If you live into your mid-80s, your retirement could last about 8,000 days, says Ann Wiesbrock, president of Covenant Trust Company, or 22 years, roughly the same amount of time from birth to graduating from university. That amount of time is worthy of planning and preparation, and Wiesbrock has been helping people to prepare for retirement for the past 12 years in her role at Covenant Trust. This fall she announced that it is now her turn.
When she began considering whether the time was right to step away, she knew it was not just a numbers game. “When you love what you do, and you consider it a privilege to do it, retirement can also feel like a calling,” she says.
She says the first four years she was at Covenant Trust were all about figuring out the work; then it was time to focus on the growth of the business. Recent years have been about building a team of leaders who can take Covenant Trust to a new level. “Of all the projects I have been a part of, building this team of outstanding trust and investment professionals is possibly my greatest contribution,” she says.
Like many people for whom work is a calling, it’s hard to know when the time is right to step away. Yet Wiesbrock recognized that some people plan for retirement but don’t get a chance to enjoy those projected 8,000 days. One day after leaving a funeral for a friend, she and her husband, Dan, who retired five years ago, agreed that it was time to think about fulfilling some other life goals.
“Early on, I thought of retirement as the end of your life’s work,” she says, “but my work here has helped me to see it differently. Retirement can fall along the continuum of living out your purpose. It’s a chance to be more intentional about your passions because you are not so focused on earning a wage.”
She adds that at Covenant Trust helping people think about planning for their retirement means beginning with a conversation about their values, what is most important to them—and then their mission, purpose, and call. And they ask how Covenant Trust can help create ways to step into a different stage of that calling, a different expression of purpose.
One client expressed to Wiesbrock that her vision for retirement was to save enough to support herself as a missionary, so wherever she served, they wouldn’t have to worry about paying her a salary. For someone else, it might be about spending more time with their adult children, helping raise grandkids, planting a community garden, or gaining wisdom about other people and cultures.
“Before coming to Covenant Trust, we would ask our clients at the other companies where I worked how they wanted to take care of their families in retirement,” Wiesbrock says. “We never asked what God was calling them to do next. To have financial resources to undergird your life’s purpose as an expression of your faith is a great legacy to help someone secure. But far too many people don’t really want to bring their finances into the light, and we don’t talk about that enough in church. That’s what whole life stewardship is all about.”
As Wiesbrock looks to the future, she is confident that at Covenant Trust, the mission of awakening people to the significance of stewardship will not shift. The next president will be one who is called to help the group of young, diverse, talented professionals flesh out some conversations and ideas they are already having on how to do more for institutions and for individuals.
“As I look ahead to my own retirement, the word that most sums up how I feel now is grateful. It has been the highlight of my career to have served for 12 years in this capacity as the fourth president of Covenant Trust. And I’m grateful that Covenant Trust has helped me prepare for this next phase of living out my life’s purpose.”