Ode to Mike Lebel on his Upcoming Retirement

December 2022 – Mike Lebel, Co-founder of Lebel & Harriman Retirement Advisors, will retire at the end of 2022.

by laurie reed, relationship manager

I recently asked a dear friend and loyal business partner “When you think of Mike Lebel, what comes to mind?”.  She paused, smiled, and said, “Mike’s a class act – you know, that cool guy at school that you want to hang out with”.  And I thought “So true, and I have had the distinct honor and absolute pleasure of hanging out with Mike Lebel for the past 32 years…”

Mike and I first met in 1989.  I was just one year out of Colby College, had started a career in retirement plan services, and was working as a regional service manager for a retirement plan recordkeeper.  “Mike from Maine”, one of our key advisors, asked me to join him at a mutual client’s office in VT to hold some enrollment meetings.  We met for breakfast at the start of the day.

Headshot of Michael Lebel
Michael Lebel co-founded Lebel & Harriman Retirement Advisors in 1978 and will retire at the end of 2022.

I knew instantly that Mike was indeed a class act – a man of character, a man of vision, and a man with a passion for his work.  I accepted his offer of employment one year later.  And it remains one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Mike has taught our L&H team many important lessons over the years.  I’ll share three that have been influential with respect to the culture and community that is Lebel & Harriman:

Lesson 1. Mike’s mantra when it comes to business has always been ‘We want them all.’ This sentiment isn’t born out of greed, but rather Mike’s sincere love of getting to know people.  Mike measures ‘profitability’ and ‘success’ in the deep relationships that he has built with plan sponsors and plan participants over time.  Everyone has a story, and he wants to hear them all.

Lesson 2. ‘Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and get out of their way.’  This approach, this absolute trust and confidence, this ‘I’ve got your back’ assurance, has enabled us to attract and retain an incredible group of bright, hardworking, and talented professionals, many of whom you have gotten to know over the years.  They are very capable, and excited and eager to take the torch and continue all that Mike and Phil have built over the past 40+ years.

Lesson 3. Embrace the HR Community, as these professionals will prove to be the most loyal and passionate business partners you’ll ever find.  Whether recommending courageous plan design, building a strong foundation of plan governance protocols, bringing levity and laughter to the annual HR Conference, financially supporting causes that are important to our HR partners, helping their employees retire with dignity, or lending endless support to participants or their loved ones who need a listening ear and a caring heart, Mike has been an amazing role model and steward for our firm and our industry.

Cheers to Mike Lebel, and his well-earned retirement.  While he will be missed more than he knows, our team will all do our best to continue the extraordinary legacy that he leaves behind. 

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