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The Planning Great Retirements Manifesto

by Jeremy Kisner

For the past 15 years, I have helped clients make better financial decisions. Along the way, I have written a book, earned many of the most recognized designations in financial services (CFP, CPWA, CLU), and developed a loyal and growing following on my weekly blog. But something was still missing.

Money alone does not make people happy

Many of my clients were not living a life they loved. I began to ask myself: “What is the point of saving, budgeting, and investing for the future if it doesn’t make you happy?” Financial security is a big piece of the happiness puzzle…but it is not the only piece.

People who have money, but are still unhappy, are not following what’s in their hearts. They are doing the things they think they “should be doing.” At some point, it’s time to start living the life you want, pursuing the hobbies and activities you enjoy, and spending time only in the relationships that bring you fulfillment. Sometimes everyone must make sacrifices and delay gratification. However, if you are retired or entering retirement, what are you waiting for?

Change and happiness:

One of my clients recently told me that she had discovered the meaning of life. I couldn’t wait to hear what she would say next. Then she told me, “There is no meaning. You have a limited amount of time on this earth, so enjoy it. Stop worrying about stupid stuff and just have fun.” Everyone may not agree with her philosophy, but it got me thinking, Why don’t people make the changes that could make them happy?

Three reasons people don’t change:

1) They do not know what their goals are and which ones are most important to them.
2) They are living their lives based on unproductive feelings of guilt and outdated messages (typically from their childhood).
3) They fear change.

Well-being requires three things:

Well-being is like a three-legged stool that is only stable if you have physical health, financial health, and emotional health. I will leave the physical health to the doctors and your own diet and exercise decisions. However, the emotional and financial health are too intertwined to be separated. Couples fight over money, and the resulting anger, distrust, and frustration destroy their intimacy. People stay in jobs that demoralize them because they think they “need” the money.

I shied away from these emotional issues because they are hard. Who I am to tell people how to fix their marriages, or whether they should sell their houses or quit their jobs? I am not a therapist, and frankly, I feared getting in over my head.

Life Planning & Financial Planning go hand-in-hand:

Then something happened…. I heard an interview with George Kinder. George is considered the father of the life-planning industry. I was more than a little skeptical when I first learned about financial life coaching. I have never been the touchy-feely type and I am not easily swayed by “motivational” speakers. However, the things George was saying about the benefits of incorporating life coaching into financial planning made a lot of sense.

I began to do my research. One thing I learned was that people are 40% more likely to become clinically depressed soon after they retire. Say what? Retirement is a time everyone looks forward to. A time when you are no longer dependent on an employer or business, and hopefully, your children are no longer dependent on you. Retirement should be the time of maximum freedom. Instead, a fair number of retirees struggle with the transition and spend years feeling anxious, bored, or depressed. I knew this was a problem that could be fixed (in many cases) with a little bit of life coaching.

I dug deeper. I read every book I could on the topic and went to financial life coaching trainings around the country. Eventually, I developed my own system specific to helping people smoothly transition into a fulfilling retirement.

I knew this would become my niche. This is how my company, Planning Great Retirements, is going to make a difference in the world…one client at a time.


Chief Planning Officer

Jeremy is a lover of all things finance. He likes to play poker, go camping, and practice yoga, but he loves to talk economics and investment strategies even more. That means you probably won’t find him in the workshop, baking a cake, or even on the court shooting free-throws. Instead (if you twist his arm), he might share his highly rated book, A Good Financial Advisor Will Tell You (4.6 stars on Amazon) or an article quoting him in Barron’s or The Wall Street Journal. Jeremy and his wife Angela have three beautiful girls (Chloe, Gracie & Maya) who thankfully look like their mother.

Jeremy has a degree in Economics from UC Santa Barbara, a handful of professional designations (CFP®, CPWA®, CLU®), and has been trained in Retirement Life Planning by both Money Quotient and The Kinder Institute.

robert j. luna, CIMA

Chief Investment Officer

Robert Luna eats, sleeps, and breathes investment markets. He is the type of guy you could wake up at 3:00 a.m. with a hypothetical scenario (e.g., China devalued its currency) and he would immediately know what stocks to trade. Fortunately, we never have to wake him up because he wakes himself up twice a night to check how foreign markets opened. When Robert is not researching and building investment portfolios, he is probably at one of his two favorite places, Dodger Stadium or Disneyland, with his daughter (Bella) and wife (Mia). If Robert looks familiar, you probably recognize him from his frequent appearances on CNBC, FOX Business, and Bloomberg, but who’s counting?

Robert serves on the Wisdom Tree RIA advisory board and is an alumnus of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Anderson School of Business at UCLA.


Trading & Compliance

Brandon Nachman is known around the office as Mr. Detail because every “i” must be dotted and “t” be crossed. In short, “That’s close enough” is not in his vocabulary. This is why he is a natural—no supernatural—fit to oversee trading and compliance. When he is not hounding his colleagues for reports or pushing back paperwork that isn’t perfect, Brandon can be found with his wife Elizabeth or playing with their two beautiful children (Leray and Benjamin). Brandon enjoys exercise, traveling, and being outdoors (except for the three months each year when it is 110 here in Phoenix).

Brandon is an alumni of Northern Arizona University.

clay darland

Technology & Operations

Clay is the guy in our office who gets the most hugs and high-fives. He is a technology whiz who seems to know every software and can fix just about anything. Clay spends his time building software robots to automate and streamline processes, ensuring all data is backed up and secure, engineering software integrations, and developing/maintaining websites. He is also, hands down, the most enthusiastic member of the team and winner of the “Best Attitude” award. His most typical responses to any challenges or requests are: “How can I help?”, “That’s incredible,” “Let’s do this,” “I’m on the case,” or “I can absolutely take care of that for you.” When Clay is not working, he is usually reading about something work-related. Clay also lights up when you ask him about his family (son Jaxon and wife Krystal), Phoenix Suns basketball, or his tattoos.


Client Services

Moriah may be the hardest-working person on our team, and she is almost always the last one to leave the office. Somehow, she never seems stressed or overwhelmed, and she amazes her colleagues with her attention to detail and follow up. Moriah grew up in rural Maine, where she decided she was “over” the snow and cold weather. She moved to the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix) when she was twenty-five and never looked back…although, if her family is reading this, she misses you all terribly. When Moriah is not at the office, she is probably at the gym or the gym again. She typically exercises twice a day. (Can you say A+ personality type?)

Moriah has a degree in Business Administration from Husson University.


Head of Security

Max slobbers the most and smells the worst of anyone in the office.  He is constantly napping or wanting to go for a walk.  To make matters worse, he has no discernable skills and barks at other employees.

Ok, ok…we’re kidding.  We don’t really have a dog named Max, but this picture made us laugh.