At the end of the day, what matters most?

November 4, 2011

Image Copyright (c) 2011 J. L. FleckensteinBenjamin Franklin said, “The use of money is all the advantage there is in having it.” Indeed, money is as valuable to you as it assists you in creating your ideal life. Money is not the end goal, it is merely something that helps you reach your real goals.

Over the years, I have discovered that to provide the best service, I have to find out from my clients a piece of information only they possess: what matters most to him or her. My job is to comfortably draw out of my clients what their goals are, and integrate those goals with my own expertise to help them get results.

The simplicity of it is, people have life goals they hope to have the financial resources to achieve. If all I do is ask you about your financial goals, the conversation falls into terminology you might not easily relate to. This would be similar to a travel agent asking you how many times you want to travel instead of asking you where you want to go.

I am committed to taking into account important life circumstances when giving financial advice. I personally believe this is the most relevant, helpful approach and is most valued by my clients. I think of the work I do, the advice I give, as holistic wealthcare.

To accomplish this, I find it is more helpful to ask good questions than it is to find answers to typical, rote financial questions. If I ask you the right questions, it will help you discover your own answers, solutions, and resources. In other words, asking the right questions leads to some great brainstorming and real “a-ha!” moments.

A perfect example of this is a home-bound elderly client of mine. She was at risk of running out of money if she continued gifting too much of it to her adult son. I asked her the right questions that led to a realistic assessment of her resources, needs, and preferences for care, comfort, and peace-of-mind.

Then I asked what she wished most to do for her son. She said she always wanted to help him. So, I asked what she felt would help him the most. She paused to consider, then realized what he really needed was a budget.

Moving from discovery to taking the right actions all I had to do was ask her what it would take to make that happen. She had the answers, I just had to help guide her through the right questions to get there.

Would you like to have a CPA and financial planner who really cares about your goals, listens attentively and knows how to ask the right, thought-provoking questions? Would you like some help in getting to the bottom of what matters most to you? Do you want to work with someone who has a broad range of financial and business expertise to help you best utilize your financial resources and achieve your goals?

If so, call us today at (707) 524-8130 or (415) 353-5680.



You might think this would never happen to you …

August 5, 2011

I have a client in his mid-sixties suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In the beginning it was just the little things that began to fade. He used to complain about feeling slow, but discounted that feeling because he believed it just came with aging.

My client has run his own business for over thirty years and his business has been his family’s main source of income, accounting for about 80% of their total annual income. As his financial advisor, I recommended putting together a succession plan for his business should he become unable to run it himself. Thinking this scenario would and could never happen to him, he did not heed my advice, therefore no plan was in place should he be unable to fulfill the duties of running his business.

Now, his fading memory is becoming more and more obtrusive to the cohesion of running his business, and it is too late to create the best possible succession plan, which would of course provided the greatest retention of resources for his family’s survival and his care.
Lacking a succession plan, he had not identified a person to take over his business nor did he specify who he wanted to sell his business to should he be unable to run it any longer.

Suddenly he finds himself incapable of running his business and has no one to take it over for him. His spouse, with no knowledge of the inner-workings of her husband’s business, shoulders the responsibility of taking over the business that provides their family with the majority of their income.

As a financial advisor and CPA, I see far too many business clients in similar situations. The scary truth is that Alzheimer’s disease will end up affecting 50% percent of the population at some point or another – a staggering statistic. In the interest of protecting yourself and your family’s future, you would be wise to accept the possibility that this could happen to you. My advice is that you empower yourself by confronting that possibility, then take the next step in planning for such a future.

Treat your business like a business; have a succession plan in place, update it periodically and start training someone who would be capable of taking over your business should you no longer be able to run it yourself.

Remember, no one thinks this could happen to them, but it does, and I’ve seen it far too often. Plan now so you can live the way you want through retirement.

JRA