Goossens (02:51):

If these guys can do it. So can you now, as you know, I’m all about sharing the knowledge with my loyal listeners, which is you guys, and there’s absolutely no BS on this show, just straight into the nuts and bolts. Now, if you do like to show the easiest way to give back is to give us a review on iTunes, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter by searching at Reed Goossens. You can find the show wherever you podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google play, but you can also find these episodes up on my YouTube channel. So head over to Reed goossens.com, click on the video link, and it will take you to the video recordings of these podcasts. You can see my ugly mug of the beautiful faces of my guests each and every week. All right, enough of me let’s get cracking and into today’s [inaudible]

Reed Goossens (03:37):

Show. I’m the pleasure of speaking. It’s Sean Sparkman. Now Sean is a no BS type of real estate and financial advisor over his career. Sean has realized that the average working American is overwhelmed with protecting their savings from market correction, particularly now we’re in COVID. Um, so he he’s so passionate about helping his clients create strategies that protect their savings, but also help grow wealth along the way. He’s also the host of the safe and sound podcast, which you can find all over different platforms will wherever you podcast. And so I’m really pumped and excited to have him on the show today to share his incredible insight and knowledge about building businesses and helping the older generation plan for retirement in their later stages of life. But without that, with that being said, let’s get him out here, get a show and welcome to the show.

Sean Sparkman (04:25):

Hey Reed, thank you for having me today. I’m really excited to be on the show, mate.

Reed Goossens (04:29):

Thank you for coming. And I know I was a guest on your show a little while ago. I had a cracking time on that show and, and, and we’ll get into your podcast and how that helped grows your business. But before we do, can you rewind the clock and tell me how you made your first ever dollar as a kid?

Sean Sparkman (04:44):

Yeah, my first ever dollar that I made as a kid was the 11 years old. My parents pushed me to go get a job, sticking out the door at 11 and my buddies and my cousins. And I used to ride our bikes to the local country club that was, you know, 15 minute bike ride down the road. And we would go and caddy carry bags for the golfers and, you know, have a good time. And it was interesting to be working at 11 years old, but it was a lot of fun. And they gave you a job being under age. Yeah, yeah. Caddying. They would let you do cause you worked for tips. So you’re not actually, you’re not actually working.

Reed Goossens (05:23):

Got it. You’re not legally on the payroll. I love it. I love it. Uh, walk us through the journey of way, you know, we’ve, you’ve come from, and, and that experience of being a catty into what you’ve developed today, because I’m sure that’s been a bit of a, a long road, uh, to say the least, but, but maybe share with us any sort of tripping hazards along the way.

Sean Sparkman (05:43):

Yeah. So when I went through high school, I was actually to rewind the clock all the way back. I was homeschooled until fifth grade, but yeah, my mom, she, she homeschooled us me and I’m the oldest of four. And it was a really cool experience because when I ended up going into school, I was actually supposed to be placed three grades ahead, but they still put me in the grade that, uh, you know, the fifth grade at the time, it’s that way I wouldn’t be, you know, the small kid with all the big kids. And, uh, that, that really gave me though a stepping stone in life because one of the things my parents always taught me was to always read, always learn, constantly, be educating yourself, even though I was really hard-headed, which was why my mom ended up putting me in school because I always go my own way in one way or the other.

Sean Sparkman (06:27):

And throughout life that hardheadedness of course is good in some ways, but it can be a tripping hazard and other ways where I can be too hardheaded and too stubborn and you know, not listen, but that’s been one of the things that like I was telling you before we got on the show, I’m in the martial arts and I had been for over a decade now. And that’s one of the things that really taught me how to, you know, kind of break that hardheadedness and come humble and soft and open in order to be able to learn and understand that no matter how smart you are, no matter how much you can remember, you don’t know everything and you’re never gonna know everything. There’s always going to be somebody bigger, better, faster, somebody stronger, smarter, whatever it may be. And instead it’s about listening to every single person you sit down with.

Sean Sparkman (07:14):

And I forget at this point, who told me this, but it was something along the lines of, uh, when I first started in the financial services, I was doing nothing but life insurance. And I was actually working down in Detroit and in Flint, in the inner city and working down in there, you sit down with people of all types, right? Cause there’s, there’s people down there that have a lot of money and there’s people down there who don’t have much at all. And one of the things that I learned is I would learn more from some of the people who had absolutely nothing. And they were just these good, absolutely genuine people that, you know, you could just connect with and love. And, you know, being open to every house, you go into every person that you sit down with learning something from them and taking that mindset. That is really what brought me to where I am today.

Reed Goossens (08:06):

And talk to me about that journey, because obviously you didn’t just start building this business from scratch. You had some experience in the corporate world. So what was the impetus to go out and start your own

Sean Sparkman (08:17):

Business? Well, when I was young, like I said, I was homeschooled and my dad had his own business. My grandfather had his own business on my dad’s side. And then on my mom’s side, both of her parents and their parents were business owners in Detroit, you know, during the forties and fifties. And so this isn’t always a slag business owner mindset, but my dad ended up leaving, you know, the core or I’m sorry, the business owner world and going into the corporate world when I was young. And so I grew up with him there, but there was always this impetus of like, Hey, you should read rich dad, poor dad. And you should read, think and grow rich by Napoleon hill. And I was like, you know, 11, 12 years old. And I’ve read those books times since then. And so there was always this, like I knew I was going to run my own business.

Sean Sparkman (09:00):

I didn’t know what I was going to do. You know, I had a lot of people that pushed me to, you know, want to do like building a martial arts school, that type of stuff. And the whole time I’m working in the corporate world. And I was an equipment manager at a paving company locally here in Michigan, one of the big ones here, and I just knew corporate wasn’t for me. And so my sister-in-law happily working at this life insurance company and she’s like, Hey, you should come check this out. And I was like, I don’t want to do insurance, but whatever, I’m open to it. Like, I’ll go look. And, uh, you know, long story short, I went and saw their presentation. They’re like, Hey, just do what we tell you to do. And you’ll make at least $60,000 a year while helping people protect their family.

Sean Sparkman (09:41):

So I was like, okay, well I can, I can do good for somebody. And I can make, you know, at least what I’m making now in corporate. And then, uh, you know, hopefully make a lot more than that eventually while being able to help people. Cause that was the whole thing. I didn’t want to just go out and try and make a buck. I wanted to go out and actually do some good in the world. Right. And so I went into there and I ended up actually making six figures my first year. And that was really cool. It wasn’t what I expected. I just wanted to make what I was making and, uh, helped a lot of people started building some teams, uh, long story short. I ended up leaving there and going independent a couple of years later because it just made sense. I always wanted to be my own thing. And then that led me to eventually getting into the annuity world and then eventually becoming a full-on financial advisor. Cause I can do more. I can do more good that way then I could with just, you know, one path. Right,

Reed Goossens (10:34):

Right. And it’s such a interesting path, you know, going from life insurance into, you know, now into a new [inaudible] and helping other people expand their retirement savings, um, prowess, but also your, what comes through strong was, comes through very strong with you. I feel is that you’ll mission to try and help others. And I think that I can hear that from just what you’re saying and the passion that you’ve experienced, that you was wanting to help people. And you wanted to help the little guy. Um, is that really what the business is based on today and what you, uh, your mission is in, in the business?

Sean Sparkman (11:08):

Well, my mission in the business is to help people make their retirement savings less than throughout their entire lifetime, because the demographic bubble is something that we don’t talk a whole lot about in the world today. And it’s going to affect everybody across the nation. And it goes back to, you know, in the 1930s, when they started social security, do you know what the average age in American lives, who was at that time?

Reed Goossens (11:31):

I want to say 65,

Sean Sparkman (11:34):

You’re close. That’s the age they set retirement to for social security, but the average Asian American lifted was 62 and a half. Whereas nowadays we’re living upwards into our 85. That’s roughly the average age people live to 83, 85. That’s a huge difference in, you know, less than a hundred years. We’ve never had that before in history, big of a jump in longevity. And so now we’ve got people living longer than ever. And you know, the pension system doesn’t exist anymore. Not the way that it used to that. You know, back in the 1980s, they created the 401k and now guess what the average person has to become an investor, whereas it used to be all the institutional people. So now, now there’s this thing of, we have to make sure that people who are now living longer than ever can live the lifestyle that they want because they’ve worked so hard to get there. They’ve saved all this money and nobody knows what to do with it. You know, they turn to their FA their regular financial advisor has been helping them. But guess what? He knows one thing, he knows how to accumulate funds to get you to retirement. The majority of financial advisors, it’s kind of like, uh, your primary care doctor. If you need a knee surgery, do you want your primary care doctor doing knee surgery on you?

Sean Sparkman (12:42):

Probably. Probably not. Not as you want to walk again. So it’s the same thing like in your world, you know, in the real estate world, you want specialists for certain things. If you’re working in multifamily, that’s a totally different ball game than the guy that’s trying to sell a residential home. Right? So you got to have a specialist, no matter what industry you’re in, whether it’s financial advice or you’re working in real estate. And so we, we specialize in the end stage of retirement. How do you take what you’ve accumulated and turn it into streams of income, through different things like annuities or dividends from stocks.

Reed Goossens (13:13):

Interesting. And how many people come to you or do you help people before they come to you and say, Hey, Sean, I’ve got all this money I’ve saved and there’s gonna be the other side of the coin of people who, well, I didn’t save enough. What advice do you have for me today in order, maybe I’ve got to go and work for another five or 10 years in order to get to that quote unquote retirement stage where I can live off my savings and live off the decent investments that I’ve made through. Maybe some of the advice that you’ve given

Sean Sparkman (13:40):

Them. Yeah. So I get people across the whole range, but the vast majority of clients that come to me or you minimum of at least a hundred thousand dollars, and a lot of them are, you know, that half a million to a million dollar category, as far as net worth and assets that they have. I obviously occasionally have people that do have less than that. And like you’re saying, the number one thing they have to do is buckle down and start saving. And so of course at that point, it may be, you have to work longer. It may be that you have to take social security at a different time and put it off to have it increase and then continue working and then just buckle down and save as much as you possibly can. Because the reality is that 20 to 30 years of living in retirement is a long time. And you have to make money stretch a very long time. And if you want to live a certain lifestyle, you have to sacrifice now in order to be able to do that. So, uh, you know, I’m not the specialist for people that have less than a hundred thousand, but obviously I can give advice. You know, the vast majority of people that I have a hundred thousand plus that we ended up actually being able to work with and implement a lot of the strategies. And

Reed Goossens (14:43):

So what are you looking at from each spoke about average age of retirement and life expectancy? What’s the income requirement needed in those retirement years that you’re seeing, if someone has a hundred thousand dollars or half a million dollars worth of net worth, what are they going to need per year to keep him going for the next 20 years in retirement?

Sean Sparkman (15:05):

That’s a good question. Because the real answer is what kind of lifestyle do you want to live? Right? So there is no one that, Hey, you need 50 grand a year. It’s what is it? What are the you want, you know, like read, what, what do you want out of life? And you went and you built your life on your real estate, the way that you wanted to live your life. Right? And when you’re going into retirement, it’s the same thing. And I know no matter what type of money you have, you have to decide for yourself, do I want to live on 50 grand a year or a hundred grand a year? And what kind of life do I want it to look like? And then of course that brings into if they have their house paid off, if they have no debt, those types of things, all of that’s going to impact how much money somebody actually needs to live on. And, you know, if you have less money than somebody else, then maybe you have to adjust your lifestyle to be able to do, you know, what you want to do. But the good news is that there’s always a lifestyle that can be lived no matter where you’re at in life. It’s just a matter of making it work for you. And that may be cutting costs, or it may mean, you know, putting something off to a later time. You

Reed Goossens (16:04):

Mentioned earlier about annuities and bonds. Do you want to walk us through some of the different vehicles you are using and maybe some of the strategies you’re giving to your clients in order to help them maximize that income potential in the, in those retirement years?

Sean Sparkman (16:20):

Yeah. One of the big strategies that we’re doing nowadays is the annuity world. And the reason that we’re doing that as bonds just, aren’t what they used to be. So we’re replacing the portion of people’s portfolios and those bonds that just aren’t performing. Like they were back in the day with annuities and we can show, and there’s a guy named Tom Hegna. He puts videos out on YouTube all the time, where he talks about, you know, the death of bonds and the fact that you can make any retirement portfolio better by replacing your bonds with an income annuity. And he can show you that it’s a AAA, they function basically like a AAA rated bond with a triple C rated yield on the bond with the guarantees of the insurance company that you don’t get in the bond world. So that’s a huge portion of what we do instead of using bonds. We use those annuities in order to make people’s portfolios better and give them guarantees that you can’t get elsewhere. And then for the rest of it, we do a dividend stock portfolio in order to offset inflation and get more growth in that area.

Reed Goossens (17:18):

And in that dividend stock portfolio, what are you investing in specifically? Do you have something that you really like or a sector that you, you funnel people towards, uh, or is it just more of your standard blue chip type of stock investing?

Sean Sparkman (17:31):

No, it’s a, it’s a portfolio of 30 stocks and the spread across a lot of different industries. You know, there’s a, obviously a big focus on energy, consumer defense, things of that nature, but all of those companies, the main thing that we’re looking at is how long have they been paying their dividends? Because the last thing you want to do is get, you know, into a, like Ford who stops their dividend. You know, you get into, you get into Corona virus that, of course, nobody saw that coming. And then all of a sudden you don’t have a dividend anymore. It completely defeats the purpose of having the portfolio. The whole point is to have companies that are going to be paying their dividends and then increasing them over time. The last thing we want to see is, you know, something static or something declining. So, you know, companies like, for example, Johnson and Johnson that have been increasing their dividends consecutively over the last 20, 30 years. And they’ve been paying dividends for, you know, 40 or 50 years, and they’ve got huge reserves of cash. And so when you look at our portfolio, we’ve got a hundred through all the companies, there’s $158 billion that these companies are keeping in reserves just to pay their dividends. So if those dividends stop it, it ruins the whole portfolio. And so that’s the really big thing is making sure that we have the right companies

Reed Goossens (18:43):

Ruins the reputation, right? Or people like yourself that are saying, well, these guys aren’t paying anymore. So thus, we’re not going to recommend them for our clients in order to go and invest with them because they don’t pay that or they’ve stopped paying their dividends over a period of

Sean Sparkman (18:56):

Time. Right. Right. Exactly. And the whole point is to get your income increasing, you know, and one of the cool things is like this, you know, for us, the COVID 19 has actually stress test the portfolio in a way that was actually really good because it proved what we were doing. We actually had a very large increase in income for the people that were in our portfolio, you know, before Corona virus, because as the prices of the stocks went down, well, those dividends that get reinvested purchased more shares at a lower price. So, and your, your dividends get paid out per share, not based on the price of the stock, it’s based on each share that you own. So if you can increase those shares, you increase the amount of income that you’re actually receiving. So even though the value of the portfolio, if you were to sell out of it, went down the income that you’re receiving went up. And then obviously as the stock market recovers, the value of the portfolio comes back just like everybody else’s right. Right.

Reed Goossens (19:52):

What are you seeing as part of the COVID world things changing in the financial advisor industry that people are needing more access to information, and that COVID has forced that hand a little bit in that industry at all?

Sean Sparkman (20:09):

Well, what I’m saying is, and we, my main business is almost a hundred percent over the phone and virtually to be a screen shares, videos like this, et cetera. And this is how we meet with clients all across the country. And I, I do have local clients as well, but really it’s a different world. And the nice thing about COVID is that it forced everybody into their homes to start using technology that we’ve been sitting here and we’ve had access to, but all of a sudden people have a level of comfort that they didn’t have before. And so for, for our business, it’s actually been a good thing because it’s pushed people to go, well, maybe my portfolio, isn’t what I need. Because along with the volatility, the market that all of a sudden going, whoa, I didn’t see this coming because nobody saw it coming. Right. But at the same time, last year, when, when I was going through and teaching people, we saw that there was a setup for some type of correction coming. We just didn’t know when, and we didn’t know how big it was going to be because we had such a long run in the stock market, you know, 10 year bull run is historical.

Reed Goossens (21:08):

Exactly. Exactly. And then you talk about teaching. So what types of teaching do you do? Is it for all your clients, is when you’re onboarding them to help them see a little bit, but under the curtain of what you do in order to make sure that you’re maximizing their returns and their retirement in their retirement years.

Sean Sparkman (21:24):

Yeah. That’s the most important thing to me is making sure that people understand the plan. They understand what’s going on, because if you don’t understand how dividends work, how annuities work, how bonds work, et cetera, whatever it may be that you’re investing in like real estate, if your clients don’t understand what the plan is with the real estate, how are they supposed to continue moving forward in that? Right? It does. It doesn’t work. People have to understand, and it’s such a complicated world, but the actual vehicles are so simple. And you know, I just, I had a new client that I just signed up. And when I was talking with her, she said, you know what, Sean, I’m so thankful that I found you because nobody that I’ve worked with in the last 20 years has ever explained any of this stuff, to me, at least in a way that I could understand it.

Reed Goossens (22:09):

So, so with that being said, what, what was the big thing that she had initial? And because part of what you’re doing is providing value through just simple conversations and maybe some, some videos, right? That, that’s what I assume your education is, is just walking people through in layman’s terms. So what was one of the major, maybe it’s an annuity, but did you not understand annuities or something like that?

Sean Sparkman (22:29):

Oh, she didn’t understand annuities. She didn’t really understand how dividend stocks worked. And she, I mean, it was just like a whole nine yards. Like she kind of got the concept, but she didn’t really understand how they worked in a lab. I noticed a lot of people don’t, you know, a lot of people think that you buy a dividend stock and they’re they’re brewer spheres, you buy in at 50 bucks. And then the next day it drops to 20. And you know, now all of a sudden you don’t have any money, but the reality is that with dividend stocks, it’s per share. And that’s the part that’s confusing because it’s not related to the actual price of the stock. That’s only if you sell it, but as long as you’re holding it, they’re paying you that dividend for each share that you own. So if they’re paying three bucks per share and you own a thousand shares, you know, they’re going to pay you $3,000 per year. That doesn’t matter if the price of stocks a hundred bucks or 20, it’s still coming in, locked

Reed Goossens (23:18):

In that, that, that right at that point. Right?

Sean Sparkman (23:21):

Right. So that’s the big thing. It’s just little things like that, that a lot of financial advisors, they just, they don’t teach people and say, Hey, this is what you should do. But it’s like, well, why are you going to do this for you? But how does it work? You know? And they, they still go through the little things. And it’s the little things I’ve noticed in life that people really appreciate. And that makes a big difference.

Reed Goossens (23:44):

People sitting at their not knowing what a nudity is, give us a 32nd pitch.

Sean Sparkman (23:49):

Yeah. So it was 30, 30 seconds on an annuity. As long as you’re on the fixed side, there’s, there’s two different kinds. Variables, variables are a whole different animal. Those are actually invested in the market. They have high fees. You can lose if the market goes down, et cetera. And obviously you can gain if it goes up. But as far as the fixed side goes, and you’re looking at the income annuities, those income annuities will provide you an income for life. So it’s a way of taking a lump sum of money and turning it into a cashflow that’s guaranteed for life. And of course, it’s guaranteed on the back of the insurance company that you’re using. And so when you’re looking at that versus a bond, and you’re, you’re comparing the two, they are different financial instruments, but they both have a similar thing. You know, bonds are meant to provide income and provide some safety in your portfolio. But as we saw in 2008, they’re just not what they used to be in the seventies, eighties and nineties. Right? And so when we put those in annuities in place, it gives you a lot more security of knowing that that lifetime income stream is going to be there. Awesome. I love it.

Reed Goossens (24:50):

I love it. Mate. Tell me, what’s been the most difficult element of growing your business. You’re a young guy. Um, how have you, what have been some of the stumbling blocks along the way along this journey to, to grow your reach, to grow simple things like the educational piece? Like what, what is

Sean Sparkman (25:07):

It? Well, it’s funny. I was talking to my wife about this just the other day, because the biggest thing that I’ve noticed, and this is probably true, no matter what business you’re in is the people that you have around you, period, your mentors, the organization that you’re going through, you have to have the right people. And I went through a lot of different people in this journey. You know, I started with one insurance company left, there, went independent. And when you’re independent, you still have a, you know, an organization that’s over top of you. That’s helping you mentoring you, et cetera. And I went through a few different organizations until I found the right people. And I got lucky in a lot of ways. And I like to, you know, say it’s, it’s all God, because I believe in Jesus. And I believe that everything happens for a reason.

Sean Sparkman (25:48):

Then he led me to where I am today. And I got the right people around me now. But there was a huge part of time where there’s a lot of stress and a lot of is this right? Is that right? Are they doing the right thing? Are they actually trying to take care of me and my clients? Or are they just in it for the money? And when you figure out that some people are just in it for the money and they’re not actually trying to help people. That’s when you got to get out and go somewhere else, you know, business, isn’t, it doesn’t work. If you’re not working with people like, you know, I know you do the same thing. You’re there to not just do well for yourself, but to bring value and help other people. And I listen to Tony Robbins all the time, and I’ve been listening to one of his books recently, and I loved his thing. It’s about gratitude. Everything’s about gratitude. And coming from that place of giving. And if you can give more value to other people than what they give to you, that’s where you make a difference. And that’s where you can really thrive and build a business.

Reed Goossens (26:43):

And with that being said, did you notice that other financial advisors weren’t giving that layman’s terms type of explanation to their clients and thus confusing them? And you could be the differentiating factor in the market because you are giving that a little bit extra help and guidance, uh, on the onboarding process.

Sean Sparkman (27:02):

Oh yeah. A hundred percent. I get those responses all the time. Oh, I didn’t know that. Or I didn’t know this. And I’ve been with this guy forever. I’ve been with that guy for 10 years. And he never told me that I, you know, what the heck, what, why didn’t he explain that to me? It was also

Reed Goossens (27:16):

A good customer service, right? It just makes you stand out from the crowd in terms of, well, you’re doing something different. Which to me seems crazy that no one else is doing that because so many people come into this world that come to the corporate world and they don’t have all his money saved up or 401k, and they just don’t know what to do with it. And they blindly give it to these financial advisors, not knowing where it’s going, why it’s going in that direction. And I think that’s why financial advisors, at least in my opinion, get a bad rap because they’re not giving the explanation and the education behind, you know, looking under the hood that is like, eh, give it to me. I’ve got share thumbs up. You know, I’ll make you some money where taking the time to, you know, go through that education piece, empowers people to know what they’re doing, and let’s be a little bit dangerous. And so they can ask better questions, you know, in the future. How’s that stock go? How has that, well, you told me that one thing about that annuity is that, is that coming true? You know, they can, they can keep you on your, your you on your toes, but they’re now educated and empowered because you’ve provided value, which I think is really, really key listening to your story here. Did they leave anything out?

Sean Sparkman (28:19):

No, you, you hit the nail right on the head. And I tell people all the time, you know, especially when they’re in the onboarding processes, you know, you don’t have to work with me. You can go work with anybody that you want to, but whether you work with me or you work with somebody else, make sure that you understand what’s going on and you get the education. It’s the most important part of the whole thing, because I find that sometimes financial advisors that are offering different plans, they don’t even understand some of the parts themselves. Right. You know, they’ve got somebody telling them, Hey, do this, do that, or do this. And they don’t know what’s going on. And then they’re telling you what to do. And so they can’t ask to answer those questions. And that’s why you have to constantly be educating and learning yourself that, you know, that’s why you do the podcast. I know for a fact, because I do a podcast, you learn sometimes more from the guests than you do from even reading the book a hundred bucks, 100%

Reed Goossens (29:12):

As a, as a podcast host, I learn it’s nearly like my mentor actually, uh, for those people out there. So I’ll ask you, how has your podcast to help you grow your business in a way through providing a platform of education to your clients? I assume it’s helped it tenfold, right?

Sean Sparkman (29:29):

Oh yeah. The podcast has been absolutely amazing. Uh, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s created a lot of networks. I get to meet people like you, and obviously come on your show, which thank you for having me on the show. This has been really cool, but, uh, you know, as far as like my clients go, I was just speaking with an existing client yesterday and she’s like, Hey, I listened to your show on dividends that you did, uh, you know, a few weeks ago. And I just had a couple of questions about that now. And things like that, that come up all the time. And then of course, just being able to network with people that like are in my area, I’ve had some people there that they said, Hey, you know what? You can help this person. You can help that person. And just bringing that value of I’ve got this one client. I absolutely love her. She’s like, I’ve listened to every single show you’ve ever done. I absolutely love it. I’ve learned so much. You, you you’re building

Reed Goossens (30:17):

A tribe, right? There’s those, those raving fans of what you do.

Sean Sparkman (30:21):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a lot of fun. It

Reed Goossens (30:23):

Might tell me, what are you doing between now and the end of the year? We’re still in COVID how does the business look moving into 2021?

Sean Sparkman (30:31):

Um, business is actually really great. It’s been a lot of fun. And the, it was a little slow when everything first hit. I think that’s because everybody was just so shell shocked, nobody saw it coming and everybody got in their house and they’re like, wait, I can’t leave. I have to work from home. You know, like my, my wife is still working from home and she used to go to the office and they’re going to be working from home until 2021. Wow. And yeah, it’s just a totally different world. So once people got out of that shell shock and starting, you know, mid April may, that’s when things really started to pick up because everybody started getting on the internet and you know, to this day it just continues to roll. And I have more and more clients coming on board every day. And you know, as far as my business goes, it’s great because we’re helping people protect their money. So that if something like Corona comes around again, which we know it will. I mean, you look through history, you get.com bubbles in 2008 and oil crisis is, and we don’t know what the next one is. It’s called black Swan event for a reason, but something’s going to come along. And if you’re in your retirement years, you have to have a portfolio that can withstand that. So

Reed Goossens (31:34):

That’s a good closing question then is what have you learned through COVID from an investment point of view for those retirement folks out there that will help be more recession proof in the future, should another pandemic like this come

Sean Sparkman (31:49):

Come about? Well, what we learned is that the annuities did their job. Anybody that had money in any of the fixed annuities that we’ve done, didn’t lose a single penny. Their lifetime income kept coming in the door every single month, regardless of the market volatility going up and down. And the other thing is that people that were in the dividend stock portfolio, they also had an increase in their income. So even though as long as they didn’t sell out of the portfolio, their income increased any income they received from the annuity stayed steady. And overall, you know, when a lot of financial advisors were getting calls left and right going, oh my gosh, what happened to my portfolio? What’s going on? Why didn’t you prepare me for this? Why don’t you get me out of the market? It, you know, w we didn’t get those calls, right. We just don’t, you know, our phone lines were quiet. We had a few people call and say, Hey, is it is the plan working? Yeah. Plans working great, shocked by that.

Reed Goossens (32:41):

Were you expecting it to be, go so swimmingly,

Sean Sparkman (32:45):

Uh, you understand how it works and you know, that that’s what it’s supposed to do. So I wouldn’t say I was shocked, but I was pleasantly surprised to really see it truly withstand all the different forces that were placed upon

Reed Goossens (33:00):

Them. The mechanics behind the investment thesis worked. Right. Essentially. Yeah,

Sean Sparkman (33:05):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, cause I, I haven’t been doing this 20, 30 years, the guys that run the portfolio, they’ve been doing it 20, 30 years and they got to see it work during the.com bubble in 2008. But I didn’t physically get to do that. You know, like thousand six is when I got out of high school. So I wasn’t managing people’s money at that time, but I know

Reed Goossens (33:27):

Being a young entrepreneur myself and, and you know, I, I manage money as well, but in the real estate space, this has been a good straw. Uh, you’re getting your badge when you stripes, you know, we’ve gone. We were going through very difficult times and that’s only gonna make us our assumptions better. It’s only going to make our operations better moving forward and make sure we are communicating effectively with our clients too. So they understand what’s going on, whether it be good or bad. Um, so, so yeah, I think it’s, it’s only been, it’s only been a blessing in disguise in my, my mind it’s, it’s, it’s helped us in, at least in our portfolio now can say, yeah, we’ve come through or coming through COVID we’re navigating these waters XYZ, and we’re doing relatively well compared to say other investment vehicles. Uh, and I’m sure the same goes with your business, that you, you now have that sort of feather in the cap. These, I know what will I’ve survived. COVID

Sean Sparkman (34:20):

Right. Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. And you know, one of the coolest things is a couple of weeks into it. Like once the market really took a big dive, I had some clients that called me up and a couple others that texted me and they, and they were new clients that signed up at the end of last year. And they go, you know what, thank you so much because if you hadn’t shown up and gone through all this with us, we would have, we would have lost so much. Right. And we’re watching friends and family go through it and, you know, w we’re just kicked back and we’re happy. Sure.

Reed Goossens (34:51):

Are you getting a lot of referral business from that? So awesome stuff might look at the end of every show. We’d like to dive into the top five investing tips. You’re ready to get into it. Yeah, let’s do it. Mike, what is the daily habit you practice to keep on track towards your goals?

Sean Sparkman (35:07):

Well, I love to take my dog for a walk with my kid. He’s only a year and a half old, every single morning I walked the dog. We take a half hour to an hour walk me and the kid in the stroller. And during that time, I, I take my headset and I listen to books. So right now I’m listening to a Tony Robbins book, but I constantly listen to books and continue to rotate them. Lovely,

Reed Goossens (35:29):

Lovely, like having a bit of peace and quiet at the beginning of the morning, before you dive into your day, I think that’s super important. Uh, and really the, the hallmark of a lot of is entrepreneurs and investors who come on the show, uh, question number two, who’s the most influential person in your career to date?

Sean Sparkman (35:45):

My dad, your dad? Yeah, my dad a hundred percent. You know, he, uh, you know, I was homeschooled obviously, and he taught me so much and he’s always been there for me, every everything from sports through all the way through, I actually was working for him in the corporate world. Yeah. And, uh, when I left was right around the time that he retired and he actually still works with me to this day. So he’s part of, yeah, he’s part of our company. He’s just one of those guys who can’t sit. So he’s like, you know what? I was in corporate as an executive and let’s just take all that experience and roll it in, uh, helping people with their retirement money. That’s awesome.

Reed Goossens (36:20):

And that’s, that’s, that’s kind of cute, you know, that your dad’s help you get started. You work with him now you’ve started your own business and you can sort of pay it back, which is, uh, pretty, pretty fricking awesome. Uh, question number three. What is the most influential tool in your business on a daily basis? And when I say tool, it could be a physical tool, like a journal or a, you know, your phone, or it could be a piece of software that you just can’t run the business without. So what’s the most influential tool.

Sean Sparkman (36:44):

Well, right now it’s software like zoom, I use join me instead of zoom, because it’s just easier for what I do. But, you know, having the ability to share a screen and do the video, if we need to and show people in black and white, just like I’m sitting there in the room with them is hugely influential. And it really gives us the ability to actually do the business, you know, before this type of technology, it would have been almost impossible to do all this type of business. 100% over the phone,

Reed Goossens (37:14):

Probably expand tenfold with, with your podcast and your message and your mission and the word of mouth that people are coming through. COVID unscaved with the types of investments you’ve put them into. So I think it’s, it’s all, it’s all going in the right direction for you mate. So it’s a well done. Uh, question number four is in one sentence, what has been the biggest failure in your career once you learn from that failure? Biggest failure in my career,

Sean Sparkman (37:41):

Huh? That’s an interesting one. It would be, uh, the, the team and the direction that I tried to take it when I was at the insurance company and it wasn’t the right way to go. And it was ultimately what led me to leave the insurance company. And it was a blessing in disguise at the time, because it ended up leading me to where I am today, but it wasn’t what I had wanted to do. Uh, what, the thing that we were talking about earlier, it’s about the people that you’re with. Got it. A hundred percent. Got it, got it. Awesome

Reed Goossens (38:10):

Stuff, mate. Look, last question is where can people reach you to continue the conversation they want to be in your sphere? They want to find out a little bit more about what you do, where

Sean Sparkman (38:17):

Do they go, Hey, then go to the podcast, the safe and sound podcast. Just put my name in Sean Sparkman, SCA N S P a R K M a N, stuff it into Google. You’ll find me somewhere. I got all the social media out there, so I’m easy to find. And then, uh, we also have a website safe and sound retirement.net. Got it.

Reed Goossens (38:38):

Well, look, I want to thank you for jumping on the show today. I just want to reflect some of the things that I took away from the today show. And I think that the first thing that I took away from today’s shows that, you know, being humble, uh, and learning to be humble through your upbringing of, um, homeschooling then going into, you know, uh, martial arts and learning to stop being so stubborn headedness, and then learning the, the art of being, being calm and compromise, I think is really important. But, but through that, I think you sounded like you’ve learned a lot about the value of helping the average person and, and you can definitely hear it in the way that you present yourself and the underlying mission that you sort of drives you to get up every day to not help the seven or eight figure type of person in the world, the top 1%, but actually helping, you know, the, the average American access, affordable retirement advice through really, uh, sound investment vehicles.

Reed Goossens (39:30):

Like we just discovered, we discussed in terms of annuities, um, and dividends, dividend paying stock, stock bonds, a stock, uh, stock investments, but also making sure that you’re leading with the education piece and just breaking it down in a way that you are educating people in a way that they can understand it. So they’re not like feeling like the is being pulled over their eyes and they don’t have to have a PhD in science or mathematics in order to understand what they’re doing. And I think that there is a differentiator for you, but also helps attract a certain type of client that I think is going to make you successful for years to come. So somebody didn’t leave anything out

Sean Sparkman (40:06):

Now. You’re doing good. Great, absolutely wonderful. Thanks again for having me on the show. So it’s been a great conversation. Awesome.

Reed Goossens (40:13):

Enjoy the rest of your week. Uh, we’ll catch up very, very soon and remember wash

Sean Sparkman (40:17):

Your hands. You too.

Reed Goossens (40:20):

Another cracking episode jam pack with some incredible advice from Sean and how he is helping shape the average American’s retirement vehicles. Once they hit retirement age, if you do want to find anything out about Sean, please head over or just typing his name into Google. I said, stuffing into Google, Sean Sparkman, and go to the safe and sound podcast. It’s all over iTunes. It’s all over the web. Our here is it’s very easy to access. I want to thank you all again for taking some time out of your day to tune in, to continue to grow your financial IQ, because that’s what we’re all about here on this show. If you do like the show, the easiest way to give back is to give us a five-star review on iTunes, and we’re going to do it all again next week. So remember be bold, be brave and go give life a crack.