June 30, 2017

A “Suffering Prevention Specialist"

Ron Lieber, the “Your Money” columnist for The New York Times, has written a series of articles on the intersection of faith and finance. The one that caught my eye - The Monk Who Left the Monastery to Fix Broken Retirement Plans

The stream of visitors to his monastery would arrive with many purported reasons. As the junior monk, he did not give much religious counsel. But he soon recognized a pattern: Every person who arrived with a spiritual issue had a financial problem lurking somewhere beneath it.

“So I would say, ‘I’ll pray for you, but let’s make a budget,’” he said. “‘Let’s start paying off student loans. Let’s get the child support you deserve.’ Prayer and contemplation can help you take more mindful action, but action is the outcome of contemplation.
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After trying and failing to find a better firm to fix his school’s 403(b), he up and started his own, Lynam Financial Services. His solution? Give people a menu of index or similar mutual funds, enroll all employees automatically and increase their savings regularly.....This was, in effect, a third full-time job for Mr. Lynam — and neither monks nor teachers ever feel as if they are truly off-duty. So in the past year, he has left both teaching and the monastery.

 Doug Lynam Former Monk
photo Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times

Former Christian fundamentalist, Marine officer-in-training and Benedictine monk and math and scienceteacher, Doug Lynam is now a financial adviser specializing in retirement plans, a role he calls being a “suffering prevention specialist.”

He wants to help schools build better retirement savings plans, so their teachers can leave the classroom at a time of their choosing with dignity and grace.....“These plans have drifted for decades,” he said. “There are poor investment choices, high fees and annuities that are abusive. Schools have forgotten that they are fiduciaries, and we’re seeing retirements being torpedoed by negligence, essentially.”
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His professional conversations now feel a lot like confession, he said, with people sharing stories of unpaid debts, betrayals and sure things that were far from it. He listens, and then he must hold the mirror up to those who may not want to see the truth.

“Perhaps one of the cardinal sins that I see the most, though it’s not a popular one to talk about, is sloth,” he said. “Some people are afraid but also a little lazy, and they don’t really want to do the hard work of facing their mistakes or lack of organization and knowledge on these subjects and take responsibility.”

Other articles in the series are Does God Want You to Spend $300,000 for College? and He Thought He’d Be Your Rabbi. Now, He’ll Get You a Mortgage.

“A place to live, with an emphasis on live and not place. The mortgage in some ways is the means, but the end is being home.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at June 30, 2017 12:30 PM | Permalink