Women's Retirement Radio

Lei Redding - Redding Private Client - Protecting Your Assets From the Unexpected - Episode 18

June 07, 2021 Russ Thornton Season 2 Episode 2
Women's Retirement Radio
Lei Redding - Redding Private Client - Protecting Your Assets From the Unexpected - Episode 18
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I was joined by Lei Redding of Redding Private Client, a company she started to deliver a boutique, client-focused solution to address the personal insurance needs of high net worth individuals and families.

In our conversation, we discuss Lei's background and why she's so passionate about her work. And also how she creates and hosts fun events to give back to her clients.

For more on Lei and Redding Private Client, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Hey, everyone, it's Russ and welcome to this episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today I'm super excited to be joined by Lei Redding. Lei, why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and about yourself personally?

Lei Redding:
Okay, thank you, Russ. My name is Lei Redding, and I started an independent insurance brokerage called Redding Private Client, focused on helping high net worth families protect their assets. Insurance can be a very confusing industry for a lot of people, so basically we offer a concierge level service, and we hold our client's hand to make sure that they get the coverage that they need at a competitive price, to make sure that their assets are protected.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, when you say that you serve high net worth families, in your mind, can you define what high net worth means to you? Is that based on income or assets or both?

Lei Redding:
Well the way we look at it, we're really focused on families that have a home, a $1 million dollars or higher. That's our starting point because a lot of times where you're working with people based on their investible assets, we're working with people based on their insurable assets. Families that have a home of least a $1 million dollars, typically have needs that the average family may not have.

Russ Thornton:
Got it, got it, that makes sense. So, I think most people have at least a general understanding of the type of insurance that you're talking about when it comes to property, casualty, home, auto, things like that even in the high net worth space, but just to simplify things. Let's say a five-year old approached to you and said, "Lei, can you explain to me what it is you do?" How would you explain your work to a five-year old?

Lei Redding:
Okay, so I always set up a caller meeting with my client first so I can get to know them. I like to find out what type of exposure they have. Homes, that includes vehicles, watercraft, rental homes, lake homes, beach homes, things like that, as well as the type of passion assets they have. Do they collect art or jewelry? Do they have wine collections? We're seeing a lot of wine collections now, which is a lot of fun, but that's new. A lot of retirees, we are seeing silver collections that they've had over the years, they've gotten from wedding presents years ago, to inherited pieces. Before they know it, they've got a lot of investment that they didn't realize that they have that needs protection.

Lei Redding:
We're also looking at other exposures that people may not think of. Do they have teenage drivers? Do they have domestic employees? When we're looking at things like that, are they on nonprofit boards? We're going to look at their excess liability or umbrella coverage to make sure that if they get sued, they've got enough coverage to protect their assets so that the insurance company will pay and it won't come out of their own retirement.

Russ Thornton:
Got it, so to put a bow on that, I mean it sounds like if I was thinking in terms of a five-year old, it sounds like you help people evaluate and protect their, for lack of a better word, their stuff. Homes, property, autos, watercrafts, multiple homes, whatever the case may be. Is that-

Lei Redding:
It is.

Russ Thornton:
... admittedly oversimplified, but is that a fair-

Lei Redding:
It is.

Russ Thornton:
... characterization?

Lei Redding:
We're protecting both the property itself as well as any liability exposure coming from it. Being an independent broker, which I recommend everybody work with someone independent, because it allows me to take your information and shop your coverage with multiple carriers to make sure that we're getting the best coverage for your situation but also at a competitive price.

Lei Redding:
So often I see someone who's gone with the same insurance company for 20 years and it's a great insurance company but it was designed for somebody with maybe a $200,000 house and a couple of Hondas and it was a great one they got out of college and they were in their late 20s, maybe early 30s, but as they make money, as they acquire assets and the value of their home grows, they may outgrow that first company and may need to move to a different level company.

Lei Redding:
So there's a lot of great insurance options but they all have different niches. So your insurance should evolve as your life evolves, and that's what I do is I get to know you and where you are now and place you where you should be. Then as things change, we can move you around and that's the benefit of an independent agent versus a direct writer that only represents one carrier.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and I would like to reiterate what Lei just said. I think there are tremendous benefits with working with independent brokers versus captive agents. As Lei said, that's not to disparage a company or an agent, but a broker can basically shop around, find you the best coverage and cost combinations. Whether we're talking about insurance or mortgages or even financial advice, I think there's a lot of benefits to dealing with someone that has independence and latitude so they can best serve you and find the best solutions for you, and they're not tied to just a single company and what that single company has to offer, for better or worse.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, how long... I know you and I have known each other for two or three years now, I think. How long have you been working in your field and doing this kind of work?

Lei Redding:
I got into insurance in 2008. I started off in the voluntary benefits and worked my way through commercial, and then eventually to personal lines. What I realized is my natural market was personal lines. When people call me, they didn't think of business insurance, they thought of their homes and cars and so forth. So I realized while I was going after company insurance, I was sending a lot of referrals across the hall to my colleague and I finally realized, I want to be able to work with family and friends and the people that I run into on a daily basis. So that's when I decided to switch over to personal lines. I think that was back in 2010 or '11.

Lei Redding:
Then really found a passion for the higher value homes because they're so unique, every home is very different, and that directs the rest of the account. A lot of times I've run into art collections that the former agent had never asked about, or jewelry that wasn't properly covered. That's one of the things that I've warned along the way and enjoy doing for clients is educating them on what they have and don't have, what they need and what they don't need.

Lei Redding:
I feel like so many people are worried about being over insured, but they rarely think about being underinsured. So that's one of the things that I want to help everyone with is to help them know what they have and how can we find something specifically tailored to them, because insurance is not one size fits all. Everything should be specifically tailored to each family's individual needs.

Russ Thornton:
With that in mind, I agree that people need to make sure they have the right amount and type of insurance coverage based on their own situation, but in your experience, Lei, what would you say you most often encounter that people are either underinsured or don't even have insurance in place? Something comes to mind for me might be like an umbrella liability policy, but what's been your experience as far as finding maybe common gaps in coverage, either the type of coverage or the amount of coverage in working with your clients?

Lei Redding:
Okay, I think what I see most often especially when I am reviewing coverage from a direct writer. By direct writer, we mean any of the big companies you typically see on TV that are captive as Russ said. Most homes are underinsured. I forget the statistics but I would say over 50% of the homes are underinsured. So an insurance company needs to insure your home for replacement cost, not market value. Quite often if someone buys a home for $300,000, they insure for $300,000, but due to the square footage especially with everything that we've seen with COVID right now, the cost of construction has increased dramatically. It may actually cost $450,000 to build that house today. We're not looking at land value, we're simply looking at the rebuild cost, debris removal, and building that home with all new materials.

Lei Redding:
So it's important when you purchase a new home to have your insurance agent run a replacement cost estimate on your home, and everyone has those tools, but in those tools, we have to have some details about your home. Not just the square footage and construction type, but also, are your bathrooms and kitchens builder's grade finish? Are they custom or are they designer? That makes a big difference. A lot of times I'll see agents that just put everything into the replacement cost estimate at builder's grade to come back with a cheap quote. So we need to get away from what all these commercials keep telling us as they can save us a certain amount of money and they can give us the cheapest rate. Insurance is like anything else, you get what you pay for. So it's important that if you're going to pay for something, that you know you're getting something in return for it.

Lei Redding:
So I think making sure that your home, typically it's most people's largest asset. Make sure it's properly insured, make sure that it is up to date on the replacement cost, if you buy a home for $1 million and you put a $200,000 renovation to it, maybe you finished the basement or whatever. Call your insurance agent, let them know about those renovations so that they can add that to the value of your home so if something happens, that all of that is covered. Then you're not left with having to come out of pocket and extra $200,000 or $300,000.

Russ Thornton:
Got it, that's helpful. Yeah, thanks for sharing that. I think that's a great action item for people listening to this, that if you haven't reviewed your coverage in the last six, 12, 18 months, especially given everything that we're dealing with with COVID and increasing construction cost and material cost and things like that. Now might be a great time to sit down and review your coverage and talk to your agent or if appropriate, reach out to Lei and I'm sure she'd be happy to have that conversation with you as well.

Lei Redding:
Sure.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, in the work you do, and I think you might have already touched on this indirectly if not directly, but what would you say is unique about who you are, the people you serve and how you serve them? Earlier you mentioned that having worked in different areas of the insurance industry, people seem to think of you for their personal lines, for their homes and things like that. So why do you think that is and how has that served you to better take care of your clients?

Lei Redding:
I think it's because I've always been a believer in, you can't be an expert at everything, you need to find what you're good at and then focus on that. I'm not a generalist in the sense that I'll write anyone's insurance because I did find that need long ago in the high net worth market.

Lei Redding:
So we work with families with homes $1 million and higher. I would say the majority of our business is coming from wealth advisors, estate planning attorneys, CPAs and realtors. That's because a lot of these professionals want to make sure that their client's assets are protected so that if they get sued, they're not having to dip into their investments to pay back the lawsuit or to pay back the defense cost.

Lei Redding:
Part of what we do in addition to providing the product itself is, we hold our client's hand. I take our concierge level service very seriously. My clients have cell number, they know if they need something over the weekend I will respond to them. We handhold them, we educate them from the beginning, we stay in touch with them throughout the year as things change. We take care of their children, when they graduate college and it's time for them to get their own policies, we have a little starter packet for it for their children where they get their renter's, auto, and a $1 million umbrella to get them started on that. Then we hold their hand along the way. So I think that's what makes us unique in that we truly care about our clients. We have relationships with our clients, we don't just write their policies and move on, but we stay in touch throughout the year.

Lei Redding:
The fun part of that is, we're part of their lives. When you're working with somebody's insurance, you see a lot of personal things going on. We've been there for our clients' divorces, we've been there for the sad times when they've lost a spouse or even a child, and they have to call us for different reasons. We're there for them as an advisor but also as a friend.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and I think that's one of the reasons that I have found you so refreshing. I know a lot of people in the insurance industry, some of who are great and I really like and respect a lot but I have always gotten the vibe from you that there's really a sense of caring and personal touch and frankly personality, when I talk to you, which is often refreshing compared to many of the folks that I speak to in and around the insurance industry.

Lei Redding:
Oh well, thank you.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, what's a favorite client success story that you've experienced working with folks over the years?

Lei Redding:
That's a hard one. There's so many good ones. I think one that comes to mind is there was a beautiful historic home that I was working on in Charleston. A family had bought this historic home and it had exposed brick on the interior, it was three or four stories, it was just absolutely breathtaking, and they were not from the area. So when they moved, they got a quote from a local agent and that person put them with a Demotech carrier.

Lei Redding:
What a lot of people don't realize is there are carriers that don't have the financial stability to get A rating with A.M. Best, so they get a Demotech rating which you pay a fee and you get a rating. There's not a whole lot to it like there is to get that rating with A.M. Best, they tend to be smaller companies, startup insurance companies, and they're offering typically bare bones coverage a very cheap rate.

Lei Redding:
So when we reviewed the family's insurance, [inaudible 00:15:45] they had put so much money and time and effort into, we found that it was underinsured by $1 million. Being on the coast, the likelihood of something happening to that house is really high because you're not just dealing with the typically fires and water damage, but also the possibility of hurricanes.

Lei Redding:
So we were able to find a carrier that a high A.M. Best rating that was a solid carrier to provide that additional $1 million in coverage. We adjusted their deductibles because they could afford to take on a little bit of extra self insurance. So basically we just rearranged how they were spending their insurance dollars. They took an extra $10,000 on the front end to increase their deductible, but they got an additional $1 million on the back end to protect their home. The price came out in the ballpark of what they were paying for bare bones coverage with $1 million less than what they actually needed. So that was very eye opening to see that those things happen, that somebody can be underinsured by such a substantial amount, but it was also fun because that was their passion, that was their project together in retirement, bringing this beautiful historic home back to life. We were able to make sure that it was properly protected.

Russ Thornton:
What a great story. A couple things you mentioned there that I just want to clarify for our listeners [inaudible 00:17:14] could take... I don't want to get off on a tangent, but could you take just a moment and explain who A.M. Best is and what it is they actually do?

Lei Redding:
Right, so A.M. Best is a rating company and it's very important in insurance, if you're choosing a company to insure your home, you want to make sure that it's financially stable. So if there is a major event, which we've seen when Florida gets hit by a hurricane, we saw Louisiana and Texas a few years ago both get hit in devastating ways. The California wildfires have hurt insurance companies terribly, the losses are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions in some cases. So you want to choose a company that has the financial stability and the reassurance that if they get hit by a major catastrophic event, that they're not going to go insolvent.

Lei Redding:
When you go with an insurance company, we only work with companies that have an A rating with A.M. Best because they are the standard for financial ratings in the insurance world.

Lei Redding:
Every state has an insolvency fund so that if a company does go insolvent, then the state has basically a backup fund where they'll pay, it depends, $200,000 to $300,000 for your home but what I have learned over the years is those claims typically take two years so you're without a home for two years. Then if your home is over that $200,000 or $300,000, depending on whatever the state limit is, you're out-of-pocket that difference in addition to the living expenses for the past two years. So you want to make sure that your home is protected by a financially stable company so that you don't have to worry if a catastrophic event happens you've got someone that's going to pay your bills.

Russ Thornton:
Wow, yeah, thanks for explaining that. I just always want to make sure that we're defining or explaining terms or jargon that might not be familiar to every listener out there.

Russ Thornton:
Another thing you mentioned too is talking about the historic home in Charleston. Where are you based, Lei?

Lei Redding:
So I'm based in Atlanta but I work with clients all over the country. It's interesting, COVID has changed the landscape I think for everyone. While most of my clients had a secondary home before, whether it was a lake home or beach home or ski home, we are now seeing clients buy more homes because if we go into lockdown again or there's another pandemic, families want some place that they can take their loved ones that's safe. They want to get out of their regular house because you go stir crazy after a while. Everybody's got cabin fever.

Lei Redding:
So I'm seeing a lot of families buy homes in the Carolinas. We're seeing a lot of purchases in Florida. Believe it or not, even after the wildfires, a lot of people from the southeast are buying out in California. Then we're also seeing a lot of homes purchased in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Utah. So it depends if you're a beach person or a mountain person or you're on the east coast and want to move to the west coast or vice versa. We're seeing a lot of families just spread out and buy second or third homes and that opens up exposures that they're not used to.

Lei Redding:
If you're from Atlanta, you're not used to dealing with premium based on wind and hurricane exposure or wildfire exposure. While we all think of wildfires in California, they've become an issue in Colorado and Montana as well.

Lei Redding:
So I recommend if you're going to buy a home in a high risk area, go ahead and get quotes during your due diligence period because the first concern could be, they could be two, three, four times higher than what you're expecting. The other issue is, I've had a couple times that have come back pretty much uninsurable because of where they are. All of these insurance companies are really wanting to cut back their exposure, more so in wildfire areas than anywhere else, but we are seeing the rates in Florida just double and triple right now. So that's been a big challenge as well.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, interesting, wow. Yeah, that could be an unpleasant surprise, I guess, for some potential home buyers that are looking for a second home or to relocate or whichever their situation might entail.

Lei Redding:
One other thing while we're talking about Florida, and we mentioned direct writers, captive writers earlier. I'll have a lot of clients that will buy in Florida and for whatever reason, it's not eligible for one of our carriers. If they're with a Demotech carrier like I mentioned earlier that we don't feel is financially stable, I do recommend that they go to a State Farm or a Liberty Mutual, because those are both good companies and if we can't write it, I would rather them be with a solid captive carrier than a small Demotech carrier. So there is a place for those carriers as well.

Lei Redding:
We try to advise our clients on what's best for them. Sometimes it's not always best for them to be with us but if they're in a high risk area and a State Farm or a Liberty Mutual is willing to write them, we always recommend they go with them over a Demotech carrier.

Russ Thornton:
Thank you for sharing that, first of all. I mean, clearly that exemplifies the fact that you want the client to get the best solution for the client, whether you and your company are involved or not. Could you explain real quick what Demotech means, just briefly. Just I'm not clear so I'm sure some of our listeners aren't either.

Lei Redding:
Sure, so Demotech is a rating system similar to A.M. Best, but their requirements are not as stringent as A.M. Best, and so there's really not a high standard to get a Demotech rating, basically.

Russ Thornton:
Got it.

Lei Redding:
So again, find a company that has an A rating with A.M. Best and if it's not eligible for the [Chab 00:23:41] or AIG or [inaudible 00:23:42] of the world, then I would go with a State Farm or a Liberty Mutual in that situation.

Russ Thornton:
Got it, awesome. So we've talked a lot about a success story and about the great work you're doing in helping your clients. What's a common misconception about your work that you'd maybe like to address or clarify that maybe people just misunderstand what it is you do or how it is you can help them or improve their situation?

Lei Redding:
I think a common misconception is insurance is all the same. Car insurance is car insurance, home insurance is home insurance, and it's not. The quality of insurance can be so different from one carrier to another, just like the quality in clothing or cars or anything else. You've got your base version your luxury version. Again, you do get what you pay for. There are some solid carriers, solid middle market carriers that I highly recommend. They've got good ratings, good claims service, solid coverage. Then the same with the high end carriers.

Lei Redding:
So I think the misconception is it's all the same but it's really not. When you're looking to shop your insurance, you want a competitive rate. Nobody likes paying for insurance, I don't like paying for insurance, it's not fun but if you do have a major claim you need the insurance to come to your rescue. So, well, focus on not a cheap quote but focus on a competitive quote. Just like anything else, you probably don't want the most expensive, you probably don't want the cheapest, but you do want a good value for your money.

Lei Redding:
It's important to research claims service, I think that's probably the most important thing after financial stability. You want a company that is going to, if you have a claim, they're going to go into your contract and they're going to look for coverage versus looking for exclusions. There's a lot of gray area in insurance contracts, and so you want a carrier that has adjusters that are going to try to find coverage for you and not try to find exclusions.

Lei Redding:
I have to be careful of who I say find, always look for exclusions versus who looks for coverage, but we only work with clients or with carriers that are looking for coverage. That is another benefit of whether you go with a middle market agent or a high net worth agent, having that independent agent allows them to be more neutral in the process. They're going to be able to shop you with multiple carriers and then make recommendations. They may have three options in the ballpark and they can explain the difference between the claims service. They can explain the differences between the bells and whistles because some of the bells and whistles in one policy may not really benefit you but others might. So it's good to have somebody that's going to work for you and not work for the insurance company itself.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, that makes sense.

Lei Redding:
Speaking of not liking to pay for insurance, one thing we do try to give back to our clients because we do encourage high deductibles because we want to use the insurance as a catastrophic policy, not as a maintenance policy, is we try to give back in ways that are fun. We offer a lot of special events, as well as webinars, since we've been dealing with COVID lately, on things like fine art, on jewelry, on wine. We may do wine tastings for clients that we know are passionate about wine. So we do try to give back and give our clients something a little extra and something unique for the money that they spend with us year over year.

Russ Thornton:
Got it, and that's good to know. Before we wrap up our conversation today, we'll be sure to share how you can get in touch with Lei if anyone has an interesting in reaching out and talking to her about their personal coverage or just learning more. So I'm glad you mentioned that, Lei.

Russ Thornton:
I know earlier when you told the story about the historic home in Charleston and how you helped them increase their coverage by quite a lot and didn't really change their out-of-pocket premiums a whole lot. Clearly that was a great fit and they took your advice and seemed happy to do so, but I'm guessing sometimes occasionally, and hopefully not often but occasionally, you're referred to or introduced to someone and you explain to them what you do and how you can help but they may elect to go a different direction. In the event that happens, what would you say prevents people from following your advice?

Lei Redding:
I'm lucky in the sense, most of the clients I work with are coming from trusted advisors. So there's typically some trust there built already. I think if there's something that prevents them from taking my advice, they may be very price sensitive where we might be a little more but we're offering a lot more coverage but they just feel strongly about, they don't need the extra coverage, or they'll use the extended replacement cost if they have to.

Lei Redding:
Luckily, I don't run into that a lot because when I present to someone and I'm coming in, if I'm coming in $2,000 higher on a $30,000 account that's not a big deal, if I'm coming in $2,000 higher on a $10,000 account, that's a much bigger deal. So if I'm working with somebody and I feel like it's really a toss up, as to whether they move with me or stay with State Farm for example, I will go ahead and let them know, these are my recommendations whether you move forward with me or whether you stay with State Farm, because I truly believe in being properly insured. If you can get the right insurance less expensive at another company, then so be it. If that company can provide what you need, then that's fine.

Lei Redding:
I would say the majority of the people that switch over to me do end up paying a little more but they're getting a lot more coverage but I guess I always approach it in, these are my recommendations whether you come with me or stay where you are, or if I feel like there are times where I can offer coverage to someone. Say they're right at that $1 million threshold but I'm not sure that it's worth the extra money they would have to pay. They might be able to get the same coverage from a high end middle market carrier for a lot less, then I'll let them know. Hey, I can offer this to you but I really think you should call this person. I've got a lot of friendly competitors in that middle market arena, and specifically ask them to quote you with these two carriers because I think you'll get all the bells and whistles you need but probably for a more reasonable price.

Lei Redding:
So again, I'm here to advise the client more so than try to make them fit in my box. Does that make sense?

Russ Thornton:
It does, yeah. I think that's a helpful and a thoughtful explanation of the fact that, like you've already shared with us multiple times in our conversation, that you're really out to serve the right people the right way. Hopefully in a lot of situations that's you helping them directly, but if that's referring them to another or more economical solution given their situation, that sounds like you're happy to do that, which I think is fantastic. I wish there were more of that in professional services these days, frankly.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, if let's say a high school senior or a maybe a college student. Let's say it's maybe it's a child of one of my clients or someone else listening to this, if they said, "Wow, I really like what Lei is describing and the work she does and the fact that she really gets to build longterm relationships with her clients," and they're interested in maybe getting into your field and doing what you do. What advice or guidance would you give to someone like that? Let's say someone that's getting ready to graduate high school or is in college, for example.

Lei Redding:
I think the insurance industry is a fantastic choice for someone starting their career. There are so many different avenues of success and careers in our industry, there's really a place for everyone regardless of your skills, talents, or goals. Insurance is not going away, and so I think the property and casualty space is a very secure space for anyone wanting to build a life and a career because even when we saw... when COVID happened is about the time I was starting my own company. I thought, oh my gosh, what's going to happen? I had my best year ever this past year because the insurance is always going to be a necessity for everyone whether you're in the commercial space or the pers-line space. So I think having that stability is great.

Lei Redding:
I actually hired someone right out of Georgia this past year to work with me, and he's been fantastic. I had put the job description out in the risk management department because that's typically where people come. They get risk management degrees to get into insurance. Ended up hiring somebody with a finance degree, and because we work with so many wealth advisors and attorneys, having that financial background has helped him understand our clients, where they're coming from and what their goals are. So that's been interesting to watch, that someone from a different industry is flourishing in my industry, and it's been a benefit to us as well as to the clients to have somebody with a different perspective.

Lei Redding:
So I think the job opportunities in insurance are just fantastic. We have a very aging industry, so I think there's a lot of job security for young people coming in. I believe it was a couple of years ago, they said 80% of our industry was going to be at retirement age over the next 10 years. So I think that's a lot of opportunity for young people to come in. There's so many ways you can go, you can do advising, adjusting, claims, management. There's just so many different avenues, marketing. So I think it's definitely something young people should consider.

Russ Thornton:
Well first of all, thanks for sharing that. First of all, congratulations on having such a great year, your best yet, that's fantastic-

Lei Redding:
Thank you.

Russ Thornton:
... especially in the wake of starting your own company. There's always some risk and uncertainty surrounding that, so that's fantastic. I couldn't be happier for you.

Russ Thornton:
Another question I was going to ask which you started to address is, you said you originally posted the job description in the risk management department at... it sounds like at UGA. Then you end up hiring someone out of the finance department. So are there any specific classes or maybe courses of study that you would recommend to someone that's interested in getting into insurance? I can see the appeal of risk management clearly, but is there anything else that you think would help round out someone's skillset that might make them more likely to find success in the type of work you do?

Lei Redding:
I think the opportunities are so varied in our industry, you could really probably major in just about anything and find that useful. What I have learned from this experience and moving forward is, I will probably when looking at college graduates, focus on financial versus the risk management. I think most people that go into risk management are focused on commercial insurance. I think rarely are they thinking about personal insurance. I think people in the financial majors don't realize insurance is so intertwined with finance and estate planning. So I think that's some education that our industry can learn from and educate these young people on careers that they would not have considered before.

Lei Redding:
A lot of people end up in insurance by accident. Very few people actually say, "I'm going to be an insurance agent," or, "I'm going to be an insurance adjuster," it just happens in a roundabout way. The young man that came to work for me actually had a job as an analyst with Delta and they rescinded their offers due to COVID. He got some other offers with big corporations but after our discussions he loved the idea of being part of a startup, which is what I love about hiring young people, is they have a fresh energy and perspective that they bring to the table.

Lei Redding:
So it's turned into something he never realized was possible and he would've never gotten into this industry if COVID had not shut down his other options, but it's something that he's really taken to and is making plans for a long career with us, which I think is interesting because he's able to work with financial advisors and the estate planning attorneys and the real estate agents. So he's using his education but in a totally different way than he ever expected.

Lei Redding:
So I think as the economy shifts, I think as the job market shifts, if things become a challenge, if your plans go off track a little bit due to the new world that we're living in, consider insurance because it is unique and there's a lot of opportunities that I think most of us would not have known about if we had not fallen into it in some way.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, yeah, that's an interesting take and I appreciate your perspective there. Just out of curiosity, do you see yourself continuing to hire and grow your firm in the future or are you just taking it a day at a time at this point?

Lei Redding:
Definitely planning on growing, because we work with clients all over the country, I do want to have a presence around. I always want to stay boutique because I take a lot of pride in having that boutique feel, that concierge level service, but my plan is to have an office in New York because we've got a lot of concentration there. An office in South Florida, and then on the west coast because I do think it's important to have a presence near your clients and to have people that can focus on those unique exposures around the country.

Russ Thornton:
Oh, that's exciting. Is that a one to three year plan or is that more like three to five plus years or is it going to really just be dictated based on what's going on in the world and how fast you're growing?

Lei Redding:
I think New York is the one to three year plan. I think the other offices are in the five year plan, but what I've learned is to have a plan and then go with the flow because you just... things have always... I've been very lucky, things have always turned out better than I planned but I do think you need a plan to follow but then I'm willing to evolve as things happen.

Russ Thornton:
I hope everyone heard what she just said, that there's a lot of value in having a plan but you also need to be flexible and be willing to adjust. There's a lot of financial planning wisdom in that comment as well. So just don't lose sight of that because I think that was very well said.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, so this podcast is all about retirement for women and their families. When you think about the word retirement, what comes to mind for you personally?

Lei Redding:
Freedom. I look forward to the day that I get to retire. Well, if I survive raising teenagers and everything else. So I think of it as a beautiful thing, I think of it as freedom, I think of it as time to do the things that you haven't had time to do while you were raising a family or building a career and just dealing with the every day life.

Lei Redding:
Specifically as a women I think, and I'm divorced, and I'm the breadwinner for my family. So this is dear to my heart and I appreciate you including me in on this podcast, Russ, but I think it's very important as women to protect our assets. You do such a good job guiding people on the investments and the retirement aspect of that. I want to be a resource for people protecting their insurable assets, because your house is very important. When you're in retirement, that is not the time to leave things like that exposed.

Lei Redding:
One of the other gaps in coverage I see often is low auto limits. We're living in a litigious society and everybody asks me, "Why are auto rates, they keep climbing?" It's because it seems like every fender bender turns into a lawsuit. So I think it's very important as you look towards retirement and getting all your ducks in a row, and making sure your home is property insured, making sure your auto limits are appropriate, making sure you've got an excess liability or umbrella policy over both of those items in case there's a catastrophic [inaudible 00:41:23] accident, because that way once you're on retirement, you can enjoy the freedom. You can have the peace of mind knowing that you've got somebody that has your back for the unexpected.

Russ Thornton:
I love that you used the word freedom, that comes up a lot when I have conversations around what retirement means to people. Curious though, with the idea of freedom, would you say that you're actually already pursuing that idea, having started your own company? Clearly, there's a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into starting and running and growing and having a successful company like you've build, but do you get a sense of freedom from having that additional layer of independence and basically being your own boss?

Lei Redding:
Absolutely, I am having so much fun. It was nice having the security of the corporate salary and benefits and all of that, but that will easily be made up very quickly, but I love... I've been on the independent agency side, I've worked for the large national brokerage, so I've seen a little bit of everything. I've been very lucky to work with some amazing people over the years.

Lei Redding:
So for me, this is my creative outlet. I love what I do, I love my clients and love helping people, but it also allows me to take the best of everything that I've learned and to package it perfectly for my future clients, and to learn from all the mistakes that I saw from everything from the small independent to the large national brokerages and make sure that we avoid those mistakes so that we can give the best experience ever.

Lei Redding:
So I guess I'm not really creative, I come from a family of entrepreneurs for generations, and this is my creativity, this is where I get to have fun and really play with the services and the resources that we can offer. Again, which is why I try to bring the fun into it with wine, education events and fine art and jewelry and things like that, because there's no reason we shouldn't have fun with it. There's no reason we shouldn't enjoy it. Clients pay a lot of money for their insurance so it's the least I can do is to give back in some way and give them some type of value they're going to enjoy, even if they don't have a claim.

Russ Thornton:
So I can hear your passion and excitement for what you do, which is just so awesome to hear, but something that comes to my mind is I wonder... and maybe you haven't thought about this but I wonder if there's maybe some tension between the fact that retirement to you means freedom but you're also get some freedom from starting and running your own business and it sounds like you're having a blast. Can you imagine retiring in the traditional sense sometime, either selling or transitioning your business to someone else, or do you think you'll always do some kind of work even if it's in a maybe a reduced or dialed back capacity at some point down the road?

Lei Redding:
I think I will always stay involved. Insurance agents are known to work until they're taken off to the funeral home, it's just the way it is. I've seen, I've worked with some wonderful people who literally worked until the day that they died because insurance is such an interesting opportunity where you can build a book of business and get to a point where you're comfortable, and then just continue taking care of those clients and have the assistance with a really great staff so that you can manage that without being chained to the desk every day. So I do think I will always be involved in some capacity.

Lei Redding:
I love what I do, I can't see myself sell. I have no interest in selling because I'm building something that's important and I want it to continue, but I do see myself passing the torch for the day today. In fact, the young man that works with me now, he's just taken it by the horns and he's doing such a great job and he loves being part of a startup and he comes from a family of entrepreneurs. I worked for so many people over the years that trained me and taught me and that passed the torch to me in ways. I'm having a lot of fun doing that as well. So that while we are in the start and building phase, I'm also training the next generation which is fun because I see a lot of success in the future, not just for myself but for this younger generation that is discovering a really cool career path that they never knew about.

Russ Thornton:
That just ultimately broadens the impact and the number of people that you can help, even if it's indirectly through the people that you're bringing along and training and passing along your skills and experiences to, which I think just is fantastic. So that's... I'm excited, I look forward our continuing to keep in touch and maybe having this conversation again in a couple years and maybe hearing about your New York office and expansion and continued growth and things like that. I'm really excited for you, Lei.

Lei Redding:
Well, thank you, Russ, I would love that.

Russ Thornton:
How would you say, as we start to wrap up our conversation today, how would say that your work impacts women and their families as they plan for or think about transitioning in retirement? I think you've already touched on this but just to put a fine point on it. What would you say is the retirement impact of your work for women or women's families?

Lei Redding:
I think the impact is peace of mind, when you've got good insurance coverage, it's one less thing to worry about so that you can focus on doing the things you've always wanted to do that you've got the time to do now.

Lei Redding:
I have a special place in my heart for working with women because when I got divorced years ago, I didn't really have... and it was before I was in the insurance industry, I didn't have anybody to explain these things to me and to help me understand what I needed, what I didn't need, and navigate me. So I love working with women, I love navigating them on what they need. I've worked with so many that have gone through a divorce, I've worked with so many who are winding down their careers and going into retirement. To be able to sit down with them and discuss their goals and their plans and to tailor what we can do to protect their assets so that they don't have to think about it, they can let us worry about it and they can move on with their lives. That's very rewarding.

Lei Redding:
So I think again, you're such a great advisor to your clients, they know you, they trust you. I think it's just as important to find an insurance agent that you know and trust that's going to make sure that you're protected in retirement and to educate you before you take that step. It's never too late, if you're already retired, meet with your agent. Talk to them, ask them questions, have everything reviewed, but if you haven't retired yet, now's the time to start getting everything in place so that you can figure out what your budget's going to be and what changes you may want to make.

Lei Redding:
Often in retirement it's when people are buying those condos in Florida or building a house elsewhere. So talk to your insurance agent and find out what will help mitigate the premium increases from being on the coast or being in a wildfire area. There's a lot of things you can learn before you make that investment in a condo or a home, that if you've got two or three choices, they may all be around the same price point in the market but insurance could be drastically different. So just use your insurance agent as an advisor before you make these financial decisions.

Russ Thornton:
I think your perspective and the way you answered that is one of the reasons why I like you so much. I mean, I think you could've taken the words right out of my mouth. I mean, clearly it's important for me to serve women and to help them as they deal with transitions into retirement or the next chapter of their lives. Just like I believe in the importance of financial planning and retirement planning and preparing your financial assets for the rest of your life, clearly you've got a passion around protecting their home and cars and property and insurable assets for many of the same reasons. So, I think that's fantastic and I appreciate you sharing that with us.

Russ Thornton:
Clearly you're running a growing business, you've got an employee now, you have plans to probably add more employees. So I'm imaging your time is always at a premium, but if you had an hour or two just to yourself, how do you most enjoy spending time when you've got a little time to yourself?

Lei Redding:
Lately I have enjoyed reading historical fictions. I love anything based on life because I think life is more interesting than fiction even. Right now I'm reading Mistress of the Ritz, which is an interesting story about the Ritz in Paris back during the war and how it played a role in the war and the resistance and I find it so fascinating. So reading a good book with a good glass of wine is perfect.

Russ Thornton:
Awesome, awesome, thank you. So we've gone a little longer than I had planned, but I feel like you and I can probably talk for another couple of hours and time would just fly by, but if there were one thing, and we clearly covered a lot, but if there were one thing, Lei, that our listeners could take away from our conversation today, what would you want that one singular thing to be? That could be an action item or just something to think about, but what would you want the one takeaway to be for our listeners?

Lei Redding:
There are a lot of good insurance agents out there in both the middle market and high net worth space. So take a look at your insurance documents, pull out your [inaudible 00:51:50] pages, read over them, and then reach out to your insurance agent, if you don't have one that you work with or you don't have an independent agent, ask a trusted advisor like Russ, who they recommend. But I think it's important to find someone that you can call and that you know is going to give you the best advice for your situation because you just can't beat having an advisor and someone you can trust and call to make sure that everything's in place.

Russ Thornton:
Perfect, that's yeah, that's a great way to wrap things up today. Before we close things out, Lei, anything you want to add or anything that we haven't touched on that you wanted to make sure to share with our listeners, including by the way, what's the best way for people to get in touch with you or to learn more or to get a better understanding of who you are and the work you're doing?

Lei Redding:
Okay, well if you want to learn more, you can go to my website at reddingprivateclient.com, or you can reach out to me at (678) 895-6138. We also have an email option on our website and that goes straight to me, so feel free to shoot me an email if you've got any questions or if you're interested in a review.

Lei Redding:
But Russ, I appreciate your time and appreciate you including me in this. I think it's so important to assist women with the important phases of their life and I think retirement's one of the most important.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, well you're preaching to the choir, I couldn't agree more, but. We'll be sure, by the way, to share all of Lei's contact information, website address and things like that in the show notes. So be sure to reach out to Lei, she's a wonderful person and clearly if you don't know already based on our conversation today, she is truly a helper and wants to help you or other folks like you find the best solution for your situation. So don't hesitate to reach out to her.

Russ Thornton:
Lei, it's been an absolutely pleasure talking to you as always. Let's definitely circle back and have this conversation again in a few months or a couple years and check back in and see where you're at at that point.

Lei Redding:
That sounds good, thank you so much, Russ, I appreciate it.

Russ Thornton:
Absolutely, we'll talk to you again soon. Thanks, everyone, for listening to this episode of Women's Retirement Radio. We look forward to catching up with you on the next episode.