Hello Fidelity colleagues. My posting here is meant for those of you who may be struggling with your decision on whether to accept the VBO offer or not. I am sharing with you a perspective from my 2017 experience and some advice based on the experience and the aftermath. I have never posted anything online before. I think I have pressed the thumbs up 3 or 4 times on LinkedIn posts and that it is. Never a single comment. This is the first time I feel like I have something worth sharing. Something I feel strongly about and, most of all, something I wish I had back in 2017 when I struggled up until the 23rd hour of the final day (3/27/17 not that I dwell on it). Namely, a person with this experience to tell me to stop the needless worrying, knock it off, and click accept.
I want to start by congratulating all of you on receiving this generous offer. I hope for all of you that you take the time to celebrate yourselves and the fact that 20 or 25 or 30 years ago you walked into a Fidelity building and started the interview process. There is no better company to work for. No company that is as well run, as forward thinking and as generous. If you spent time this past week losing sleep or wishing this offer was delivered to you 2 years in the future, stop it. Do a dance, have some champagne, high five yourself for working at the firm and quit your internal moaning. If you do decide to take a role at a different company after accepting this gift from the firm, you’ll realize before your first week is over that there is only one Fidelity and you were so fortunate to have worked there.
Next, I want to share with you the following:
Realize that you have been injected with a poison. The VBO is a poison. The only antidote for the poison is to accept the offer. If you decline it, the poison will eat away at you beginning on July 1, 2021 when you look around the Zoom and realize many of your friends are gone. By the middle of July, you will be staring out the window at a bright summer day thinking ‘I should be at the beach with my significant other, my kids, by myself or packing to go to Australia instead of staring at this screen listening to somebody drone on about speed, agility, budgets, etc.’. Every morning you will wake up and chastise yourself for turning it down. You won’t believe you turned it down. That internal voice of yours will mock you and you won’t like it. Your wonderful feelings and memories of the firm and your career will start to be eaten away by the poison. By the end of 2021 you will be engaging in silly rumor mongering that the VBO will be offered again in 2022 and checking this site for confirmation. It won’t be. Take the offer.
You have way more money that will go way farther than you realize. Search on average 401K balance for a person your age has or, better yet, use the netbenifits mobile app – go to Learn and select Compare Retirement Savings. See how you are at the top of the top.
You are highly marketable. If you want another job it easier than you think. You cannot possibly appreciate the Fidelity brand and what you have learned here and what you bring with you until you go someplace else and interview. People want what you have in terms of experience, knowledge and leadership. Please don’t think about not knowing how to search for a job or people not wanting someone at your age. Plenty of good opportunities. And remember, you had your career here. Your next job will be a job. Your career will always be Fidelity. It does not wash off. When you are in your 90s you may forget a few things but I bet you will remember your A#.
Your Terms – This is your opportunity to go out with your head high, joined by your friends and colleagues and happy about it. If you stay you may be hearing Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ over and over in your head.
Immediately following your personal celebration that I recommended above, find and watch Seinfeld Season 9, Episode 16 entitled The Burning. The plot line involving George is one of the most important lessons in life and critical to your VBO thought process. It is on Hulu and portions are on YouTube. I’m serious here. Watch it and learn. Get the free Hulu trial if need be.
Next, make a sign and hang it next to the bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator that proclaims; ‘I will not starve’. It’s natural to think you are putting your family at risk by taking this offer. Natural but silly. Go look at your total worth on fidelity.com (I hate that emoney FullView interface don’t you? Can you believe how difficult it is to add or get rid of an account? The rest of the site is so good. Why is this thing so bad?). Go search what it takes to be in the top 10% wealth in this country and realize you are in the top 5% or more likely 2% - or higher, thank Fidelity for that, and tell yourself ‘I got this. Nobody I am responsible for is going hungry’.
Next, do the math. Figure out how long you would have to work to get beyond what is in the offer. Most of you would have to work for 18-24 months before you get beyond the offer. Why would you do that? Ask yourself ‘will I be here in 2023? If I am, will I want to be?’ They are offering to pay you until then and continue to pay their portion of the health care. Why would you work for that instead? The bonus & profit sharing? It doesn’t come close to free money for doing nothing in return. Why are you worrying about 2 years from now? If you don’t think you can land a decent job in that time, guess what – Fidelity will figure that out as well and you will get the standard Job Elimination package in the future.
Make Your Pros and Cons list. Write them down in columns and then role play with a good friend. Have your friend play you and present the cons. Hear how silly they sound coming from another. Mock your friend as he presents the cons. It will feel good. If ‘I won’t be able to pay for my child’s education’ is on your list, please realize that you will if you need to. You are in the top 5-1% of wealth in the US. Let the other 95% worry.
Make an appointment with a Fidelity Planning and Guidance team member. It amazes me how many Fidelity associates in their 50s don’t have an existing relationship. It’s like a health care professional that never goes for a check-up. Review your goals and obligations and have them run the Monte Carlo simulator for you and be utterly amazed on how much you will leave behind when you depart earth decades from now.
Call somebody who took the offer in 2017. Ask them if they starved or ended up on public assistance. Ask them if they needed the latest Covid Relief Stimulus check to save them. Ask them if they were able to find a job if they wanted one. Ask them if it was a good decision for them.
Fantasize. Take some time, take a long walk and imagine what it will be like to not open Zoom or a PowerPoint for a few months and what it would be like to take the family someplace and splurge as the world opens up. Imagine coming back from that wonderful trip and not having to worry about an Outlook mailbox full of issues.
Remember. Spend some precious time recalling all the great people that you have worked with and the things you accomplished together. Remember all the funny things, late nights and weekend conference calls and how it was these people and teams, empowered by the Fidelity spirit and confidence, that got you here. Then realize those wonderful memories are treasures to take with you as a gift. Protect them by taking the offer.
Most important – Click accept now. You have until June to change your mind. Take this VBO for a spin. If you click reject now you can’t take it back. So please, I urge you, accept it and spend the next 10+ weeks seeing what it feels like. It is utterly amazing the firm allows you this extra time. Click accept now and put that first decision behind you. If you change your mind in June there is no dark force with a clipboard putting your name on a flip flopper list. There is no retribution for changing your mind. Do not reject this offer before March 30th. To quote a long line of Fidelity senior managers, ‘That’s unacceptable’. You can work on your resume, talk to your industry contacts, etc. See how many opportunities are out there if you want to and how easy it will be for you to land long before your package is spent. I would recommend you not spend any time on LinkedIn and instead spend time on airbnd looking at beach homes for the month of July. Someplace you have always wanted to go. Don’t settle for anything less than beachfront. You earned it.
You can read Part 2 if you are interested in how it turned out for me in 2017.