April 22

Episode 32: Creating Wealth with Anthony Chen


Anthony Chen started his career in financial services with MetLife in Buffalo, NY, in 2008. Born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens, he considers himself a full-blooded New Yorker while now enjoying his Atlanta, GA home. Specializing in family businesses and their owners, Anthony works to protect what is most important to them. 

From preserving to creating wealth, Anthony partners with CPAs and attorneys to help address the concerns and help clients achieve their goals. Using a combination of financial products ranging from life, disability, and long-term care insurance to many investment options through Royal Alliance. Anthony looks to be the eyes and ears for his client’s financial foundation. In his spare time, Anthony is an avid long-distance runner.

Securities and advisory services are offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA), member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned, and other entities and/or marketing names, products, or services referenced here are independent of RAA. The main office address is 575 Broadhollow Rd. Melville, NY 11747. You can reach Anthony at 631-465-9090 extension 5075 or by email at anthonychen@lfnllc.com.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

Mike asked Anthony about his thoughts on retirement in this episode. 

  • When talking to a potential client, Anthony asks the client what their values are. What is their relationship with money? 
  • Business owners get so focused on serving others that they forget to focus on themselves. 
  • Some people can’t see themselves ever retiring because they’re so focused on what they’re doing now. Some are living a semi-retired lifestyle when they are in a lifestyle business. So, it seems like retirement doesn’t mean much because they’d be doing the same thing in or out of retirement. 
  • What the market was in the past may not be the way it is today. So, the new generation comes in and introduces new ideas. So, it’s good for everyone to come in and focus on sharing knowledge instead of butting heads. 
  • Most business owners facing a buyout will choose to keep the business going, especially if it’s a family business. Some companies that the family doesn’t want to carry on the business they might look to selling. 
  • Is there a magic timeframe on how long buyout time frames should last? It depends on the businesses. Family businesses are already staples in communities. It doesn’t mean the founder needs to step away. They could move to a minor role and bring in other family members or new employees. If the owner is the business’s face, the owner should be there for a certain amount of time; there should be a proper transition timeframe. 
  • Some people retire and want to make a difference in the world because they have the time and the financial means. Anthony knew someone who was as blue-collar as you can find them. He had a passion for graphic design and creative arts. He began a business in graphic design. He transitioned from blue-collar factory work into graphic design and did this in his retirement. Anthony helped a person bring forth their passion and then pursue the dream. 
  • One client was asked what he would do if he could. And he responded by saying he had a toolkit in his garage, and it was a passion he wanted to create a business out of. Another had a quilting hobby, and it was a skill passed on throughout the family. So, he asked if she would like to do that into her retirement. Anthony asked if they would like to turn these things into businesses, and often they had never thought about it. They possibly got stuck in the way they were thinking of retirement, and Anthony helped give them the idea to turn their passions into businesses. 
  • Getting clear pictures of the person’s values helps clarify their retirement goals and needs. 
  • Some people find value in fishing and passive hobbies in their retirement. But some say they would like to have more to their routine. They want to find a purpose. 
  • On the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony thinks that different people have different mentality changes from it. People are starting to reevaluate what’s essential. Money comes and goes, but what doesn’t is the comradeship of family. Anthony has seen people come together as communities to take care of each other and value what they have. 
  • In closing, he says people shouldn’t get stuck in what other people have done in their retirement. Just because they did it does not mean it’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Many clients are busier now than they were during their working years because they are passionate. 


  • “Retirement can look very different depending on who you’re speaking to.” – Mike.
  • “In this next chapter in your life, you should focus on doing the things you’ve always wanted to do and just neglected.” – Anthony.
  • “[Retirement] is the time to start living for themselves.” – Anthony
  • Some say, “I built this from blood, sweat, and tears. There’s a particular set of values I want to pass on.” – Anthony. 
  • “Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. “ – Anthony

Links & Resources Mentioned…

Don’t Miss an Episode!

We provide every episode in audio, text, and video to learn what you need to get unstuck no matter how you know best. Head to http://unstuck.show to subscribe and view past episodes.

Read The Transcript

Episode #32

Mike O'Neill: Welcome back to the Get Unstuck and On Target podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders and we're business coaches who love to help leaders get unstuck and sleep better. In this podcast, we're talking with thought leaders to uncover tips to help you break down the barriers that may be keeping you or your business stuck. Joining me today is Anthony Chen. Anthony is a highly regarded investment advisor with Lighthouse Financial Network. Welcome Anthony. 

Anthony Chen: Hey, thank you for inviting me to the show Mike.

Mike O'Neill: Well, I'm looking forward to our conversation. We've had several prior to this and I think our listeners are in for a treat.

Let me share a little bit more about Anthony. He started his career in financial services with MetLife in Buffalo, New York in 2008, born and raised in Queens. He does consider himself a full blooded New Yorker while now enjoying his Atlanta, Georgia home. So in specializing in family businesses and their owners, Anthony works to protect what's most important to them.

From preserving to creating wealth. And he most often partners with CPAs and attorneys to help clients achieve those very goals. I also have the advantage that not only am I going to be taking notes from a perspective of a financial planner? Anthony is also the host of his own podcast. It's entitled Family Business Radio, and will include information on how you can subscribe to that as well.

But of all the possible topics that Anthony is qualified to speak on. I've asked him to kind of share his thought on retirement and why we as leaders might need to kind of reframe our thoughts about retirement. So welcome Anthony.

Anthony Chen: Thank you.

Mike O'Neill: You know, I'm said that the reason I wanted to spend some time on retirement is that in our prior conversation, I got the sense that this conversation you have with your clients or potential clients is oftentimes kind of an anchor conversation. Cause you asked me that question, and that is, as we're getting know each other, your business and my business, I got a sense that you asked. So. Great questions that, that has impressed me when you're talking to a potential client, how do you go about kind of gauging if this client would be a good fit for you and your services? 

Anthony Chen: Some of the questions or points I try to really understand and grasp. What is their values? What does their measurement of success? Is it really just a dollar figure? And what is their relationship? With money. If it, if money is really the end goal, then almost right off the bat, I know, okay, this might not be a client I could definitely please. But if they look at, or their relationship with money is really just a tool to do the things they want in terms of say having a particular quality of life. Giving back, spending more time with family or giving to the community then I know right away in terms of the perspective towards money or finance and values will be something that we'll be able to jive with because that'll be a perspective I can help guide them through. 

Mike O'Neill: You know, you work a lot with business owners. Do you find that business owners have a good idea of what the answer that question is before you ask it? 

Anthony Chen: I have to be rather blunt than more times than that now, because they are so focused and it's not, not their fault, but they're so focused on growing the business, running the day-to-day operations that sometimes they're so focused on servicing everyone else, whether it be declines or the employees that they seldom think about servicing themselves, kind of like the saying where the cobbler's kids have no shoes. Most of the owners are kind of in that perspective. 

Mike O'Neill: So you begin that kind of exploration with them to better understand their view towards money. You better understand what is it that they're wanting to kind of prepare for. Retirement it seems as if society kind of paints this picture of what retirement looks like. And I'm just kinda curious, in your dealings with these folks over all these years. Retirement can look very different depending on who you're speaking to. Can you describe kind of the range of what people choose to do in retirement? 

Anthony Chen: Oh, it's a whole range from, people thinking, that the stereotype of a business owner, sending off the keys and then going into the sunset on the golf course every day. So some might say, Oh, that's sign me up for that plan. And then there's others where it just even the whole word and notion of retirement that sort of gives them the anxiety. They can't see themselves ever retiring  because they are already doing what they want to do in their latest, stages of life. They say, well, I can't see myself doing anything else, but this. So some of them are kind of already quote unquote, living a semi-retired lifestyle and which then we would look at their business. Well, is this a enterprise business where they're looking to sell or a lifestyle business, which is, a perspective I stole from another banker where the question is, if this is a lifestyle business, then they kind of, are in a semi-retired state.

Mike O'Neill: I love the way you just described that because I could immediately identify with what that would mean. So if a person is describing their business as a lifestyle business in terms of what it affords that person. Then it sounds as if you're kind of describing someone who may already be doing the kinds of things that a lot of people do in retirement, and this business gives them the freedom to do those things while still in the business.

Anthony Chen: Certainly . So whether it be something they really have a true love and passion for something that they would be doing anyway, even if they are retired. So they figured, well, I'm in no different state working then quote, unquote retirement. Which is kind of a perspective I try to help people understand is that retirement, isn't just one fixed state.

And then that's it. It can be a continual evolution of different aspects of their life that are things that could change, perhaps, maybe something happened in their family event or maybe they get a little older when let's say the business is very physically active. Well, what you were doing in your twenties and thirties might not necessarily be able to, your body necessarily afford and agree with you going all out in your sixties and 70, but that doesn't mean you have to completely stop.

Because that's the other perspective that kind of the sterotype, when it comes to retirement is, Oh, I just cold Turkey stop. Doesn't have to be that way. You can actually kind of slow down a little bit, take on a new role and look at other avenues where you can continue into your field of passion and never have to really miss a beat.

Mike O'Neill: You work I know with business owners and business leaders, and I'm thinking of maybe of a family business by which the founder of the business is nearing an age where he or she is thinking about retirement, but that kind of complicates matters. Does it not? 

Anthony Chen: Oh, absolutely. It, it, it's not just having that hard conversation. Where at the end of the day, the matriarch or patriarch, the founder of the business may have a specific set perspective of how the business should operate. But what could be valid very valid 30, 40 years ago might not necessarily be the same way in a new marketplace today. And the new generation coming in may want to take the business to a new direction or keeping up with the times and you kind of have that kind of push and pull where both wants the best for the business. They're just coming in from different perspective and that's where advisors or consultants would need to be brought in and try to get everyone on the same page and understand, Hey, we don't have to butt heads.

We can all we're all coming into the same goal. Let's, let's find a way that both sides will be amenable to that. 

Mike O'Neill: I'm going to be oversimplifying this, but in this situation, we just describe the founder is moving in direction to hand the business over to another family member. And I'm going to kind of contrast that with a founder considering selling their business. I think you call it an enterprise. Outright, by which they may in fact, be walking away from the business or has some type of buyout that, has to be placed into it. What are you finding most business owners you deal with? Which direction did they more often choose? 

Anthony Chen: Preference is that if it's a family, especially multi-generational business, they would like to keep it with the family, but that doesn't always work out where the kids might not be very interested in the business. So then they have to go to plan B where they want to look at someone else who will be interested in buying a business outright, or as I'm probably preaching to the choir, to your audience, because that this is something that needs to have a conversation and plan early on and kind of picking out maybe one or two key employees that'll kind of the star of the business that they can trust outright that, Hey, if I'm not going to be here in one or two weeks, they got this. Completely on lock. So if there's one or two, they see great promise and they can see that employee as one day really running the business that could be conversation to be had, early on.

So rather than kind of thinking about and waiting into the day of, selling. Both of them on that conversation because they're probably thinking the same thing I'm saying, well, the owner isn't getting any younger. I would like to have my own business, perhaps rather than going out on my own I could kind of step into the role as an owner one day and really see themselves, or right away act as an owner.

Mike O'Neill: Anthony, this is not a question that you might would have anticipated, but as you're thinking about an owner who is going to be handing the business over to a family member and easing away from the business. Versus an owner who is selling the business and perhaps easing away from day to day, but has some type of buyout, have you found that there is a kind of a magic timeframe on how long a transition should last under those scenarios? 

Anthony Chen: Oh, well, if only there was an answer that can be up to solve that particular question. It's all very unique to each, family and business. So getting just on the specific for of family business, perhaps that could be, they're already a staple in the community. And the community already had that kind of relationship and that attachment to that family business.

So it doesn't mean that the original founder needs to completely step away. They get, instead of being at the office or the brick and mortar, let's say coffee shop, in a smaller town and sort of being there, running the whole operations five days a week, they could be there two, three times a week, or maybe just had a compensation and continued relationship and engagement with a client and customers coming in. And really shift the whole operations and the management side to the kids and let them run with it. So the parents or the founder that can really just be the face of the business. Now on the more of a transactional end, then the conversation will be between the buyer and owners that okay, if the owner is more or less the face of the business, usually the agreement is that the owner was stay on for X amount of time. So that the transition to the handoff can be as smooth as possible. So that that's more, more of a contractual agreement. So that's when business attorneys and come into the picture to set the agreeable, time between both parties or more parties of just other partners involved.

Mike O'Neill: So thus far, we've kind of described maybe a couple of scenarios and there's many variants of that. We'll go, let's go back to this idea of retirement. You know, we've talked about those people who just want to play golf all the time as what we, some people kind of think, well, that's what retirement is all about.

But have you worked with folks who were thinking about retirement differently. That is they want to go make a difference in the world because they now have the time and perhaps the financial means to make a difference. What would you describe that scenario to be?

Anthony Chen: Oh, there's several stories I can share a, right off a memory of clients and that to kind of keep their identity confidential. For one of the few privilege I had working with is that this is when I was in Buffalo. Did they might know if they're listening in a warm referring to, so this gentlemen is about as blue collar, as you can look, and he's got tattoos, he's looks like a biker is a biker. And when you look at him, you wouldn't put a finger calling him a tech guy or a creative arts guy. Never would have guessed it. And yeah, his dream dreamy, his passion was always into creative arts and graphics design. It's just that family obligations, work, kind of put that dream on the back burner, but then the conversation in terms of what is his retirement, what is his quality of life? What is his passion? Is going back to his roots of wanting to do something creative and graphics. So a long story short with him is he started a business. Doing graphics designs, or signage, or the biz will be called out nowadays where it, this is where like way back then when, full wraps around cars and vehicles was kinda new.

So he's really like into the forefront of going to these graphics designs and wraps around vehicles. And that's his dream. So transitioning from blue collar factory work into high tech graphics, creative work. Most people wouldn't even think about that. But here, he is wanting to chase his path and starting a business.

Whereas most people are kind of thinking about winding down, selling their business. So when looking into the perspective of what is retirement. We need to kind of break the notion of stopping working, but rather starting something new that they've always wanted to do. But unfortunately, whether it be family obligations or maybe timing or the resources to kind of put that at a wayside, my question to them is why not bring that back? Because in this next chapter of your life, you really should focus on doing the things that you always wanted to do and just neglected. 

Mike O'Neill: Anthony have already shared this with you, but I won't do it again. And that is when you and I first connected where we were trying to learn more about each other, learn, little more about our respective organizations and the clients that we try to serve. The questions you asked me were so perceptive. It was not, a boilerplate list of questions, but not only were the questions perceptive. When you listen to the response, your followup gave me a clear sense that the way you would engage with a potential client, moves beyond the surface pretty quickly.

And this is a good example that you just mentioned someone that by appearances sake, you would have thought, would it be taken a certain course of action, but by you asking the questions, you surfaced a passion that this person always had, and you help that person that kind of map out a strategy to pursue it. And it sounds as if this person was successful in the pursuit of that passion. 

Anthony Chen: So, and, and that was kind of coming in, in the mid section as he was pursuing that dream. And then kind of going into another example where it was someone that was just not even on a blueprint wasn't even on their mind in terms of opening it up, because for him his example, he was going into a business.

So here's an example of thinking out of the box when it comes to retirement. So this couple she lived in Queens. He live in Buffalo. So he's an engineer, she's an architect. And in conversation in regarding to w what would you like to spend retirement? What does retirement look like for them? And they kind of have this typical deer in the headlights because, well, we never really thought that far.

All that that's kind of, so in terms of, for me to understand that, all right, well, what does kind of your lifestyle and what are your hobbies? And for him, he shared, well, if I had more time, I would like to pick up the art that my grandfather and father passed on to me. This is this toolkit and set I have just standing my garage where I can carve and whittle pure wooden acoustic guitars.

It's a lost art form because I would really like to get back to that. I go, wow. I didn't know that I imagined before that particular kind of skill set you can get, you can definitely make a business out of it. If not, that's already a hobby who would be doing anyway. And in the conversation or asking, to the wife what is your unique set and hobbies that you'd be doing or probably already doing right now.

And she shared with me, well, everyone in the office knows me as the person that makes these incredibly beautiful quilts. And every time someone in the office would have a newborn, I'll give them a little baby quilt. Well, how did you pick up that art? And she said, well, that was a skillset pass on to me by my grandmother and my mother.

I go, well, would that be something you can enjoy doing? During your retirement years, she goes, Oh yeah, absolutely. So already, just by merging those two hobbies, like I try to paint a picture for them cause they already outlined well, if we were to have a retirement lifestyle, we would like to have be in a, kind of a low key, college town and I go well there we go. I could already see helping them kind of paint a picture of maybe let's say. One ranch, one floor ranch house where he kind of has his garage wood workshop doing his acoustic guitar. And then she can kind of have her sun room where she has all her equipment and sewing machine to do her quilt and whether it, they want to turn into a business or just kind of turn the hobby into a business that could be an avenue they could pursue. And there was like a light bulb that just pop in their head. Oh yeah we never even thought about that as a potential retirement. Is this a possible goal. Well, yeah, that's kind of what we're, we're having a conversation here talking and planning about it. Right. 

Mike O'Neill: You've described a time like a light bulb went off. I would love to kind of characterize that they, they may have gotten stuck in looking at retirement in a very, very narrow way. And by you asking the question about hobbies, something that they, might not have anticipated, both of them mentioned hobbies that were family traditions and that both given opportunity would express interests and, investing more time in those hobbies.

You know, we were talking about situations where people kind of get stuck. Can you think of any other situations where perhaps you or a client got stuck and what did you do to help them or help yourself get unstuck?

Anthony Chen: I guess I kind of jumped the gun on that scenario and that question there because that was one quick example where they were stuck in terms of, we don't know what we want to do. And we were talking, we just know where we would like to spend our time. So, which let me do my questions over what are their hobbies kind of explore the things that they would like to do or spend more time on because it, at least in my perspective, during one's retirement years, that is the time to start living for themselves because as parents, or business owners, perhaps, they're so focused on servicing their clients, servicing the community, servicing their family, that they typically neglect themselves. So for me, coming in as a financial advisor, it's, not just so much looking at their investments or insurance, but putting a spotlight of what does, what does the meaning of quality of life for them? And then we can kind of work. From there backwards in terms of, okay. If I can have a very clear understanding of what is the quality and what is their values are, then we can kind of start painting the picture of what retirement is like. And then we can work all the financial and the numbers we can easily work in from that perspective.

Mike O'Neill: Well, Anthony, I've already bragged on you once. I don't want to brag too often, but this is another example by which you have a strong financial background. And I would think that a person who is as strong financially would lead with that strength. And what I'm hearing you do is you've got that. But what you're finding is to really understand the client and what the client needs, you've got to ask questions, maybe questions they haven't actually thought of. You've already given at least two examples by which they might have been stuck with a certain outcome. If you had not asked the questions the way you asked them. They would have gone and done, and there's nothing wrong with this, but, you know, retiring and playing golf every day for some people is very, very fulfilling. For some people going fishing every day is very, very fulfilling. But you've kind of given some examples of where people said, you know what? I want more out of it than just that I want, I want to have a rich retirement lifestyle. That kind of mirrors, the rich implement lifestyle that I enjoyed. 

Anthony Chen: It comes down to understanding the client's why and their purpose. So if the client can answer those question, at least in terms of, you know, why and what they feel, their purpose and what they want to get out of life, everything else, more or less we can work on. And the financial that's the easy part that that's, that can easily fall into place is really the hard work of understanding what drives them. Because at the end of the day, for clients to be motivated to pursue a particular action, it's not just the money. Because that can come and go.

It's really understanding why I'm here. What kind of impact or legacy I wanna leave behind. And especially when working with family businesses or business owners, especially the founders, their biggest concern typically is well I built this from blood, sweat, and tears theres a particular set of values that I want to continue to pass on to the next generation, whether it be in my family or my kids or the next generation, coming in from a key employee.

So when I talk about wealth building, it's not just the dollar sign figure in terms of inheritance. But the wealth in terms of the values they want to pass on to the next generation, which at the end of the day is much more invaluable than whatever X portfolio size or one can grow.

Mike O'Neill: Now you mentioned portfolio size, we're recording this podcast, in early April and therefore in the world, but we'll speak about the United States. We've crossed over the one year Mark where COVID has, has had the, the impact. The horrific impact it has had both in the life and health, but also in, from a financial standpoint. What have you found looking back over the last 12 months, what has the, the COVID pandemic done to people's thoughts about money, their thoughts about retirement? Has it changed the thought process?

Anthony Chen: All depends on the audience and the individual that you would ask. So the people that I work specifically with, or, or I don't want to speak on behalf of a hundred, this is not a hundred percent all people, but, but the perspective is that after this year or, or even a few months going in, they're starting to reevaluate what's important to them. Portfolios and money can easily come and go, but what can't just easily come and go. There's their experiences and the comradeship of family and the business community. Because if there's one thing that I've seen, certainly from being involved in chambers and seeing how quickly, networking groups and business can react to, in terms of these challenging times, is all coming together to work as one large community to help each other. So if anything this is a test and proof positive that there are positive things in the world. In spite of these horrendous events that is really out of our control. 

Mike O'Neill: I share that perspective and appreciate you mentioning it. And that is as horrific as this has been, it has helped people take a time out and really ask the questions what really matters most. And that is ingrained to how you interact with clients and or potential clients. You know, we've discussed a pretty wide range of aspects of retirement. And I want to make sure that before we wrap up our time together, you may have in the back of your mind, some things you want to make sure that we do get out. Might you have any closing thoughts or takeaways that you would like to share?

Anthony Chen: Sure. So in terms of retirement, it's just from some of the examples I gave out. Don't get stuck in terms of thinking, oh my colleague, or I know a friend or my neighbor did this for retirement. That does not mean your plan needs to follow their plan. That's their plan, thats their values. Unless everyone's values are carbon copies. No plan and should be the same. So that's the first note. And the second note is don't be afraid of kind of think outside of the box, because going to the example of do blue collar factory worker, no one would have imagined that his retirement plan, is starting a business, whereas most people are thinking of leaving or selling their business or handing the keys off to a business. So don't think in terms of, Oh, Retirement. That means I've got to slow down or stop completely. If anything, some of my retired clients were actually busier schedule wise than they were working full time. And the reason being they're passionate about it, they're not doing this just for an obligation of a paycheck. They're doing this because they love it. They sleep, eat, breathe it, and can't imagine doing anything else other than it. 

Mike O'Neill: Anthony thats a great way of kind of recapping. And that is you're encouraging us, the listeners to recognize that our plan may look different than someone else's plan. And that's perfectly okay. And you're also challenging us as listeners to think. Hmm. Maybe you. Would benefit by thinking out of the box and in doing so you might be able to unleash a passion that can really change one's whole view on what retirement is. This has been very, very interesting, Anthony, if folks want to reach you, how do they connect with you online?

Anthony Chen: So, they can certainly, reach out to me, via email, which is really just my full name. Anthony Chen. Last name is spelled C H E N@lfnllc.com. So that's a Larry, Frank, Nancy, Larry, Larry, Charlie, or they can reach me at my office number at 631-465-9090 extension 5075. And, if they would like to, check out my podcast, should be the first search page result, typing in Family Business Radio. 

Mike O'Neill: Oh, excellent. We will include your contact information in the show notes. So if you didn't get a chance to write those down, don't worry about it. That will be included in those show notes. This has been a real treat. Thank you, Anthony. 

Anthony Chen: Thank you, Mike. 

Mike O'Neill: I also want to thank our listeners for joining us for this episode of Get Unstuck & On Target. We upload the latest episode every Thursday. And if you haven't already please subscribe. You know, as we've been listening to Anthony, he's pointing out that life really is too short to let business problems keep you up at night.

Our coaches love helping leaders solve the tough problems they're holding you back from the success that you deserve. So if you've been listening to my discussion with Anthony and you're realizing that something is keeping you or your business stuck, let's talk, go to our website, bench-builders.com, or just go to your browser and type unstuck.show to schedule a quick call. So I want to thank you for joining us, and I hope you've picked up on some tips that will help you Get Unstuck & On Target. Until next time.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}