financial planner Stephen Zelcer

welcome to Beacon Education

Seminars for Federal Employees and Agencies

welcome to Beacon Education

Stephen Zelcer's Seminars for Federal Employees and Agencies

some of the Federal Agencies I've worked with:

financial planning for federal employees

Financial Literacy & Pre-retirement

Enjoy the benefits of having an accomplished financial planner speak, teach and explain about federal benefits, and your money.

Customize your classes

You decide what you would like your employees to learn.

Leadership & Management

Incorporate business fundamentals into your seminar.

fiduciary advisor for federal employees

Prepackaged off the shelf Training

Choose from the topics below or suggest one when you speak with Stephen.



Know your audience! 

This is an ironclad, inviolable rule. 

Want your employees to be engaged?  Give them the topics they are interested in. 

Want your employees to fall asleep?  Give them a topic that they don’t really have an interest in.

This rule – know your audience – is so obvious, so intuitive, yet training officers still encounter employees that “kvetch” about the classes they offer.  Why?

Because, it turns out that, not only must the training officer know their audience and select the topics of interest, but the instructor also needs to know the audience – the instructor needs to know the questions of interest, what questions will the audience ask, what decisions are weighing on their minds when they ask these questions, and can the instructor give the panoramic view of a subject that satisfactorily answers the questions.

This, too is obvious, but let me illustrate:

Imagine you’re a training officer, and you survey your employees and they tell you they are all interested in a comprehensive training on the Thrift Savings Plan.  Excited with your survey results, you schedule a full-day training on the TSP.  The day comes and the class fills, and the instructor reads off their power point slides, all the data they were able to copy and paste off the internet. 

After a day of sleeping thru the training, your employees return to their desks and get a class evaluation emailed to them.  They score the survey poorly and include the following comments:

  • “Eh”
  • “Didn’t need to be a full-day training”
  • “I could’ve gotten the same information reading a brochure.  Didn’t need a class for that.”

What could the training officer have done differently?  They could have hired a trainer that knows their audience…

…And, my guess is, that’s why you’re on this page.

I’ve learned a lot about Federal employees over the years.  Through my experience of personally delivering over 300 pre-retirement seminars, teaching thousands of Federal employees, and working 1-on-1 with hundreds of federal individuals or couples, I’ve learned (and am still learning!) the questions that are really pressing on the minds of your employees, and I have arranged my presentation to be as engaging as possible.

Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to what federal employees are saying in my testimonials below.

It’s time for your agency to deliver the full “know your audience” experience. 
Contact me today to get started.

Bring Stephen to your Agency

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Beacon Education Offerings

Lunch & Learn

Top Retiree Mistakes: Working for 30 years is a long time, right? Well, retirement could last just as long, if not longer! Learn about some key pitfalls that await the unprepared retirees, and the ways to avoid them. Take the right steps now to increase the longevity of your finances and your retirement.

• What’s your retirement game plan?

• Is L-Income fund right for retirees?

• Long Term Care woes!

• Estate Planning woes!

Eligibility for benefits: How do you qualify?

• Computation of benefits

• Benefits for family members • Survivor benefits

• Taking early vs. late

• Spousal Benefits

• Is Life Insurance necessary for everybody?

• Calculate what amount if insurance your survivor needs

• Assess what type of Life Insurance policy is best for you:

• FEGLI, Survivor Benefits, Term, Whole Life

“Is there a chance you will outlive your retirement income? Not if you have an annuity! But not all annuities are created the same. Find out the pros and cons of different annuities, including the TSP annuity.”

• What is an annuity?

• Fixed vs. Variable annuities

• The different TSP annuity payout options

There are specific retirement times in a year, a month, a pay-period that will yield you more money.

Learn how to:

• Maximize COLAs

• Minimize taxation

• Get paid the quickest

• Get free money!

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Over our careers we have a lot of money pass through our hands. Learn the ways to capitalize on this money simply by minimizing your losses. In this course we’ll explore commonly overlooked, underutilized and misunderstood techniques to retain as much money as you can before it slips away. Topics will include:

• Understanding negative rates of return

• Scheduled losses: taxes & debt

• Lost opportunity cost

• Comparing negative returns to positive returns

• Repaying Loans (student, auto, home, credit cards)

People plan for retirement and they plan for death (ie. Estate Planning), but people neglect planning for that period in life between retirement and death. It’s not the happiest of topics, but the need for long term care my compromise the best of retirement and estate plans. Learn what you can do, in this class on Long Term Care. Topics will include:

• What is Long Term Care (LTC)?

• How much you’ll need to self-insure

• Medicaid Planning

• Factors that influence the cost of LTC insurance

• What you can and can’t get with LTCFEDS

“Pay taxes now or pay taxes later? Or do both? Learn how to strategize the taxation of your TSP as well as your other investments”

• Tax savings adds to your overall investment return

• Now vs. Later

• Non-Qualified accounts

• Tax Diversification

Financial Literacy & Pre-Retirement Topics

•CSRS & CSRS Offset –computing your pension.

• Eligibility for retirement

• COLAs • Maximum CSRS pensions

• Early retirement –VERA & VSIP

• CSRS Offset interaction with Social Security

• Disability Benefits

• Hi-3

• Creditable Service

• Deposits and Re-deposits –understand the calculations

• Military service and how it affects your pension

• Survivor benefits –In-service & post-service death

• Voluntary Contributions program

• Sick leave & Annual leave

• Choosing a retirement date

• Taxation of your Federal Pension

• Important forms and resources

• FERS & TransFERS–computing your pension.

• Eligibility for retirement


• Early retirement –MRA+10


• Disability Benefits

• Hi-3

• Creditable Service

• Deposits and Re-deposits –understand the calculations

• Military service and how it affects your pension

• Survivor benefits –In-service & post-service death

• Sick leave & Annual leave

• Choosing a retirement date

• Taxation of your Federal Pension • Important forms and resources

•Health benefits before and after retirement

• Eligibility and enrollment rules

• Pre-Tax payment of premiums

• FEHB for survivors before and after retirement.

• Relationship to Medicare

• How does Social Security interact with your Federal pension?

• Eligibility for benefits: How do you qualify?

• Computation of benefits

• Disability provisions

• Benefits for family members • Survivor benefits

• Taking Social Security “early”

• Taking your spouse’s benefit

• “Windfall Elimination Provision” (WEP)

• “Government Pension Offset” (GPO)

• Is Life Insurance necessary for everybody?

• Determine what amount and type of Life Insurance policy is best for you

• Life insurance before and after retirement

• Investing in Life insurance?

• General coverage rules

• Basic life insurance and available options

• Eligibility and cost

• Parts A, B and Part D of Medicare: the basics

• When to enroll?

• Late Penalties

• Do you need Medicare if you already have FEHB?

• Primary vs. Secondary Coverage

• What is Long Term Care (LTC)?

• Eligibility and enrollment

• Medicare/Medicaid and LTC

• How much you’ll need to self-insure

• Benefit choices and types of care covered

• Factors that influence the cost of LTC insurance

• Cost of living adjustments

• Health Care FSA & Dependent Care FSA & Limited Expense (LEX) FSA

• Eligibility and enrollment rules

• Allowable expenses

• Tax treatment

• FSA vs. HSA

• Understanding negative rates of return

• “A penny saved is a penny earned!”

• Raising the standard of living

• Managing your money and staying out of debt

• Mortgages, Refinancing, Reverse Mortgages

• Credit and Credit Cards

• Other forms of debt

• Strategies for saving on your taxes today

• Understanding “Income” and Income Tax

• Investments and taxes

• Cost Basis, Capital Gains and Stepped-Up Basis

• Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA

• Taxation of TSP -Roth vs. Traditional

• Non-qualified accounts

• Taxation of your Federal Pension

• General rules and procedures

• Agency Contributions & Matching

• Catch-up contributions

• Inter-fund transfers within the TSP

• TSP Loans and In-service withdrawals

• Post-Service Withdrawal Options

• Required Minimum Distributions

• Beneficiaries

• Investment Options –The C, F, G, I, S and L funds

• Bonds vs. Bond Funds

• Bonds vs. Stocks

• The 3 components of Growth

• Investment policy statement

• Understanding Rates of Return

• Identifying Risks

• Understanding time horizons

• Timing the Market -Seriously!

• Growth vs. income portfolios

• Defining your investment “Need”

• Diversification & Correlation

• Standard Deviation, Modern Portfolio Theory & Efficient Frontiers

• Investments and taxes

• Sequence of Returns

• How to avoid running out of your TSP

• Protection strategies and Insurance

• TSP Annuity

• Personal Game Plan:

• Define your retirement “Want”

• Personal Wellbeing

• Daily Structure

• Financial Game Plan:

• Define your expenses

• Regular Expenses

• Irregular Expenses

• Define your income sources

• Define your investment need

• What is estate planning?

• Probate and how to avoid it

• Ownership & Titling of property

• The functions of Wills

• The functions of Trusts

• Estate and inheritance taxes • Gifting & Charity

• Planning for incapacity

• Guardianship and conservancy

• The Various Powers of Attorney (POA)

• Living Wills & Advance Medical Directive

• Medicaid Planning

Leadership & Management Topics

Using one of the world’s most widely used leadership model and assessment, the Leadership Challenge® Workshop is designed to help aspiring and accomplished leaders alike achieve their personal best and improve their effectiveness in a leadership role. The workshop is based on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders described in the bestseller “The Leadership Challenge” by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Through a series of exercises, the workshop enables leaders to identify their strengths and development needs, clearly communicate values, inspire others to achieve a shared vision, search out opportunities to innovate, build collaboration and teamwork, and recognize the accomplishments of others. Participant materials are purchased through The Leadership Challenge organization

This workshops is designed to help people build more effective leadership and working relationships based on an understanding of different behavioral styles. The FIRO-B workshop is based on the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) theory of personality and leadership style and its research-validated model. Similarities and overlap with the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) typology are discussed and participants are encouraged to become familiar and comfortable with use of the instrument and its perspective. Duration: Half-day (FM)

The Everything DiSC® Workshops are designed to help people build more effective working relationships based on an understanding of different behavioral styles. The DiSC workshops are based on the Everything DiSC personality assessment, a researchvalidated model. Using the assessment, the workshops: Provides a common language to help teams understand one another and work better together Acts as a springboard for conversation and team building Improve employee and workplace communication Reduces conflict and avoids misunderstandings.

We offer the following DiSC® workshops:

Everything DiSC Workplace®

Can be used with everyone in an organization, regardless of title or role, to build more effective relationships, and improve the quality of the workplace.

Everything DiSC® Management

Teaches managers how to bring out the best in each employee. They learn how to read employee styles and adapt their own styles to manage more effectively.

Everything DiSC 363® for Leaders

Combines the best of 360s with the simplicity and power of DiSC®, plus three personalized strategies for improving leadership effectiveness. For anyone who wants to use 360° feedback as part of their leadership development, whether an emerging leader or an experienced executive.

Everything DiSC Work of Leaders®

The Work of Leaders made simple: Vision, Alignment, and Execution. Based on best practices, Work of Leaders connects to real-world demands, generating powerful conversations that provide a clear path for action.

Each person has their source of power. There are certain practices that draw this power to the surface, and into everyday practical life. This course will cover the fundamentals of these critical practices and will allow you to experience your own personal power, as well as invite and synergize with the power of others:

Topics Include:

1. Take charge and be proactive, not reactive:

2. Plan your moves by starting with the goal

3. Prioritize the important things ahead of the trivial ones

4. Find solutions that benefit everyone

5. Listen before you tell

6. Create synergy with others

7. Constantly make yourself better:

Duration: Half-day (RM)

Strategic thinkers are able to see “the bigger picture” and not get caught up in the tactical or operational mindset. This course is designed for people who want to be able to move beyond dayto-day, reactionary thinking to a more long-term and future-focused perspective.

Topics include:

Definitions of operational, tactical, and strategic thinking Obstacles to strategic thinking Methods for gaining a strategic perspective Identifying the strategic elements of an organization Strategic leverage points Decision making from a strategic perspective    Strategic forecasting Duration: Half-day (FM)

The goal of this half day workshop is to enable participants to prioritize work, complete critical work and manage email in order to increase productivity and daily efficiency. This workshop is based on the best seller, “Master Your Workday Now!” by productivity expert Michael Linenberger. The course offers a revolutionary yet simple system that automatically eliminates the feeling of being overwhelmed with daily tasks, boosts focus and concentration, and increases personal productivity. The course features a paper based system which can be easily adapted for use with Outlook or other business software applications. 

Duration: Half-day (MAK)

The goal of this half-day workshop is to provide participants with an understanding of competencies necessary for success as a new supervisor. The emphasis is on the new behaviors individuals need to demonstrate for a successful transition from peer to supervisor. This course will include the video, “Would I Follow Me?” which contrasts ineffective and effective supervisory behaviors. Participants learn six effective leadership behaviors and the impact those behaviors have in getting the new supervisor off to a successful start. The course will also include group exercises and discussions which will enable the participants to apply concepts to situations they encounter as a new supervisor.

Duration: Half-day (MAK)

Many highly capable scientists and technical professionals enter leadership and managerial roles unprepared for their new positions and possibly unmotivated to undertake the roles. This seminar clarifies why such professionals could make great leaders of other similar specialists or conversely be horrible ones, and what can be done through training, mentorship and screening. Issues such as micromanaging, the role of empathy, and the question of whether to ally with a non-technical coleader are discussed.

Duration: Half-day (FM)

Telecommuting continues to grow in popularity as an alternative to commuting to work and as a way to design and maintain virtual teams. Despite its clear benefits, telecommuting is not without problems and may not be for everybody. This seminar describes the potential advantages for the employee and the organization, the pitfalls to be addressed, the individual situations and personalities for whom telecommuting can be especially problematic and constructing and evaluating telecommuting program.

Duration: Half-day (FM)

Much of the role of a manager and leader is to guide, direct, and advise subordinates, including guiding them in their role as supervisors. This seminar differentiates between the roles of coaching, mentoring, and advising. It provides an overview of the specific roles the leader may take in coaching subordinates, including socialization, goal setting, fostering openness to change, role modeling, and sponsorship. The role of advising and listening is described, including the nine pitfalls of giving advice.

Duration: Half-day (FM)

Employee loyalty and commitment is an elusive and still important quality and employee retention has many benefits. This seminar explains why people identify with work and other organizations, how an organization can capitalize on the identification of employees, alumni, and (in the case of non-profits) members and volunteers. It also examines what managerial behavior can increase and decrease retention.

Duration: Half-day (FM)

Many professionals find themselves overwhelmed by the numerous and sometimes conflicting demands of career, marriage and other family connections, health maintenance, communal responsibilities and other undertakings. This interactive seminar describes the elusive concept of work-life balance and provides a step-by-step approach to working toward that goal.

Duration: Half-day (FM)

Boredom is associated with numerous psychological, physical, and communal problems, yet it is often seen as trivial. This seminar discusses the range of feelings and perceptions called boredom, the causes and consequences of boredom, and differences between transient and chronic boredom. It differentiates between “traditional boredom” and “new boredom”. Traditional boredom derives from personal proneness to boredom and/or limitations of certain jobs such as routine and repetitive work. By contrast, the new boredom stems from societal problems such as inability to concentrate and the need for constant stimulation that then seep into the workplace, making even interesting work potentially boring. Potential solutions to traditional and new boredom are presented.

Duration: Half-day (FM)

This half day workshop provides team leaders with a practical model to build and sustain high performance teams. Through the use of a hands-on, interactive exercise, team leaders and team members will be introduced to a model of team development and experience the phases of team development in the process of accomplishing a task as a team. Participants will discuss the three types of teams and their functions, the actions to take to create a high performance team, and how to diagnose issues impacting team performance.

Duration: Half-day (MAK)

This half day workshop provides a practical approach to conducting coaching conversations. Through the use of a structured coaching process, participants learn to develop the competence of those they lead or, when necessary, use the coaching process to address performance or behavioral issues. Participants demonstrate the coaching process in customized skill practices developed for each client organization that reflect common issues facing supervisors. The process is designed to help supervisors focus on identifying specific areas for performance improvement and through dialogue with the employee, develop an action plan to address performance needs and monitor progress.

Duration: Half-day (MAK)

The objective of this two day workshop is to enable participants to efficiently prepare and effectively deliver presentations that meet the presenter’s objectives for the audience. Three videotaped presentations are made by each participant during the two days. After each presentation, participants will receive feedback and they will also be able to view their presentations on their individual DVD. Workshop size is limited to no more than 10 participants to provide for individual coaching and feedback.

Duration: 2-day (MAK)

This half day workshop provides participants with an understanding of the Performance Management process, the performance conversations that are held at different stages in the process and how to hold productive conversations that result in improved performance and learning. Participants will review the purpose and outcomes for each type of performance conversation and the conditions and behaviors that can result in a productive conversation about performance. Participants will practice three types of performance conversations: Performance Planning (setting objectives and expectations), the Mid Year Check In Conversation and the Annual Appraisal meeting.

Duration: Half-day (MAK)

This half day workshop will provide participants with an understanding of the various strategies for resolving conflict, how to use the strategies to effectively resolve conflict and how to plan for and conduct a conflict resolution meeting. The half-day workshop includes the use of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Strategies Inventory, a conflict strategy selfassessment, explanation of the five conflict strategies, application of strategies to case studies drawn from the organization, and skill practices in which participants apply strategies to resolve workplace conflicts.

Duration: Half-day (MAK)

Stephen Zelcer's Financial Literacy training for Federal Agencies


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Financial Education for Federal Employees

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