Planning for retirement can be scary. When you’re in your 50s and think about stepping away from the work that has filled your daily schedule for the last few decades, you can feel a loss of identity. When you think about leaving your most predominant social circle – the workplace – in addition to no longer receiving a steady paycheck, it can feel overwhelming, even paralyzing.
But Jason LaBarge of Premier Planning Group wants to help people enter that new phase of their life with confidence. “I have met so many people nervous to ask me, ‘Will I have enough money to retire?’ and being able to work together and watch them become genuinely excited for retirement is the best.”
In fact, he sees that as his favorite part of his job as a retirement planner. LaBarge loves being able to meet a client at 11:00am on a weekday, scheduled in between their tennis match and lunch downtown, after years of being able to meet only in the late afternoon or evening, because they had to schedule around their workday. “It’s great to see that transition because nothing fundamentally changed,” LaBarge said. “They didn’t go from having $200,000 to having $400,000. They had $200,000 and still have $200,000, but they felt comfortable saying, ‘We’re retiring.’”
LaBarge was inspired to help ordinary everyday people enjoy fulfilling retirements because of his grandmother, Marcella LaBarge. When her husband, Frank, died suddenly of an aneurysm, she was left totally unprepared to take over their financial life. “My grandma meant the world to me,” LaBarge said. “I wish I could have helped her.”
He originally sought to honor her memory by working in a nursing home, but when he saw how expensive these facilities can be ($8,000-$10,000 a month), he realized his actual calling. “Instead of handing out meds or running the building, I realized the best way was to help people pay for it,” he said. Taking a position with Premier Planning Group was a bold move for LaBarge – he walked away from a corporate job in Minnesota and moved with his wife and children to Severna Park. He had no clients, and nearly everyone else in the industry was at least 10 years his senior. Despite all that, LaBarge held true to the “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” belief that his mother instilled in him, and five years later, he has about 400 clients with whom he maintains a personal working relationship so he can tend to their specific needs.
“Jason’s energy as a person is electric,” explained Jessie Ringle, director of client accounts. “He’s just a magnet. Each client is an individual to him. If he’s sitting in a meeting with you, the time he devotes to you is for you, and he’s passionate about what he does. Those two things together are what make him really successful.”
Providing assistance in the areas of investments, insurance and retirement planning, Premier Planning Group assists clients in every aspect of their financial lives with a “we guide, you decide” approach. LaBarge begins each client relationship with a complimentary consultation during which he strives to understand their life situation above and beyond finances, according to Caroline Harper, director of marketing and relationship management. “When you’re planning for retirement, you have to think about family history, how long your parents lived, your lifestyle and how that may contribute to it,” she said. “He talks to people about that and then creates a plan.” From there, LaBarge is able to adjust the plan so that it stays in line with his clients’ goals as they move forward.
Harper and Ringle, along with Alyssa Obrebski, LaBarge’s executive assistant, make up a support team that shares his vision for helping people toward their retirement goals. “Jason has instilled those values in each of us and has empowered us to do what we need to do to help the client, to go above and beyond for the client,” Harper said.
LaBarge and his team also understand the importance of trust that their clients put in them. “We never stray too far from understanding the weight of what we do every day,” Ringle said. “Establishing trust is one thing. We continue to build trust over a long-term relationship, on an ongoing basis. It’s easy to sit in front of someone and tell them all the right things, and then you don’t see them for a year. We like to say, ‘Hey, how are you? Let’s meet. Let’s review. Let’s make sure the plans we made five years ago still fit for today, because they might not.’ Or maybe your plans change a few years from now. That continued support, whether you’ve been here six months or six years, is important.”
In his seminars, LaBarge emphasizes the importance of “paychecks and playchecks” – in other words, having money set aside to cover necessities, as well as having money for luxuries and experiences a person might have missed out on while working 40 hours a week during their career. He strives to prepare clients for what he likes to call their “go go” years, those years right after retirement when they might keep busy with traveling or other adventures; the “slow go” years, when they aren’t as active; and the “no go” years, when they will likely have increased health care costs.
Despite the misconceptions that might be out there, a person does not need to be a multimillionaire to have a dedicated financial professional help plan their retirement. Harper explained how LaBarge’s clients are largely professional middle-class families whose retirement income comes from pensions, savings and Social Security benefits. In fact, his clientele includes professionals such as press men, engineers and teachers. “Often, people are worried they don’t have enough money to meet with Jason, but we like to invite people to come in and sit down and let’s see what you have,” said Harper. “You may be surprised.”
As part of his role as a managing partner of Premier Planning Group and as a certified National Social Security Advisor, LaBarge often speaks at seminars to educate people about how to maximize their Social Security benefits and about income planning options to help them understand the ins and outs of managing their wealth. He holds social and educational events, such as his annual Fourth of July picnic and mid-year market report, to reconnect with his clients, introduce them to each other, and increase their financial understanding.
LaBarge lends his financial knowledge in volunteer capacities by serving as the treasurer of the Anne Arundel County Coalition to End Homelessness and by sitting on the finance committee at St. John the Evangelist Church. In his spare time, the avid sports fan, antique book collector and Starbucks drinker enjoys spending time with his wife, Lacey, and three sons, Isaac, Xavier and Julian.
Those who are interested in learning more about LaBarge’s services can visit www.jasonlabarge.com or contact him directly by phone at 443-837-2531. LaBarge looks forward to helping others create a retirement plan that includes not just the numbers but also the whole picture of post-career fulfillment. “It’s about more than just the money,” he said. “Anyone can manage a portfolio, but we want to do more than that. … It’s humbling for us, and there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”
Are you approaching retirement and having a hard time deciding when you should claim Social Security? Confused whether you should claim your own benefits, spousal benefits, or survivor benefits in order to receive the most money? Curious how much Social Security will add to your monthly retirement income? LaBarge has created “Learn How YOU Can Claim Social Security to Maximize Your Benefits” to help guide you through the important questions you need to answer before deciding when and how you’ll claim your Social Security benefits. Download your copy at www.jasonlabarge.com/how-to-claim-social-security. If you’d like to meet with LaBarge to discuss your retirement plans, call Alyssa at 443-837-2542 and ask to set up your complimentary consultation today! All consultations are no-obligation.
Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not endorsed by the named broker dealer or its affiliates. All information herein has been prepared solely for informational purposes, and it is not an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security or instrument or to participate in any particular trading strategy.
Premier Planning Group is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC. Premier Planning Group is located at 115 West Street, Suite 400, Annapolis, and can be reached at 443-837-2520.