Joe Craw, CFS®, LUTCF, FSS is a man on a mission. As a registered representative for PlanMember Securities Corporation, Joe works with teachers, principals, superintendents, custodians and school bus drivers employed in the Maryland public school system. "I love working with school clientele, because they are just like me: average people, married with kids, trying to do the best they can with limited salaries," Joe said.
In 1995, while advising a 24-year-old teacher, Joe learned there was a big problem in the offerings for 403(b) participants. According to Joe, “There were a lot of variable annuity choices, but not many mutual funds. I thought the school system was being underserved or ill-served, since most planners are looking for bigger fish.” And so Joe’s mission began.
Joe believes that TRAK has dramatically improved the value he provides to clients. He calls TRAK a “real shortcut.” According to Joe, “Clients have more of a reason to keep me as an advisor. I run through their report in every review.” Joe also believes his consistent use of TRAK has given clients a more accurate picture of their retirement plan the longer they’ve worked with him. “This software helps me answer questions. And I imply that this tool is one we’ll use for tracking their retirement for the rest of their career,” Joe said with enthusiasm.
Given his client base, Joe often runs into clients in school hallways. “I bring TRAK with me everywhere! I tell my clients that if they see me walking down the hall with my computer bag, they can stop me and I’ll show them where they are in their retirement planning. It’s so portable,” says Joe.
Before discovering TRAK, Joe used a yellow pad to demonstrate retirement planning principles. “That was very basic compared to this software’s graphical presentation, which explains key components. Red and orange bars clearly show shortfalls. TRAK also shows all the possible ways to correct the shortfall,” explained Joe. “And it allows me to isolate each factor, such as the effect of saving more money from each paycheck, moving the retirement date back, or making different inflation rate assumptions.”
Joe believes that TRAK’s ability to consolidate all of his clients’ retirement data is the real key to its power. “TRAK shows whether you are on track for retirement. The software calculates the state pension benefit and I can add Social Security benefits and any other investments, it will then show me a complete picture of whether we’re on track to meet our goals,” says Joe. “Consolidation of all this data is reassuring and that’s the key.”
Once Joe’s clients can clearly see the full picture of their retirement plan, they often increase their savings. “Clients will say to me, ‘Are you telling me that if I save an extra $40 per paycheck, I can retire at 57?’ And then, when I tell them ‘Yes,’ they say ‘Let’s do that!’ They get very enthusiastic about saving,” laughs Joe.
“TRAK software revitalized my career. It has given me hope and optimism that I can be a great representative for my clients. When I go out to see clients or prospects, I know that no one will do a better job than I will,” said Joe.