July 23, 2019

The HUB: New financial company puts education first

Chris Kirkpatrick

Chris Kirkpatrick

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Williston native Chris Kirkpatrick wants to help Vermonters take control of their financial future. 

“The more I looked at the industry and saw how broken the system was, the more I wanted to create something that gave people a different solution and a different way of viewing how money works,” he said. “I wanted to start a company that more than anything else was really focused on education…. The real goal basically is to simplify financial confusion.”

Kirkpatrick launched LIFE180—the letters stand for Leading Into Financial Excellence—in November, with the goal of teaching people to be self-empowered with their money and addressing systematic problems of financial planning. 

When more that nine out of 10 people find themselves at retirement age without enough money saved to keep up their standard of living, he said, it can’t just be each individual’s fault. 

“It’s hard to look someone in the eye and say ‘Listen, Bob and Sue, you didn’t do your job and it’s your fault,’” he said. “It’s really hard to blame the individual. It’s very much more of a systematic issue. It comes down to lack of education.”

Kirkpatrick said his process is based on education and changing the way people think about money and saving. 

“The ultimate goal is to really just educate people to a totally different way of thinking about their money and to challenge people to look at their financial lives and realize you can’t fix anything you’re not willing to put some time and effort into,” he said.

The first question he asks each client is, given what they are currently doing to plan for the future, do they know what rate of return they would need to make sure they can retire and live at their current standard of living? 

He said, of approximately 5,000 people he has asked, only one person has known the answer.

“If nobody knows the answer to that question, does anybody really have a financial plan or are they just throwing around money and hoping for the best?” he said. “If you have no plan and you don’t know what you need to do, what are the chances you’re going to accomplish what you want to accomplish?” 

The answer doesn’t have to be complicated, he said. He focuses on removing financial inefficiencies, like not having a budget or paying too much for insurance.

“We try to break it down and show people you don’t need to have a really complex financial plan to navigate your life and operate efficiently,” he said.

He said he also wants to reach out to as many people as possible, especially those who feel they aren’t in a position to save. 

“One of things we have as a mission is to reach out to Main Street America and be able to help the people and coach the people who don’t feel like they qualify to have a financial advisor,” he said.

Before launching LIFE180, Kirkpatrick was director of recruiting and development at National Life in Vermont. Before that, he was a professional poker player, reaching a ranking of 64th in the world. 

“I’m just a numbers guy,” he said.

Now, he has a staff of 14.

“It’s growing faster than I anticipated,” he said.

Kirkpatrick said he’d like to see LIFE180 become a national organization, starting in Vermont and growing outward. 

“I think the country needs what we do,” he said. “ I see the financial industry going through some major changes in the next decade. We’re trying to be ahead of that curve and be there to help people put themselves in a position where they have control of their financial lives.”

For more information, visit www.life180.com

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