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The Art of Retirement Paperback – September 16, 2013
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"I highly recommend this book as an enjoyable journey in understanding The Art of Retirement, written by a passionate financial services industry expert. The connections between Michelangelo and Gary's personal experience provide a comprehensive review of the investment process in an easy-to-follow format that can be valuable at all stages of an individual's financial life, from beginner to expert. We will utilize Gary's book for our corporate retirement planning course to help guide employees seeking a successful investment plan."
--James Gibeaut, CPA Controller, Enterprise Holdings
"Books on investing are, like leadership books, often written from the perspective of a single individual and that person's idiosyncratic point of view. In The Art of Retirement, Gary Williams steps back and asks the reader to think more broadly about his or her life, and how retirement and one's financial goals fit into a larger whole. He then takes that broader perspective and walks you through an analytical framework that makes sense and clarifies what can often be a confusing set of choices."
--John K. Hoey, President and CEO, Y of Central Maryland
"Where you stand is a function of where you sit. Do you know where you stand on your readiness for retirement? Sit, read and learn where you stand. A must read for anyone contemplating retirement."
-J.P. Bolduc, Chairman and CEO, JPB Partners
"Gary Williams takes the challenging subject of financial planning and creates a thought-provoking, easy-to-understand, and incredibly enjoyable reading experience. This is a book that would live as comfortably in the motivational section of a bookstore as the business section. For anyone who believes financial planning is daunting, this book will take them on a rewarding journey through the process of creating a financial legacy."
--Carrie Bertuccio, Chief Operating Officer, Claar Advisors LLC
"The Art of Retirement is a must-read for anyone over 40! As a 30-year veteran in the industry, I will put to use many of the principles immediately."
--Jon Sundt, President and CEO, Altegris Investments
This well-written, comprehensive guide by a financial planner paints retirement in a new light.
The key difference between Gary Williams’ engaging book about retirement and so many others written on the subject is the author’s perspective: He believes that to enjoy retirement, everyone must create a life that is a “masterpiece.” Williams points to Michelangelo as a prime example of an artist who, “created masterpieces, but also understood that his own life was a masterpiece and, at the same time, a work in progress.”Williams uses the art metaphor effectively throughout The Art of Retirement, which is divided into two distinct sections: “Creating Your Masterpiece” and “The Art of Investing.” In the first part, Williams writes eloquently about making choices in life and maintaining perspective. He doles out insightful advice about finding a purpose in retirement, acknowledging that as much as fifty percent of prospective retirees plan to continue working in retirement. “The key,” Williams advises, “is to retire to something, not from something.”
One of the more interesting topics in the first part of the book is something the author calls “legacy planning.” With a great deal of sensitivity, he discusses leaving a legacy in the broadest sense, not just financially, but spiritually. The notion of passing along one’s sense of values to future generations is rarely addressed in a book whose primary focus is investing. For this, the author deserves credit. Williams, a certified financial planner, closes the first part of the book with an excellent chapter offering several helpful “rules of thumb” that helps guide the reader in financially planning for retirement, along with an objective discussion of why and how to choose a financial planner.
The second part of the book is not unlike other financially focused retirement books. Williams provides a detailed discussion of financial concepts, such as risk and diversification, and he offers his own analysis of how to invest in turbulent economic times. While this section contains information commonly found elsewhere, Williams’ presentation of the material is what sets his book apart. The author’s ability to express complex ideas in simple terms is impressive. He writes well and makes even dry facts seem interesting. He wisely continues to employ the art metaphor as a way of anchoring the content to a central concept.
The text is augmented with charts and graphs, each carefully explained. Subheads, bullets, and highlighted text are used judiciously to facilitate reading. Throughout each chapter, Williams calls out “key points” with boxed-in text, aiding in scanning and comprehension. At the end of the book, the author includes a helpful dictionary of definitions, as well as several useful tools, such as a “retirement vision questionnaire” and a budget template to document income and expenses.
Williams has done a masterful job of presenting an elegantly constructed, comprehensive, unbiased view of what readers need to think about, personally and financially, as they head toward retirement. The fact that the author intends to donate 100 percent of the profits from the book to charitable causes further reinforces his character and credibility. This is a book that should prove valuable to anyone approaching retirement.
Financial planner Williams offers solid retirement planning advice using examples from the life of Michelangelo.
There’s actually an “art” to planning for retirement, Williams writes, and throughout his book, he cites one of the world’s most celebrated artists as an example of someone who financed a great lifestyle well into his retirement years. For example, he notes that Michelangelo was past 70 when he got the job as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica. Like Michelangelo, he writes, investors have to be discriminating in their choices of which experts to follow, and the author is not a fan of one-size-fits-all financial advisers on television, calling CBNC’s Jim Cramer and Suze Orman financial “entertainers.” Although this premise may initially sound gimmicky, Williams has a larger concept in mind, devoting half his book to personal values and half to investing. In the first section, he cites 2005 research showing that baby boomers are much more interested in learning about their parents’ ethics and faith than about their parents’ financial assets, so Williams offers the idea of an “ethical will,” a non–legally binding document which can help people pass along their moral values to their children. The book’s second half offers more traditional retirement planning advice, such as how to determine risk tolerance and build the right investment portfolio. Williams notes that too many retirees are afflicted with information overload; when there are too many financial choices—or too many choices that are too similar—it can lead to investment paralysis. For readers who want a professional adviser’s help, Williams suggests avoiding those who claim to have cornered the market on results: “Does the advisor brag about market-beating results year after year? If so, get up and walk out.” Overall, the author writes in clear, simple language, only rarely veering into jargon. Despite a few typos and occasional unnecessary preludes, his advice is easily digestible without being dumbed down. Appendices include questionnaires that will likely aid those ready to start planning.
An engaging guide aimed at retirees but packed with practical advice that even 20- and 30-somethings might use.
From the Author
100% of the profits from The Art of Retirement are divided among the following charities:
- 33% - The Brigance Brigade Foundation; ALS-related
- 33% - Augie's Quest; ALS-related
- 17% - MD SPCA; animal welfare related
- 17% - Y of Central Maryland; specifically to help disadvantaged youth attend summer camps
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For a meaningful and valuable introduction to the basics of investing with a theme for personal growth, meaning, and development, I can't think of a more interesting and informative narrative. When you complete the work, you will have a better idea of what is really important to you and what you can do to identify and accomplish your "life's Masterpiece."