Stephen Lee, J.D., CFP®
Partner, CEO, Wagener-Lee, LLC
Steve Lee has practiced comprehensive financial planning since 1982. An attorney and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, he offers a depth of knowledge and expertise to every client.
“I Love What I Do”
I started my career helping employees – mostly in public schools, hospitals and non-profits – save for retirement. I thoroughly enjoyed assisting them as they charted a path to a secure financial future, developing long-term relationships along the way. In fact, many people I met decades ago are still valued clients and friends today.
I also fulfilled a dream to attend law school with a specific focus on estate and tax planning to help my clients with their wills, trusts and estates.
In 2004, Rick Wagener and I joined forces to build something larger together than we could build alone. Having served together on local boards, we knew and respected the strengths each of us brought to the table. I love what I do. I love helping. In addition to considering all of my clients as personal friends, I really enjoy visiting them in warm places over the winter! I get asked all the time, “When are you going to retire?” and my response is always, “Why would I retire? Helping my clients is very rewarding.”
We all dream of retirement. But Steve helps clients prepare with more than just their investments.
Finding Your Purpose
When clients talk seriously about retiring, I ask, “What are you going to do?” Because I’ve seen some people retire and after two or three years, they end up going back to work. There’s nothing wrong with that. If somebody is retiring from a job they no longer love, and want to do something else, then by all means they should. But if you’re looking at 30 years post-retirement, that’s like another lifetime, and to continue to be happy, most people need a purpose that gets them out of bed in the morning.
Comprehensive financial planning isn’t just about saving money. It’s about living your best life, on your terms.
Funding Your Dreams
I’ve had clients break down and cry in a meeting, thanking me for helping them over the years to do all the things they’re able to do. That’s worth so much more than money. I like being able to develop a plan that clients are comfortable with, despite daily market fluctuations and bear markets. I get a lot of satisfaction out of educating and helping people achieve their dreams.
In some cases, a client might be putting the maximum in their retirement accounts, but neglect money for more immediate needs, which could mean they’re over-funding their retirement. So I also help people with college savings plans and funding other goals, whether it’s home improvement, a car, a wedding, a bar mitzvah, long-term care or even to verbalize their healthcare wishes, should they become incapacitated.
Like many employees at Wagener-Lee, Steve is active in a variety of organizations around Howard County.
Working Hard, Giving Back
I guess I’m just naturally charitably inclined. For over 10 years, we’ve sponsored an annual “Block Party” to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In addition, I’ve supported the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America, the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center, Zaching Against Cancer Foundation, the Living Legacy Foundation, and others. Aside from non-profit work, I’m a past treasurer and director of the Baltimore Association for Financial Planning, a member of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, the American Bar Association/Howard County Bar Association, the National Association of Life Underwriters/Howard County chapter, and a broker for the Howard County Board of Realtors.
I’ve also mentored young people in business and finance for over 20 years, and served on the advisory board for the Academy of Finance in Howard County. Currently, I’m part of the professional division of the Future Business Leaders of America and DECA (a non-profit career and technology student organization) and have served as a judge for their regional and state competitions. I guess if I had a personal philosophy, it would be to “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
In my “previous life” (during college and for nine months after graduation), I was a Park Ranger at the Chincoteague end of Assateague Island and at Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. As one who has always loved the outdoors and nature’s beauty, it was a great experience.
Steve is an attorney, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and registered principal with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. The son of a bricklayer and the first member of his family to attend college, Steve is a graduate of the University of Maryland, earned his master’s degree in business from Johns Hopkins University, and his J.D. degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Steve has two sons and is a longtime resident of Howard Country. He enjoys playing tennis and indoor soccer, and works out with a trainer three mornings a week.
CFP® | CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ |
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., owns the certification marks above, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Attorney services are provided by Stephen J. Lee, Esq. and are not a service offered by Raymond James.
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