Chris Brown cannot be stopped. After retiring from a 34-year federal career in 2008, he was back in the workplace within two months, working for EconSys. He started out in its Human Resources Group before moving on to head its retirement seminar programs as the Deputy Director of Federal HR Software and Services.
“I’ve never really thought of myself as being a retired person. I’ll say I’m a retired Fed, but I am not retired. I have never actually retired.”
Although he’s not interested in retiring himself, Chris has spent his second career helping others in the federal workforce prepare for retirement through seminars he designs and teaches.
In this episode of Government Enabled, host Linda Sue Kirschner talks to Chris about his journey teaching retirement seminars, which have taken him all across the country and even abroad. Chris also shares when he might just consider retiring.
Though there’s no exact date in mind, one thing’s certain — he knows what to expect when that day comes, even if he’s not quite there yet.
“I tell people, you also need to have a nonfinancial plan. What is it you’re going to do every day? What time will you get up? What’s the first thing you’re going to do? What’s the second thing you’re going to do? What is that plan? I don’t have one of those yet, which tells me I’m not yet ready to give it all up and just be a retired person.”
Chris worked for years in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where he first encountered EconSys, the company he would eventually work for. In the OPM, he had to examine big hiring initiatives — for example, those of people with disabilities or military veterans — to determine whether certain policies would contribute to a high-performing workforce. This was a challenge that required the help of an external consultant, and it was EconSys that would eventually assume that role.
Chris is dedicated to making sure his seminars are fun, but more importantly, extremely informative. He wants attendees to leave fully prepared for the economic aspects of retirement. This means understanding how much retirement income is necessary. Chris starts with the basics, looks at federal pensions in detail, then Social Security benefits, federal insurance programs and finally, the Thrift Savings Plan, something he believes is especially critical to the program.
Since his seminars largely revolve around the finances of retirement, Chris thought it would be best to have a financial planner come and give lessons on the basics of financial planning. However, he quickly realized that these individuals often had a personal agenda, hoping to gain a few clients in return. This didn’t line up with Chris’ vision for the training programs. To avoid bringing in planners with ulterior motives, he went back to school and became a certified financial planner himself.