Shelf Life: CFP Jon Ten Haagen Uses Writing to Make Sense of Numbers

Jon Ten Haagen is a Huntington certified financial planner who aims to increase people’s financial understanding through writing.

“I’ve been in the business since ’82,” Ten Haagen said before adding, “I’m one of the dinosaurs.”

Jokes aside, the founder of Ten Haagen Financial Group takes pride in his experience, especially in a time where others embrace the-no-certification-required umbrella title, “financial adviser.”

Ten Haagen often speaks on behalf of the initial and continued training necessary to maintain financial planning certification. He said proficiency is especially important to help clients make well-educated choices, best suited to their goals and needs. “I pride myself in listening more than I talk,” Ten Haagen said. “When I listen, let me listen to what it is you’re really telling me.”

Even among those with certification, Ten Haagen has observed peers give presentations that don’t connect with people. “I just cringe,” Ten Haagen said of one peer’s typical approach. “He’s not giving clients bad things, but he is giving them things that nobody understands except him.”

“Inevitably with the vast majority of clients you’ll find, ‘Oh, talk to my husband. Talk to my wife. They take care of the finances’,” Ten Haagen said. “That’s all well and good, until the one that does all the financial stuff dies, or divorces.” In response to insufficient client knowhow and the confusing jargon of providers, Ten Haagen wanted to make the world of finance more accessible to all.

With that goal in mind, Ten Haagen went on to write a regular financial column for the Long Islander. “You take the highfalutin fancy words out of there and put everything into layman’s terms,” he said of the articles he wrote over the next three and a half years. He covered topics from the basics of the stock market, to 401(k)s, to saving strategies for new parents. Ten Haagen found reassurance as he received reoccurring comments like, “I really appreciate your articles” and “I understand what you’re telling me.”

Now, in an effort to reach a more widespread audience, Ten Haagen compiled many of these articles into a book. Charting Your Course Toward a Comfortable Retirement emphasizes facing retirement finances head-on, as soon as possible. Ten Haagen believes an earlier start makes for a more manageable long-term plan. “Say I want to retire at 65,” he said in an example. “If I start [preparing] at 30, this much is what I have to invest every month at this percentage. But if I start at 40 or 50 or 60, things just get bigger and bigger and impossible.”

Ten Haagen hopes his book will bring attention and clarity to the retirement component of finance. “It’s to get people to be aware,” he said. “And, hopefully, after reading this they’re going to go, ‘You know? He’s the guy you should talk to.’”

In both his writing and his financial practice, Ten Haagen finds fulfilment in helping others. “This is my mission in life at this point,” Ten Haagen said. “I don’t want to retire. I want to help anybody and everybody I can.”

More information about Jon Ten Haagen and his upcoming book release can be found on his website and Facebook page. supports literacy efforts. If you have book-related information you’d like to share, email Molly Prep.

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