PODCAST EPISODE 40

From Stock Broker to USAA with Steve Manuel

1x

Employers always say “we value experience”. But as soon as they see gray hair and wrinkles they want someone with “a bit more runway”.

If you’re in your 60’s or above, the odds of landing a great job are against you.

Your safest choice is to stay with your original company. But it’s good to have a back up plan, as today’s guest found out first hand.

At 65+ years old, Steve Manuel’s decades of experience in the finance industry turned into 9 months of joblessness. Now he’s getting paid for his experience, and he’s here to show you how to do the same.

In this episode, you’ll discover how over-65’s can land “mentorship” roles and stay in the workforce (even if it feels impossible to land a job now).

Listen now.

Show Highlights Include:

  • An annual Christian habit for helping your children understand money ([6:03])
  • How to identify a trustworthy financial planner by looking at their pricing structure ([10:22])
  • The “just tell me what to do” principle that lets you find a high-ROI financial planner by trusting your gut ([14:01])
  • How a deep relationship with Christ helps you find your dream job (even when the odds are stacked against you) ([16:52])

 

DLP040 PC - Ex-USAA Team Member Pivots After Age 65 with Steve Manuel

TRANSCRIPT:

Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas—and, now, here’s your host financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.

 

Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. I appreciate you coming today. This show is sponsored by PAX Financial Group, and I want you to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com since they’re sponsoring this show.

Then also I want to make sure you know about our legal disclosure. All this information is general in nature. It’s not intended to provide specific tax, legal or financial advice, so visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

Thank you for tuning in today. I’ve got a friend and a colleague, Steve Manuel. Thank you, Steve, for being here. [01:02].6]

Steve: Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Darryl: Steve is a retiree from USAA and being in San Antonio, USAA, I’m pretty sure outside the military, maybe even including the military, the largest employer in town. Do you think that’s right?

Steve: It’s close if it’s not.

Darryl: Yeah, I mean, you’ve got like H-E-B and Valero, but USAA, when I graduated from St. Mary’s University, that’s the place everyone wanted to get a job. You’ve got to get a job at USAA. I still have never been inside the buildings. What are those buildings like?

Steve: They are big. When I got the tour, I continually heard, “And we are bigger than the Pentagon.”

Darryl: Oh, is that right? Yeah, okay.

Steve: But it’s because of the connectivity between the buildings, so if you look at it all as one and count the underground garages that connect them, then, yes, it has … but it’s interesting how, okay, we’ll look at it this way and then we’re bigger.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: The campus is beautiful, though, I will tell you.

Darryl: So, cafeteria, gyms, all that stuff. [01:57].8]

Steve: [Yes.]

Darryl: Again, I’ve never been in there. It’s kind of strange, but I’ve had plenty of my friends and colleagues, and peers and clients, worked there for years, and, frankly, I know that leadership changes and that’s how life works, but, generally speaking, they’ve treated people well and they’ve created a good work-life balance. They’ve provided resources and great benefits. They’ve done well for people in the community over the years. How long were you at USAA?

Steve: A little over 15 years.

Darryl: Fifteen years, okay.

Steve: And I would completely agree with what you’ve said.

Darryl: Yeah, and again, there’s always murmurs, “It wasn’t the same as General So-and-So when he was running it.” I get that, but that’s just life, but generally speaking, they still … and even their policyholders, if you’re a policyholder of USAA, getting your dividend check each year is gold, and so they’ve treated people well. Being there 15 years, now, we’re going to get into that just a little bit, but before we get into that, let’s rewind the tape. Where are you from originally?

Steve: I am from California. Please don’t hold that against me.

Darryl: Okay.

Steve: But I loved growing up there as a child.

Darryl: Where? Whereabouts in California? [03:00].8]

Steve: Just right in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were over in the suburbs.

Darryl: Okay, I’m trying to think. What’s across? There’s a lovely little town, right across the bridge.

Steve: Sausalito across the Golden Gate, yes.

Darryl: Yeah, but you weren’t over there in Sausalito?

Steve: No, that’s going north.

Darryl: Okay.

Steve: You’d have to go east from San Francisco across the Bay, which would be the Oakland–San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Darryl: Okay, gotcha.

Steve: And then over the hills. The Bay is set in a circle of hills, and then, just on the other side of those hills, which is only 15 miles maybe the way the crow flies. But I had 15 years on a little ranch about 30 acres, that close to the city, but we had some cattle and some chickens, and so it was very different. The house was built in the 1840s. It was an adobe house.

Darryl: Huh.

Steve: It’s a historical landmark now for California.

Darryl: Huh, oh my gosh. Okay, so I want to go there, but I need to know a little bit. Mom and Dad worked?

Steve: Dad did. Dad did. I didn’t know what he did, growing up. He was a CFA and he got his designation in the early ’60s. He was number 626. I have that on his certificate at home in my den. [04:09].8]

Darryl: For those that are, don’t know what a CFA is, which many people don’t –

Steve: Correct.

Darryl: – it’s a chartered financial analyst. Now I’m thinking, is it certified financial? No, it’s chartered financial.

Steve: It’s chartered. It’s chartered.

Darryl: I was questioning myself. A chartered financial analyst is one of the most rigorous examinations in the whole money business.

Steve: Still is, still is.

Darryl: Still is, yeah, and your responsibility is to do one of three things, and that either looks at the fundamentals of a company to determine if the cash flow statement is right and then the other is to determine the valuation. That’s the second thing you could do, it is evaluate it, and the third thing is to look at trends. Those are typically the three elements of an analyst, and then they find niches in all of those and then they go even deeper and you can do small cap or you can do industries. I say all that because there’s a, I mean, dear to that space, I think if you say you’re a CFA, I know what you’ve had to do to get there. I also know that you can make some good money. Did you grow up with, I mean, reasonable income? [05:08].0]

Steve: Yes, yes, I mean, childhood, I thoroughly enjoyed growing up and all the way through college.

Darryl: What a blessing.

Steve: It was a fun time for me.

Darryl: Now, I don’t know this. Did he work for Transamerica?

Steve: No, he did not.

Darryl: Who did he work for? Because that’s the big one I think of in San Francisco.

Steve: The Pyramid. 

Darryl: The Pyramid, yeah.

Steve: Right. There’s the Bank of America with the big black building. He got his MBA at Cal Berkeley, and while he was doing that, he was at Fireman’s Fund. Then what happened was, once he got his MBA, he was hired by Lee J. Kaiser and they started ISI Insurance Securities Incorporated. They invested exclusively in insurance companies. It was a mutual fund of insurance companies, of all kinds, all around the world.

Darryl: Great cash flow, I mean, yeah.

Steve: It was, yes, and I did not know any of this at the time. We ended up working in the brokerage business together for a while and that’s when I learned all about that <crosstalk>. [06:02].8]

Darryl: That’s what Warren buffet did about that time, you know what I mean, the GEICO.

Steve: Yeah, they owned …

Darryl: GEICO, yeah.

Steve: Yes.

Darryl: Growing up with an, I’m assuming, above-average income household, but your dad is in the money business. I know he is busy because the CFA, they didn’t have computers at that time. They did stuff totally differently. But did he ever sit down and talk to you about money, like, Okay, here’s how money works?

Steve: He was also a bishop in the church, and so I learned stewardship from Dad.

Darryl: Did you?

Steve: We filed our tithing statements annually and, yeah, I would get down to where I would record, to the penny, things that I would spend during the day.

Darryl: Is that right?

Steve: So, it’s kind of ingrained in me.

Darryl: How old was that when you were doing that?

Steve: I think I had my first tithing statement at seven or eight years old, nine years old, yeah.

Darryl: I’m just very pleased to know that they’re Christians in San Francisco and I know there still are. I’m sure somebody will beat me up and send me an email over that. But the idea behind being early in San Francisco before it exploded was probably pretty cool because I’m sure it was beautiful. [07:05].6]

Steve: Oh yeah.

Darryl: And so, did you have any brothers and sisters?

Steve: I had two brothers, one older one six years younger, and a sister eight years younger.

Darryl: Okay, gotcha. So, you grow up in San Francisco, a little adobe house, a historical ranch, 30 acres, I can only imagine how awesome it was. Then when you were done with high school, what did you decide to do after that?

Steve: I went to a small college in Iowa.

Darryl: But that makes a lot of sense. Iowa. You’re in beautiful San Francisco and you’re going to go to Iowa. I mean, again, Iowa, I like Iowa, but tell me why Iowa.

Steve: It was actually the church that I grew up in. Graceland College was the college that they sponsored and Dad was on the board of that college.

Darryl: I see, yeah.

Steve: I wrestled, my brothers. We wrestled all through high school. We had partial scholarships to the college and it was just something that we kind of grew up with, with the Grayson college bibs.

Darryl: Oh, I see.

Steve: And I’m a Graceland College Yellowjacket. [08:03].0]

Darryl: Kind of like Aggies, yeah.

Steve: Yeah, there you go. See, hey, Texas cannot expunge themselves from this conversation, because they do the same thing.

Darryl: We’re people, yeah.

Steve: It was just a small college. I loved it, and friends to this day, I mean, many of them.

Darryl: You wrestled.

Steve: I did.

Darryl: Yeah, very cool. Then you’re in college and you’ve obviously seen your dad have some success. Is that why you went into the financial business?

Steve: No, I grew up, I did not know what I wanted to do, so I was one that relationships, and friendships were important to me. I figured at that point, just out of honoring my parents because they paid for my college, all the kids’ colleges, I had to do something that was in my major. My major, I got a double major in business administration and economics, and I started with a brokerage firm out in San Francisco.

Darryl: Which brokerage firm was that?

Steve: Actually, it’s still there today, Pflueger & Baerwald.

Darryl: Are they really? Okay.

Steve: They’re a boutique firm. They’ve never done any advertising. It was old San Francisco money. They started in 1904, and 220 Montgomery Street was where I had started. It was one of the first steel-reinforced buildings built before the earthquake and it withstood the earthquake, so that kind of said, yeah, we probably ought to build more buildings like this. [09:18].5]

Darryl: That’s cool. You guys started in the financial business. What were you doing?

Steve: I learned the business from the bottom up and the inside out. I started out as kind of the gopher. I spent some time down on the floor of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange.

Darryl: It’s like Wall Street. This is like Gordon Gekko stuff.

Steve: Yes, it is, and Ernst Neuberger, the president and owner at the time, we would walk in and it was maybe 10 people. They had little gates you’d push aside to walk back to his desk. It was like walking into the Old West because you had the cage on the right side, which was all the frosted glass and you would take your [bonds]. Clients would bring their bonds and their certificates in, and, yeah, it was fascinating. I learned.

Darryl: That’s cool, yeah.

Steve: We had one of two ticker tapes that Western Union still serviced and this was 1975.

Darryl: No kidding, that’s cool, and I tend to be a student of Wall Street and the money, American history with money, and so I find that history to be fascinating. For some people who are listening, it’s okay, but I find it fascinating, right? [10:17].3]

Steve: Right.

Darryl: I’m jumping way ahead now, okay? How in the world did you get to USAA in San Antonio? 

Steve: I basically have kind of a 15-year cycle, I guess because I was 15 years in the brokerage business and that’s when I got my CFP designation, came to a point where I said I was believing that buy and hold was the way to go, not trading, because I had really built a book up on trading, and I said, “I don’t want to rebuild a book.” I talked with my wife and we said, “Yeah, I need to find something else,” and I ended up having a friend that got me an interview with Safeco and I became a marketing rep. Fifteen years at Safeco, worked my way up and actually got up to the home office and spent some time as an executive up there for about six years. [11:02].3]

Then when the company was sold, the life company was sold in the early 2000s, about 2005, I ended up needing to look because they cut our division, and that’s when I ended up saying, “Okay, are we going to go where the jobs are or go where family is?” We had some family down here, so we prayed about it, came down here, and ended up getting the job with USAA in their Financial Advice Center and then moved over to Financial Planning, and at the time they were really doing, I thought, the way financial planning should be done. They were offering fee-only plans.

Darryl: Yeah. I’m going to talk a little bit about that. For those that have just tuned in, you’re getting a special treat with Steve Manuel he’s a veteran in the business and he retired from USAA.

You’re listening to Retire in Texas, and if you need to speak to a financial advisor, it doesn’t cost anything, it’s a complimentary, service that we offer. It’s 15 minutes. You just have to text “Texas” to the number 74868. That’s “Texas” to 74868. [12:04].5]

What year was that, more or less, when you went to USAA?

Steve: I started in October 2005.

Darryl: Okay, 2005. Yeah, the financial planning industry was really starting to get some footing about that time and I do know that USAA was a leader in that space, namely, because I think they hadn’t had a lot of legacy systems processes in the planning space so they could kind of say, “Where are things going?” and they were able to create it, and I really admire them because what they did was they focused on the consumer and then hired people who cared versus kind of the traditional Wall Street salespeople.

Steve: [Yes.]

Darryl: Right? And so, they had this whole fleet of people who cared about financial planning. They paid them a salary with some incentives.

Steve: Right.

Darryl: And it just created a very healthy culture. There weren’t these big, huge conflicts of interest in USAA. A lot of people don’t know, I mean, they really set the standard for advice. From my perspective, I thought they were doing it beautifully. What were you doing over at USAA? [13:07].4]

Steve: With the Financial Advice Center, that was kind of the ground level for members. We didn’t call them clients.

Darryl: That’s right, yeah.

Steve: We called them members, and they would call in and they might have a financial question, which then they would get directly routed to the FAC, or they would call in to talk about life insurance or property casualty insurance, and then they would say, “Have you done a financial plan yet?” If they acted interested or they didn’t know anything about it and they wanted to learn more, they’d get transferred over to the FAC and then we talked to them about a plan or answer whatever questions they had and sign them up, and then the plans would go over and be done by a financial planner in Financial Planning.

Darryl: That makes sense.

Steve: And so, after about two years in the FAC, my passion was and has always been financial planning, so I moved over onto the financial planning side in a leadership position and I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Darryl: And so, you were reviewing financial plans. Is that what you were doing? [14:04].3]

Steve: Yes, I led a team of planners and would coach and mentor them, and they would work with the members. I mean, that was really a place because USAA had a niche in the military and the core values of the military, the core values of USAA, they matched.

Darryl: That’s right.

Steve: What was most valuable, I thought, and it’s similar here at PAX, the trust that the clients have at PAX, the trust that the members had in USAA, “Just tell me what to do,” and that’s so powerful.

Darryl: Yeah, that’s a good point because you would think that everyone there was active military, but there was a large group of people that just shared the same values, which is a love for our country and respect for mankind in a lot of ways, and the patriotism, I think it was an important element of USAA. They supported a lot of Wounded Warrior Projects and everything else, but do you still keep in touch with some of the people that you’ve had relationships with? [15:00].0]

Steve: I do. That was the most valuable experience at USAA, the people.

Darryl: Yeah, I bet.

Steve: The people and those that were on my team, those that were colleagues, and to this day, yes, definitely keep in touch with them. Many of them worked with the local Financial Planning Association Chapters, so we’ve got in leadership within the industry as well and want to pay it forward.

Darryl: Right, that makes sense. When did you leave USAA? How long ago? What year?

Steve: That was June 2020.

Darryl: How did you know you were ready and it was time?

Steve: Sometimes you’re ready. Sometimes you’re told to leave.

Darryl: Yeah.

Steve: When the company is sold and USAA is keeping some, some are going to Schwab and then some are released to their destiny, and so I was in that bucket.

Darryl: Yeah, so basically, you didn’t carry clients.

Steve: No.

Darryl: For those that stuck, most of them had client relationships. I mean, many of them did.

Steve: Many of them did and they were certainly in the management level that went as well, so, yes, it was. [16:05].8]

Darryl: That’s a key element for retention, right? I’m like, Okay, Steve, you don’t have any clients? Okay, Steve goes on this list. The ones that have clients. But for those that don’t know, USAA, had a very attractive, respected financial planning division, one in which PAX has modeled much of USAA. I’ve been watching them from afar forever and that’s why it feels the same because I’ve been watching them.

But they decided that that’s not the business that they’re going to stay in, and so they wanted to be in the auto and PNC business. That’s their core competency, so they sold two portions of their business, the asset management to Victory Capital, which has a location in San Antonio, and then the financial planning division, they sold to Charles Schwab –

Steve: Right.

Darryl: – which has a big regional office in Dallas. Then many people, to your point, it was time. I mean, they basically had too many people. But you didn’t jump into the employment circle right away. You kind of took your time looking for the right fit, right? [17:00].5]

Steve: Yes.

Darryl: Yeah? So, what were you looking for?

Steve: After kind of exhaling, it was “What do I want to do?” There was being a man of faith and my wife is equally passionate about her relationship with Christ that prayer was a part of it, and we looked. We prayed and we looked, and, actually, my first pass took about nine months, but I was pursuing something that I’d never even dreamed of. Yes, that took up nine months, and in the end, I was told, and I don’t know how well I did, but I was told I was one of the final three and I just didn’t cross the finish line first.

Then, from there, it was, okay, let’s start looking then within the business, but at my age, I’ll just say this, I’m over 65, I was definitely one of the oldest, and when I’d last looked for work 15 years earlier, I was in my early fifties. That’s considered, hey, you’re still pretty desirable. You’ve got a good runway, a length of runway still ahead of you. [18:03].8]

I think we hear people say, “Yes, we value wisdom. We value experience.” Wisdom comes from experience and knowledge, and experience comes from good decisions and a lot of bad decisions, failures, and I felt like I had a lot to give, but it was just finding the right fit and that was the hardest part. Looking over 65 is a whole lot different than looking in your early fifties.

Darryl: That’s a great point. So, you had support from your spouse.

Steve: [Yes.]

Darryl: Okay, and so where did you end up?

Steve: I ended up … You didn’t give me any clue you were going to ask that. I ended up right here. I choose to believe it was a God thing because of the culture of PAX, the people. It just feels like home and that’s where I think we’re back to where it was when I joined USAA and it’s kind of back to the future, because I felt at the time USAA was way ahead, and then they made the choice to go more, which is where they ended up, at Schwab, which is more the broker-dealer version of financial planning. [19:08].2]

At PAX, we’re doing advice and planning and we ride the whole length of time from when you start to when you finish, and I’ve never seen an employee handbook that had Christ-centered culture in it and I think that is so powerful for me. That spoke volumes.

Darryl: Yeah, to be clear to everyone, Steve Manuel works now at PAX. We were able to bring him over and bring his talent and his experience and his wisdom to help provide insight into not only the direction we’re going, but some of the technical stuff, so he walks.

His role is to walk alongside our financial advisors, and it’s not a big brother role at all. It’s a mentoring role, so “Hey, can I help look at a plan? Can we talk about this client? Maybe I can ask you questions,” and so what he does is he walks alongside the advisors and just makes sure that they have everything they need to really help clients. It’s a super exciting role and we’re honored to have you here at PAX. [20:02].0]

Steve: Thank you. I feel like, now that I’m just coming up to the 90 days where I can actually say, “Okay, now I’m on the team. Now I can really start to kind of spread my wings and do more of that,” but, yeah, the 90 days are like the gestation period of it.

Darryl: It is. Yeah, it is.

Steve: I’m almost official just in another week, one more week.

Darryl: This podcast will be aired by the time, and then you’ll be official. Last and most important question I’ve got to ask is, what’s your favorite salsa?

Steve: Oh, okay, the salsa, the grilled, any salsa that’s got the grilled peppers, tomatoes, that taste. But then, I’m a guy that likes to mix things together and I love guacamole and salsas, so with a little avocado. I mean, if you’re going to give me a chip, I want the salsa and the guacamole there because I will double dip.

Darryl: Yeah.

Steve: Yeah. But, no, I like that grilled on medium, not hot, but I’m mild to medium.

Darryl: Mamacita’s, they bring you three different [options]. It’s not guacamole, but they bring you three different [options] and I like mixing it, so I get you, yeah.

Steve: Yes.

Darryl: Cool. Thank you again for being here. This has been a pleasure and joy, and it’s the first time we’ve ever had or I guess maybe the second time we’ve had somebody. We had Justin talk about Medicare, so if anybody’s listening and they want to hear about Medicare, we’ve got a current employee and partner. Now we’ve got you here, our second. Thank you for being here. [21:17].8]

Steve: Thank you. Hey, thanks for tuning in to Retire in Texas. Hope you enjoyed this time together. Be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com, and then if you want to speak to an advisor, just text the word “Texas” to the number 74868. And remember that you think differently when you think long-term. Have a great day.

 

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