SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Most people don’t like change, but longtime South Salem resident Vern Hayden has always embraced it.

“If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less,” he said.

Hayden is considered a pioneer and leading authority in investing and retirement planning, having started and sold a couple of wealth management businesses in his day, most recently to a publicly traded community bank. There’s still fire in his belly and a quick gait to his step as he’s on to his latest adventure as president of the Center for Retirement and Investment Planning.

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First, he coaches clients of any age preferably by age 50 to prepare for the years after they stop working, whether that be age 50 or 90. Like squirrels storing nuts to not starve through the winter, his clients are coached on storing up resources to live a happy and healthy post-work life. Secondly, he’s helping bring the best things to lives after working years.

He’s also banging away on his third book, a work in progress entitled, “How Do I Know You Won’t Steal My Money?”

His first book, “Money, Use It or Lose It - The Common Sense Process of Financial Planning,” was published in 1980.

Hayden knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two, as the famous Farmers Insurance advertisement says. He’s always moved with the times and has been willing to jump into new adventures. Hayden’s wisdom has come over time and with many experiences with clients in all stages of relationships with their finances.

Born the son of a preacher man, he was headed down that path as well. His father having built the church in Peekskill. He spent three years at the Seminary, and got into the preaching business briefly, but moved on to Wheaton College and earned a degree in philosophy and theology.

Although his vocation changed decades ago, he’s still “preaching” in a way to people, about their money.

“There’s so much psychology that goes along with money,” Hayden said. “People have a strong mental pull towards it. It can create euphoria or depression sometimes. It’s important to keep people grounded and objective about their finances.”

This means excellence in positioning all assets to support the ideas and the lifestyle people have been thinking about, maybe for years.

“This is a person’s time to shine in their own self-actualization,” said Hayden, who has decades in the profession and has been a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) since 1978 and in 1994 and 1995 was chairman of the College for Financial Planning, which created the CFP designation. He’s also a founder of the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Hayden was a fixture on financial television for years with weekly appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg, and others.

“I would get calls from people who were frantic about their finances,” he said. “It really is an emotional topic when you get right down to it. People don’t want to know necessarily how or why they are invested in a certain way. They mostly want reassurance they will be alright and able to live.”

Prior to entering the financial field, he was a major in the United States Air Force and served seven years of active duty and three years of reserve duty.

“It definitely taught me discipline, which so many people are lacking in financial matters,” Hayden said.

From 1998 to 2001, he wrote weekly columns for TheStreet.com and had a large following. This led to the authoring of his second book, “Getting an Investing Game Plan: Creating It, Working It, Winning It,” published by John Wiley.

In 2015, he was invited to be the opening keynote speaker at the annual Chengdu, China Exhibition.

“It was incredibly eye-opening to just how much freedom we have here and how much we take for granted,” Hayden said.

One thing that hasn’t changed for Hayden is his passion for handball, which he plays three times a week and competes in tournaments.

He’s a member of the “Killer’s Handball Club” of the New York Athletic Club in New York City, and often reflects on his chapters in his life and helps clients to write their own financial futures and have stories to tell.