Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goal Setting in Retirement

That day when you look at your spouse and realize that you’ve accomplished everything you set out to accomplish after you retired?  Yeah, that’s happened. 

For those of you whose goal is to retire, be advised:  retirement is a doorway, not a destination.  When we retired we knew we would buy a trailer and work as campground hosts for five years.  During this time we would continue to become totally debt-free by reinvesting most of our rental income back into the properties.

Fast forward four years, five months, and three days, and here we are.  We decided to give up camp hosting after the summer of 2015 and learned that we quite enjoy camping without cleaning toilets.  All our rental properties are paid for.  Our hard work helping our son and daughter-in-law plan and execute their wedding culminated in a beautiful October 1 celebration.   And we have set no additional goals.

So now what do we want to do?  Travel?  Downsize?  Buy a summer home (or in our case, a winter home)?  Just for fun, I looked through an attempt at a “Bucket List” written in 2004 (eight years before we retired, and three years before we started calling them Bucket Lists).  There are 33 items on the list. 
#1 is to write and publish a novel. I’m working on it.  I’ve been working on it since 2012.  I’m on Chapter 31. 
#2 is to own two condos – one in SLC and one someplace warm.

Of the remaining 31 items, 13 are places I want to travel to (2 accomplished), 6 are things I’d like to do with my time (2 accomplished), 2 are things I’d like to learn, 3 are places I’d like to sing (2 accomplished), 2 are places I’d like to volunteer (1 accomplished), 2 are items I’ve since decided I never want to do, and the rest are pretty random .  Things like owning another pug, giving the kids nice weddings, and running a 5K.  Yes, I did write 5K.  How was I to know what an avid runner I would become?   So far I’ve accomplished 11 ½ of the 33 items on my list.

Just for fun, I shared the list with my husband.  He agreed with me that traveling more and trading in the big house for two smaller houses were ideas worth considering.  Maybe it’s time to transform these from the bucket list to actual goals that we can work on together.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Carrot vs. Stick

At the height of the burst of the housing bubble and the “too big to fail” debacle, I worked for what was then the 8th largest bank in the U.S.  At the time, Wells Fargo was one of the good guys.  We knew that lending money to people who couldn’t afford to pay it back was bad for business, and according to those I worked with who knew the mortgage business, we turned away a lot of money because of this.  We paid back the “bailout” money.  And we grew to be the 2nd biggest bank in the U.S.

Fast forward eight years and the shocking revelation that so many Wells Fargo bankers created fraudulent accounts in order to meet sales goals.  5300+ were fired.  The head of Retail Banking retired.  And just a few days ago, CEO John Stumpf announced his immediate resignation. 

I am saddened by the fact that the company who treated me very well as an employee did not treat the customers who keep the bank in business quite as well.  And I’m more saddened for the Retail bankers, most of them honest and hardworking, who are likely taking the brunt of the fallout.  And I can’t help but wonder…

First – a disclaimer.  I’ve never worked in Retail banking.  The hypothesis I’m about to put into words is mine alone.  And it is this:  Wells Fargo Bank used to have a wonderful reward for high performing employees called the Sales and Service Conference.  Salespeople earned their way to this conference by meeting and exceeding sales goals.  Service people like me earned their way by being recommended by other departments for exemplary service.  The conference was an honor to attend – and a lot of fun!

My first Sales and Service Conference, held in the Bahamas was themed, A Culture of Legendary Excellence. I met a phone banker who was attending for her seventh time.  She worked hard every year to meet her sales goals and was rewarded.  But there were many more first-timers like me who were awestruck at the way Wells Fargo leadership honored us “little people” who were the “heart and soul of the company.”  The culmination of a long weekend of recognition and inspiration was walking across the stage to receive a medal from the CEO.

I attended two more times.  The last time I attended was in 2008.  John Stumpf presented my medal.  I shook his hand.  He seemed genuinely pleased to be there.  Later that year the company announced that it would be doing away with Sales and Service Conference, as it appeared to the outside world to be a boondoggle for highly paid executives.  In the climate of bailouts, buyouts, and out and out failures, no financial institution should get away with such frivolity.

That frivolity, however, seemed to be a significant incentive for bankers to meet their sales goals.  Sure, the executives were there, but they were there to encourage, support and honor those who had excelled at their jobs.  I wonder – in making the decision to do away with the conference, did we lose a part of our “culture of legendary excellence?”  I wonder – would the now-fired bankers have turned to fraud to meet sales goals if instead of threats such as reduced compensation or even job loss, an incentive were on the table?

I wonder – but I’ll never know.