As a Commercial Real Estate Broker, Are You Ignoring Your Retirement Plan

By Sean Gerlin, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU® 

As a commercial real estate broker, you likely enjoy certain perks, such as high earning potential and being your own boss. Like most of our clients, you probably want to retire earlier than is typical, but are you actively working toward a retirement plan? Despite the high income that comes with your position, you may not be on track to retire when you want if you don’t take concrete steps to prioritize your long-term goals. Here are three questions to ask yourself as you look toward the future and plan for early retirement. 

What Does Retirement Look Like?

The first step in planning for retirement is understanding what it looks like for you. Do you want to continue working part-time as a consultant? Start an entirely new, second-act career? Or stop working altogether? 

Depending on your choice, your retirement plan will look completely different. Those who plan to retire early, and retire completely will need a larger nest egg to support them through retirement, whereas those who plan to continue working will not have to save as much.

When Will You Stop Working?

The next question to ask yourself: When do I plan to stop working? Many of our clients retire early, in their mid to late 50s, but that lifestyle is not for everyone. It is a strategic choice that should be given thorough consideration. You may want to factor in when your kids will be out of the house, when or if you plan to pay for college expenses, upgrade your home, or make other major purchases. 

Generally speaking, all those goals will be easier to accomplish when you have a stream of steady income coming in as opposed to waiting until you have to dip into your retirement savings. Not only that, but holding off on your retirement can allow you to save less up front since you have more time to earn.

How Will You Preserve the Estate & Maximize Portfolio Longevity?

It’s one thing to build a solid nest egg when you have years of high-earning potential left to weather a market downturn. It’s an entirely different thing to rely solely on your retirement savings when volatility arises. Because of this, it is crucial to plan ahead for the inevitable market downturns you will experience at some point in retirement. By factoring this cushion into your plan ahead of time, you can maximize your portfolio longevity and minimize your risk of having to sell assets to cover expenses.

This goes hand in hand with preserving your estate. The less you have to draw down from your retirement principal, the more you will have left to pass on as your legacy. 

One way to preserve your estate and maximize portfolio longevity is to save aggressively in pre-tax vehicles (like 401(k)s or traditional IRAs) in years where you are earning significant income. Then, when your income is lower (perhaps during the first few years of early retirement), utilize Roth conversions to transform your pre-tax savings into tax-free savings. You will have to pay taxes on the amount converted, but afterward you will enjoy tax-free growth and no required minimum distributions. This can be an extremely effective way to build up your portfolio in a tax-efficient way.

Last, but certainly not least, commercial real estate brokers should be planning for the transition of their business early and often. The more you can maximize the value of your business, and structure your succession plan in a way that provides for your retirement (whether that be retaining a partnership interest or outright selling), the less you will have to save up front, and the more likely you will be able to maintain your lifestyle without drawing down too much of your portfolio.  

Don’t Ignore Your Retirement Plan

Even highly successful individuals like commercial real estate brokers need to plan ahead for retirement. It’s not enough to earn a high income, a successful retirement requires thoughtful planning and consistency. To get started on your ideal retirement plan, schedule a no-obligation introductory phone call or reach out to me at or 407.720.6535.

About Sean

Sean Gerlin is founder, principal, and a financial planner at Envision Wealth Planners, an independent financial advisory firm founded on the core values of family, honesty, and a determination to be a master of the trade. With almost 10 years of experience, Sean specializes in serving affluent families and commercial real estate executives and brokers, providing comprehensive, customized financial guidance and services for their complex financial needs. Sean acts as a family CFO, managing and coordinating the many moving pieces of his clients’ financial lives. Sean is known for his commitment to building long-term relationships and paying personal attention to each client. He is passionate about helping his clients experience the relief that comes from having organized and well-planned strategies and portfolios, and he desires to help them by shouldering some of the financial burdens they face.

Sean has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Consultant®, and Chartered Life Underwriter® certifications. When he’s not working, you can find him cooking, eating good food, traveling, coaching his son’s baseball team, or playing golf. He loves spending time with his wife, Nicole, and their two kids, Avery and Will, and entertaining friends in their beautiful backyard. To learn more about Sean, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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