Financial Planning for Your Retirement with Echo Huang

Jan. 27, 2021

Financial Planning for Your Retirement with Echo Huang

Financial Planning for Your Retirement with Echo Huang

“Probably the most common problem is that people simply don’t have any plan at all. If you ask someone what is their net worth, and if they know how much they need to accumulate before they can retire, sometimes the person can’t answer these simple questions.” - Echo Huang 

Today’s Brave By Design expert guest is on a mission to let people know that wealth management isn’t just for the wealthy. You don’t have to be wealthy to start managing wealth, and you can start growing it right now from where you stand. However it will take a solid plan, which she shares more about on this episode. 

Echo Huang is a financial planner with CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation and over 25 years of experience in the financial services and accounting industries. She helps executives and entrepreneurs in Minneapolis and St. Paul take the complexity out of their personal and business finances. Born and raised in China, she came to the United States with $800 in her pocket in hopes of pursuing – and achieving – the American dream. Through higher learning, continued education, and hard work, she gained valuable experience and extensive knowledge about wealth management, investment strategies, and tax planning. After years of working as an accountant, a financial advisor and partnering with other financial firms, she founded Echo Wealth Management in 2015. Echo is the author of Own Your Future: One Woman’s Story of Immigration and Financial Freedom.

As Echo states in this episode, she wants to be a financial guru for many people, even if she cannot serve as a financial advisor for every person. I think you’re going to learn so much from the financial tips and advice she gives in this informative conversation, which is why I’m so excited to share it with you today. 

Connect with Echo: http://ownyourfuture.guru/

Remember to hit SUBSCRIBE wherever you listen to podcasts! 

What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • Echo's own story of growing up, and how she became a success in the field of finance [4:44]

  • The ways in which she grew from the confidence set before her by her mother [13:05]

  • What the motivation was for Echo to write her book, Own Your Future [18:39]

  • What she considers to be the four major problems people often have when planning for their financial future [21:06]

Additional Links & Resources: 

Get Echo’s Book, Own Your Future 

Connect with Her on LinkedIn

Echo’s Facebook, Twitter & Instagram


Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
Echo Huang:

Probably the most common problem is people simply don't have any plan at all. It's more like, you know, you ask question, what is your net worth? Do you know how much you need to accumulate before you can retire? You know, sometimes people can answer the simple questions.

Laura Khalil:

Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host, Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bait, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome back to brave by design. This is one of our newest episodes of 2021. And what a way to start it off than to talk about wealth management and financial planning. And I have brought the expert on to get you on the right footing for 2021. I want to welcome you to echo Hong, she left China at age 20, to cross the ocean with nothing but $800 and the hope of achieving the American dream. her courage and dedication fueled her journey through the business world over the next 20 years gaining experience working in financial planning firms of all sizes, before venturing off on her own. Today, as founder and president of the echo Wealth Management with multiple designations such as CFP, CPA, CFA, I don't even know what all those are echo. But that's amazing. Echo helps the country's top executives and entrepreneurs take the complexity out of their finances, giving them the competence to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.

Unknown:

Echo.

Laura Khalil:

Welcome to brave by design.

Echo Huang:

I'm thrilled to be here.

Laura Khalil:

I am so happy to have you here. You know, as I was researching you before we brought you on the show. Your story is funny bananas. Let's go back to China, because there was a point where you were kind of living on your own as a teenager, right?

Echo Huang:

Yes. Yeah.

Laura Khalil:

How did that happen?

Echo Huang:

Well, yeah, I'm gonna tell the story in a very brief way, right. I was born and raised in China, southern part of China, not too far from Hong Kong. And my parents were teachers and they were sent to rural villages to teach. They lived apart until I was eight years old, and I have two younger sisters. Wow. And when I was 12, my parents made a major decision to move to the city of Shenzhen. That's exactly on the border of Hong Kong and Shenzhen was a fishing village at that time with the 1000 people. It was chosen to be the first special economic zone in China by former leader dunk game. And fast forward right now Schengen is considered Silicon Valley in China with about 17 million people

Laura Khalil:

wait from 50,000 to 17 million

Echo Huang:

million. Yes. Wow. And it's the most successful story in China in terms of using capitalism would mean you know, Chinese society and so I was there between 12 and age 20. Okay, I witness the transformation. And I was watching Hong Kong TV to learn Kendall nice. Okay, dialect I had to learn because you spoke Mandarin. I went to school to learn Mandarin. That's the official language at home. I was speaking hochkar and that's another dialect. And Hong Kong people and Schengen people speak Kendall nice. So I had to learn a brand new back at age 12. And so I didn't go to traditional schools I I went from middle school to Schengen School of Business and Economics. And I got an accounting diploma at age 17. And I left home and I worked for the Bank of China as an accountant.

Laura Khalil:

Wait a minute, Echo Echo. Is that normal?

Echo Huang:

No, it was not. Okay. That's why I personally feel like I really didn't go through a traditional path. And maybe that also contributed to my later you know, my stories later that I was able to take greater risk to what didn't

Laura Khalil:

Okay, wait. So let me ask you this. What inspired you at such a young age to make that kind of decision because when I'm, you know, 13 1415 years old, I'm running around after boys and you know, roller skating, I am not thinking about becoming a financial planner or accounting. or any of that. So tell us more about that.

Echo Huang:

I was all, you know, oldest child in my family and my parents actually were not doing well in terms of income in Schengen. As teachers, they did not get paid well. And it would be very difficult for them to pay for three children. Yeah, in college, because we are We were born within four years. Okay. And so I thought I was very good with math when I was younger. And I read a book by a, an author from Taiwan. Her name was echo Chan. So you can imagine I took her name, right? She traveled from Taiwan, that's under different governments. So she was free to travel, and visited more than 50 countries and wrote stories about how people live in different in the US in Europe, and even Sahara Desert. I read all her books. So she was my role model. And so I felt like someday, that was my dream. So when I was teenager I was dreaming about someday I would be able to do that just like echo Chan. So I think over time, I thought, you know, I need to make money. Yeah. Because my parents would not be able to support me, right? You know, they wouldn't be able to do that. So I think going into business was a natural path, because I was, you know, I was eager to be independent. And I was good with numbers. So accounting seems to fit. And then finance was my passion. So it's kind of like, Oh, I want to find the opportunity to leave China. And one day, well, I decided to study English at night when I was working full time for the Bank of China. So

Unknown:

it's a fourth language.

Echo Huang:

Well, I learned three Chinese, but it's one language but they sound different. Okay, so if you write them down, they are they look the same. Oh, okay. The pronounciation the three totally different way. So then I learned English in school. Okay, I took extra classes at night when I was 17. So one day, I was waiting for the opportunity to come to me. And one day the opportunity came because my uncle was a visiting scholar in the US for University of Idaho, in a small town, Moscow, and he remember my childhood dream. One day, he called me up and say, I'm going to be in the US for two years, I think this is your opportunity. If you are able to pass the English exam, that's the TOEFL and then be fine, a sponsor, and then get a full time student visa from the US Embassy. Okay, so that was very ambitious, because that's a tall order. I quit my job before I even had a passport. And that was a really good job. I was making more money than my parents as a schoolteacher. But I saw that as a great opportunity for me to so I quit my job. Study English pass exam was accepted by two universities. I chose to go to University of Idaho because my uncle was there. Yeah. And I was granted a full time student visa. That was very precious and unusual, because I came here to study finance, which is not something they would give plenty Americans, you know, many Americans have finance degree. And I came here for undergraduate. But anyway, nine months after I quit my job, I was in the US just imagine that even though I didn't have much money, but I was attending University of Idaho staying with my uncle's family and save money. And very quickly, I found out I did not have the money to pay for this education because as a foreign student, I had to pay non resident tuition. And the cost just tuition was several $1,000. So I had to borrow for my uncle. I worked all the time. And then Luckily, I found a scholarship to transfer the Minnesota that's how I ended up going to my gosh, yeah, Winona State University in Minnesota, and I packed my bag, and I left idle to come to Minnesota in the middle of the winter. That's why I did it the way I don't people. It was March but it was freezing cold.

Laura Khalil:

Everyone in the Midwest understands exactly what you mean. When you say march in Minnesota or anything? Yes, terrible.

Echo Huang:

So that's how I ended up here. Long story short, I finished school in 95. I changed my major from finance to accounting in order to get a job. It was very challenging for foreign students. Yes, find a job. And I only have 12 months to learn, right?

Laura Khalil:

It's you have a year right here practical?

Echo Huang:

Yeah. Oh, my one year and I was very fortunate to find a job before graduation because I had a very high GPA and accounting degree, much easier to find a job. So I started as actually an accountant working in the Twin Cities, and then I became a tax CPA working for KPMG, one of the law firms. So I prepare tax returns, and I help corporate executives and wealthy families with their tax planning and personal financial planning for FY I prepare their tax returns for almost four years. Okay. And very quickly, I found out I enjoy the planning part of my work during the year so much more than preparing tax returns. during tax season, no, Echo, no

Laura Khalil:

one likes doing taxes.

Echo Huang:

I just said to myself, you know, I think most people think I had that dream job because you know, hey, accounting major, you work for the largest accounting firm. You know, what else do you want? And I think I said to myself, I was 29 at that time. And I was like, Oh, my God, I can't imagine working this way for another decade, hoping to become a partner of, you know, the firm. And so I changed my career. I think that was very dramatic change. As I reflect back, you know, like, 20 years ago, in 2000, I changed my career from a very stable occupation. I don't think I would ever be fired, you know, from a tax CPA for KPMG to be a financial advisor in 2000 when I was 29. And that was a huge change because very feel women work as financial advisor or wealth manager, really, they feel 20 years ago, okay, do not calm and today because Certified Financial Planner designation, so I got that before age 30. That helped me build confidence, I would say for myself, because as a young person, try to ask people to look right, yeah, lifetime, melons, dollars die. And as I reflect back, even 20 years ago, only 23% of the Certified Financial Planner professionals, will women, really, now it's about the same. Okay. 23% is very, still a very small number. And so it was very strange for me to kind of feel like I am triple minority, right, a woman, Asian woman, a new immigrant. Yeah, in the field that you just simply don't normally see.

Laura Khalil:

Okay, Echo, I got a backup, I got several questions for you about this. The first one is, a lot of people would say, I have all these challenges. I have, you know, my probably I'm worried about my parents and their financial stability, I'm worried about my own financial stability. You don't want to go learn another language and move to another country. And you know, figure all that out. Oh, and by the way, I don't like what I'm doing. So I'm going to make a radical shift in my career, a few years on, those types of key moves are not easy to make. And they take a lot of courage and trust in yourself to be willing to believe, I think I can actually do this. So Can Can we just back up? Because Where did that come from? Was that something that was instilled in you as a child? or How did you feel that I can do this?

Echo Huang:

I think there are probably quite a few reasons I could pull it off, you know, at a critical time. One is I think my mom has instilled in me the confidence. My mother is a was a top student in her class and from a very poor village, but she was able to attend college, and that was very rare. So I feel like my mom being a school teacher and she was actually very resourceful was able to find out, Schengen was the place to be and she found a way to move, find a job and move the entire family to Schengen. So if she didn't do that, I would not have this opportunity. Right. So I would give a lot of credit to my mom in terms of raising me to be a person who's confident and and you saw her making the moves. Exactly. I saw her making dramatic changes and, you know, seek networking and you know, and also Dare to dream. So that is something I, I think that's important. And a second reason I think I also gave myself room to fail, and pick myself back up. So I do believe that, you know, I face fear too. Because no matter how you prepare for something that big, you know, I am a planner by nature, yes, but I still have sometimes I think, you know, that may not work out. So even I have a good business plan, and I have home equity line of credit. But I feel like, if I don't do it, I would regret that is another reason for me to say, you know, I'm gonna allow myself to give it a try. I'm still young. While at that time, I didn't have a child. So I was thinking, you know, what could be worse than come into the US with $100 in my pocket. So I always reflect back to the time where I had to wash dishes in the restaurant, you know, in the company years ago for minimum wage, yellow dollar and 25 cents an hour. You know, so I think when I faced a fear, I just like, you know, could it be worse, you know, if I don't make huge profit, maybe it just gonna be slower, but I'm gonna go with steady growth, I probably won't fail. But even worse, if I actually fail, I can always go back to a CPA, it's not right, you know, I cannot do my job, I was actually doing my job very well. It just didn't get, I just didn't get excited. You know, after four years, I thought, you know, this is not something I meant to do. And it was a path for me, as a foreign student with very little resources without any network. At that time, it was a stable job for me to have the benefit and build some, you know, money, right, usually some money to take risks and started my business. So I worked for a large company for three years. And then I started my own business in 2003.

Laura Khalil:

So I love this. So for everyone listening, I don't care if you're a financial planner, if you're in another field, if you're in another part of the world. The advice that echos giving to us right now about taking calculated risks. And like she said, we're all scared. Everyone who makes a big move, or a key move is scared about we think we don't let the fear overtake it. Now, the other thing I have to ask you before we get into financial planning in your book, Echo Chen. Is it echo Chen? Is that her name?

Echo Huang:

Yes. Echo Chen.

Laura Khalil:

Did you ever meet her?

Echo Huang:

No, unfortunately, no. She passed away. Okay, I came to the US. And she she is so well known, you know, people in China and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, especially my age. They know her. Yeah. If they can read Chinese, they know her. But yeah, okay, cuz she's one of my important role models.

Laura Khalil:

Well, because it's funny, because as you were talking about her, it reminded me of one of my role models, who maybe is her counterpart in the US but Suzy Orman, who I absolutely loved watching Susie Orman as a kid when she would be on CNBC and telling people, can you afford it or not afford it and stuff like that. And I just loved that you had someone like that, to show you the scope of how big things can be and you don't need to stay in your little lane. You can dream bigger. So without further ado, tell us a little bit about the book that you just wrote. It's called Own your future one woman's story of immigration and financial freedom.

Echo Huang:

Yes, I would love to tell you, your audience about my book, because just imagine I spent over a year writing a book. Yeah. And the main reason for writing this book is number one is to educate and inspire people to start financial planning now. You don't have to be rich to start wealth management or financial planning. And the second reason I wrote this book is to encourage more women to get into this profession. Because I see gender inequity we can we known knows no matter how hard you work, we are still underpaid as because of gender inequity and not enough woman work as a financial adviser or wealth manager to help women. So I want to set myself as an example and show all the my own journey and the struggles I have to overcome to succeed in this industry. And so hopefully for the young woman out there if they haven't seen this as a a viable career option, I just want people to understand it can be done. So hopefully 20 years down the road, it's not 23% it's going to be 50. Or at least like a 45. I love it. CFP a woman. So in my book, first two chapters is about my immigration experience. Okay. So you know, making those critical transitions, how I apply some life principles to decision making. There are several, you know, one I definitely mentioned about is dare to dream. Remember everything, start with a dream, right? You know, you need to have that dream in order to keep yourself going to overcome obstacles. So I think it's important to remind yourself your dream. And meticulous planning is extremely important, even personal finance or your business venture. So you need to plan ahead, if you're not good at it, surround yourself with experts who are good at doing helping you plan ahead and be adaptable as I love.

Laura Khalil:

So okay, academia, because we're at the start of 2021. Yeah, we have, it's kind of like a new year, people might be thinking, Okay, you know what, I'm listening to echo, it's time for me to start. Now it's time for me to get my finances and my financial future in order. When someone comes into you, what are some of you'd say that there are four common problems you encounter? When people come to you for financial advice? What are those problems?

Echo Huang:

Yeah, the first one is probably the most common problem is people simply don't have any plan at all. It's more like, you know, you ask question, what is your net worth? Do you know how much you need to accumulate before you can retire? You know, sometimes people can answer the simple questions. And, you know, a couple could look at each other and say, we don't know that, you know, yeah, so not having a plan is most common problem. I don't care what plan whether it's professionally done, like what we do cash flow plan, year by year to age 95, with the software to learn everything. Oh, somebody should have the most simple plan, such as a budget? And how are you going to get to the saving goal? By paying yourself first how much you're saving for short term, and intermediate term and the long term? The second common problem I see is, people make decisions on investment very emotionally. Okay. Imagine we are human. And in fact, in my book, there's one chapter devoted to how to overcome behaviors, you know, this kind of, I would say, how to overcome these obstacles and make the right decisions, right. So that's emotional investing is certainly the most common problem for many investors to sell stocks when they lost 30%, like this spring, but then they don't get back in timely. And then I recover

Laura Khalil:

said, we're at the height of the market. Yeah.

Echo Huang:

Like, well, now I go 100% in stock. I mean, if they do that several times during their lifetime, they completely destroy their portfolio performance, right. And then the third common problem I see is people do not review their insurance coverage, or they have no idea where to start. Let's talk about life insurance, disability insurance, or personal liability insurance, health insurance. When people don't have I think a very common problem I see is high income people do not have disability insurance, Long Term Disability Insurance. That is a high risk, right? And you recommend that? Well, if they don't have enough asset, yeah, let's say 40 year old making half a million, if that person becomes disabled, yes. And where do you get the asset to replace that person's income. So if you have a coverage, it's really important at work, you look at what is offered, sometimes they give you the short term disability for free, but then you need to choose the long term disability coverage. Do not overlook that because it's a it's a very expensive when you're disabled. And I think the other problems I see is estate planning, people do not like to talk about what if they cannot handle their finances because they were in their in coma, hospitalized, or when they die, they just don't want to think about that. But as you can imagine, during pandemic, it's even more important to have a solid state plan. So I want people to at least think about if you don't have a Will you need one, especially if you have minor child, okay, yeah. And then the second thing is Health Care Directive. You want to choose the right kind of person. A healthcare agent to make life and death decision for you and how you want to be careful, you know, when you are, you know, express your wishes yourself. And then the financial power of attorney is so important. You could be hospitalized for two months. Well, the bills will need to be paid, let's say, right, somebody has who's gonna do it? Who's gonna do it? So I would say those are pretty common problems. I see. And in my book, I have chapters about planning for retirement, I call it Financial Independence Day. estate planning strategies. Yeah, I have talked about tax strategies. Nobody wants to pay more taxes than they Exactly. And I have a chapter about charitable giving. Oh, very nice. Yeah, another chapter, as I mentioned, is about behavior, biases, overcoming behavioral bias, yeah, that they can be more rational investors. And I have one chapter devoted to creating your own financial Dream Team. The reason for a lot of people they don't plan is somehow times they don't even know where to start, right. I want to make sure they will one chapter to educate people how to look for the right kind of financial advisor, who are fiduciaries who look out for your best interest in AI resources in the book, many people don't want to do it themselves. So they need to find someone they can trust. And that person can help them. Like introduce them to the right kind of professionals, the CPAs, the state attorneys, the insurance everyone, your team, everybody on the team and work together for you.

Laura Khalil:

This is so critical. I want to say a couple things, one on the estate planning side, we went through this with my parents about six years ago when they were healthy. It is weird, everyone I understand. It's weird to be like talking about power of attorney and death and trusts and all that stuff. But I'm going to tell you what, some of you know that my parents are pretty sick. And I will tell you, we are so glad to have all of that already prepared. Do it when you're healthy. Do it when you don't think you need it. because trust me, you don't want to do it when you're in a really challenging situation. So I love that I think that's so important. I love how all the advice you give, we can start off this year really thinking about and taking steps towards Now I know that there is not going to be a clear answer to this question. But I have to ask you, yeah, as everyone is listening, and I have to be the sort of voice of the listener, everyone's listening to saying, Echo, I don't know how much money I need for retirement. How do I even figure that out? Do I need a million dollars? Do I need $3? million? Do I need 10? How do we begin? To answer that question?

Echo Huang:

The answer is depends. The reason for it is it really depends on that person's lifestyle, and how long that person will live. Right? Because it's a number of calculation. It can be done. If you use some financial calculator, there are some financial calculators online that people can look at it and say, Hey, I can I save already this much. And each year I save this much. And then if I retire at whatever, 65 if I'm expected to live 25 years or 30 years, yeah, how much you may need. There are software out there people may be able to crunch the number. However, for a lot of people, if they're not comfortable with that, it's important to work with a professional. Because just like a doctor's you can treat some minor sickness on your own, you know, go to buy some drugs and deal with it. Right. But for some people, when so much as a state when I'm talking about if people are thinking they want to retire in five years or 10 years, there is not a lot of time, right? If you get it wrong, what happened you have to go back to work after you quit. Right? There's no do over in general in retirement, right. So I would suggest most people if they're not comfortable with that, of course the advice is safe. As much as you need for most people, I would say minimum 10% of income. That's a good start. If you want to save more great, but to have better, like clarity when people want peace of mind and clarity that they can see clearly where the money goes. Yeah, investing for long term or short term. What is reasonable rate of return from the market? That is something I think it's best to consult with a professional who could look at a timeframe Use some software to test your willingness to take risk on this kind of volatility,

Laura Khalil:

because it's so emotional,

Echo Huang:

it's very difficult for people. You know, when you ask people and say, you know, can you tolerate this much loss, you know, most people normally will say, I don't want to lose any money, by welcome. But the temporary loss is necessary in order for you to get to potential higher return. That's why we have to invest a lot of money in the stock market, of course, globally allocated, diversified in order to outpace inflation after tax in the right. So there's no easy answer. But the key thing is, Know yourself what you are good at, and what you're not good at. So you will not good at this kind of stuff you are not, it's may not be worth it for you to spend your time and not feeling confident about your future. So I suggest people read blogs and read books. That's why I want to write a book to educate people, read something to educate yourself. But in the end, make your own decisions about who do you want to partner with. So that person will take good care of you and you know, be a guide, you know, along the journey. This is a long journey. It's just not this month or next month, hopefully, you'll find a trusted relationship that you can build on over the years, and you can get to your goals sooner than trying to figure everything out on your own.

Laura Khalil:

You know what I love about this advice, and I've said this before on the show, when we talk about the traits of a great leader, great leaders and think of yourself, folks, you're the CEO of your life, okay, so you are leading your life. Every great leader surrounds themselves with people who are smarter than them, to help them accomplish their goals. Today, we're talking about financial planning, and wealth management. But there are other areas of your life where there are people who are smarter than you who can help you in those areas. So think about who do I want on my squad? How do I want to help me empower me in these decisions, and I guarantee because I know a lot of people have so much fear and anxiety around even talking about money, that I guarantee you if you just have the conversation with somebody who is more experienced than you, and that is of course licensed to talk with you about this stuff, you're going to feel better because they're going to help you put a plan in place. Echo we have this has been an incredible conversation. I would love if we could leave the audience with a couple of just quick key takeaways before we say goodbye.

Echo Huang:

Sure. I think the first one when people are dealing with market volatility I want people to remember, don't try to time the market thinking you're just smart. And you'll know when to get in and when you get out. Because the time in the stock market is actually more important than the timing of the market. So I want people to think about many people try to time it perfectly and say right now maybe it's not a good time. So therefore I don't invest. I want people to know, based on all the studies, if you have the time, let's say for the time, 10 years or longer, it's okay to see temporary losses and you just need to stay invested and diversify in the stock market. That's my version of it. The second advice is, you don't need to be wealthy to start financial planning. So start with $1,000. Because that's how I started, okay, small amount of money. And you can also learn from it. It's kind of like if you have a hard time saving, start with $100 because at least you started. So because of compound interest. The magic of compound interest works extremely well when you give it enough time. So I would say for most people, it's really important to get started regardless whether it's a financial plan on investing. So the first thing you should do is probably if you don't have a budget create one.

Laura Khalil:

I love it. Okay, everyone, this is it. This is the start of the year. We're going to probably talk about this again at the end of the year and see how you did. So this is your call to action. Let's get that plan in place. Grab eco Hong's book. Own your future eco home. Thank you so much for coming on brave by design. How can people find you

Echo Huang:

Please visit my website all your future doc guru. So that is dot g you are you because I want to be financial guru for many people even if I cannot serve as a financial advisor for every person, you can connect me online there on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. I love it. Thank

Laura Khalil:

you so much.

Echo Huang:

You're welcome. Thank you, Laura,

Laura Khalil:

I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date, and I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode. Please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave