Episode 16: Margaritas with Marguerita — Meet Bonnie Yam of Pension Maxima who will talk about the importance of financial wellness

A Note from Marguerita Cheng, CFP® — What a pleasure it was to interview my friend and colleague, the brilliant financial planner and teacher Bonnie Yam. In tonight’s episode of Margaritas with Marguerita we share insight into how women can improve their knowledge of financial matters to gain financial security.

About Bonnie Yam: She has amazing creds, experience, and expertise including being a CFA, CFP, CLU, ChFC, RICP, EA, CVA, CEPA — and a Chartered Financial Analyst and Enrolled Agent. Bonnie graduated from Smith College with a BA in Mathematics and Economics and received an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago. Before starting her Qualified Plan business seven years ago, she was a Financial Manager for Time magazine, New York, and a Hedge Fund Research Analyst for Cheetah Investments, Hong Kong. Bonnie also has extensive experience in investment management, investment fiduciary, and investment education. She is a member of ASPPA, NATP, CFA Institute, and NYSSA.

Jump in: Join us for a Financial Wellness Workout

Click here to have us send you Bonnie’s useful PowerPoint presentation!

Rita: Tell me about your company, Pension Maxima.

Bonnie: We are a 401(k) consulting company.  We help plan sponsors with the 3Fs, “Funds, Fees, Fiduciary,” but a big part outside the 3Fs is employee education. In the past, a sponsor’s biggest concern was the cost. Now, we are seeing their concerns switching over to financial wellness. Happy employees are more productive employees, and that translates to a healthier bottom line for the company. Over the years, I have met so many people at different levels. I have to say, they all have different financial concerns. It doesn’t mean someone who makes more money doesn’t have any financial concerns; it is just different.

Rita: What does financial wellness mean to you?

Bonnie: This is an interesting question. There are multiple levels of needs.  The first level is your basic needs. What is essential is your life. Then comes what is nice to have, your “Wants,” which can be travel, gifts for your loved ones, or an occasional splurge on something deluxe. Then you are happy! Of course, you can also look at your goals in other ways:

  • Financial Stability: Paying for essentials
  • Financial Strategy: Saving up to where you want to go
  • Financial Security: No sweating over the small stuff
  • Financial Freedom: Doing what you want, when you want
  • Financial Abundance:  Money is no longer an issue

Rita: Why is financial wellness so important?

Bonnie: I think it is hard to be happy if you don’t have basic financial security. During the Covid-19 pandemic, if you lost your job or worried about eviction, it was hard to maintain a good perspective in life. Most divorces are triggered due to money concerns.  It is also bad for your health. And if you have enough money to take care of basic needs, more doesn’t necessarily make you happier. Like Bill Gates famously said, a Hamburger still tastes like a hamburger no matter how much money you have.

Rita: What Pearls of Wisdom or actionable advice do you have for our audience?

Bonnie: Start early.  Let compounding work its magic. If you start at 25, save $10,000 a year for only 10 years. Compared that to another person who starts saving at 35—$ 10,000 a year for 30 years. Assuming an investment return of 7%, the person who saved earlier has more money at 65. I was astounded when I saw that math.  10 years at 10,000, so $100000 versus someone who started later, put in $300,000. I would still have more money.

Rita: What do you do for fun?

Bonnie: I spend my spare time reading books and watching cartoons, and playing video games. I also teach at a 10-week financial wellness program. Now I am putting both of my passions together and teaching online, so anyone interested can learn more!

Visit Bonnie’s websitesfinancialwt.com, pensionmaxima.com.