Tag Archive for: financial planning

Estate planning for unmarried and same-sex couples

Estate planning for unmarried and same-sex couples is mighty complicated, as I explain in “Unwed and Planning,” in the October issue of Financial Planning magazine. 

Here’s a table that got squeezed out of the story due to lack of space.

This data is frequently updated on the Human Rights Campaign’s Relationship Recognition Map.

Some resources I consulted in researching my story 

Related story in The New York Times 
A same-sex couple may spend significantly more for the same services than an opposite-sex married couple. In fact, costs could run as much $467,562 over their lifetimes for a hypothetical couple analyzed by Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber in “The Costs of Being a Gay Couple Run Higher,” in The New York Times (Oct. 3). 

Bostonians can learn more on October 22
Estate Planning & Family Litigation Avoidance Strategies for Gay & Lesbian Individuals and Couples” is the topic of a breakfast meeting to be held by the Boston Estate Planning Council on October 22.

A financial advisor’s "Cure for Money Madness"

People are too obsessed with money and need to get over their irrational beliefs about it, so they can focus on living their lives. That seemed to be the main point of Spencer Sherman’s March 19 talk to the Wharton Club of Boston. Sherman is the author of The Cure for Money Madness.

Sometimes it takes a life-threatening experience to make your aware of your money madness. Take the case of Sherman’s friend Billy, who went swimming by himself off a Hawaiian beach. He panicked when he got caught in a riptide. Instead of swimming parallel to the shore, as experts recommend, he headed straight for the beach. Billy thought his life was over. His last thought before he was rescued? “At least I don’t have to worry about my finances any more.” Finally, Billy put his money into perspective.

Your irrational feelings about money, which are rooted in your childhood, spur you to make mistakes, said Sherman. For example, you may feel that your self-worth depends on your net worth. So you may “buy high and sell low” instead of the more desirable “buy low, sell high.” 

Sherman mentioned some techniques for developing a more rational approach. For starters, think about how you’d advise a friend who’s in your situation because it’s easier to be rational about someone else’s money. Would you advise her or him to buy this stock, build this addition to the house, or take this job? Sherman’s book has a section devoted to exercises and he offers presentations and free conference calls on money madness

One of Sherman’s suggestions surprised me. He’d like us to ask ourselves “How can we make our current financial situation the goal?” I’m so accustomed to financial advisors focused on growing their clients’ wealth instead of finding satisfaction now. Ironically, he said, when we stop striving for more, we see the possibilities in what we’ve got. The idea of making the most of what we’ve got seems very appropriate today. 

I liked Sherman’s exercise for adjusting to less wealth.
1. Together with your spouse or significant other, write down your spending intentions for 2009.
2. Figure out how to create a great life within the limitations of those spending intentions.
3. Cut your 2009 spending intentions by 25% or even 50%. Get creative about working within those limits. For example, instead of eating out, you could organize potluck dinners and spend more time with family and friends.

If you’re intrigued by Sherman’s approach, check out his website or one of his YouTube videos.

What you’re missing if you don’t blog

Financial planners who don’t blog are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with prospective clients, according to “Social media in financial planning — the sweet spot and the sweet gap.” Why? Because many of your most desirable prospects read blogs.

On the other hand, if you do blog, you’re in a minority. Apparently fewer than 1% of financial planners blog, according to research from Kahuna Content.

Thanks to Bill Winterberg for bringing this information to my attention.

Financial planning firm benefits from Twitter

Are you struggling to figure out how Twitter micro-blogging can help you as a financial advisor?

In “Yes, Twitter Can Help Financial Planners,” Bill Winterberg blogs about how using Twitter helped his firm do a better job of ensuring their tax loss harvesting is executed without errors.

Twitter brought him a solution to a pesky challenge in an Excel spreadsheet. It was a problem he’d unsuccessfully tried to resolve by Googling. Then he sent out an appeal for help via Twitter–and got his solution within a day.

Related posts:

Build your team–and your client base–with book clubs

You can train your staff using a book club, suggests Kirk Hulett of Securities America Inc. in “Move Over Oprah,” published in Practice Management Solutions (Nov./Dec. 2008).

Hulett got me thinking. How about running a financial book club for your clients or prospects? It could deepen your relationship with them as you learn more about what makes them tick.

"Is Outsourcing Portfolio Construction the Wave of the Future?"

Glenda Kemple knows precisely why she outsources portfolio construction. “You add value because you understand your client’s total financial picture,” says Kemple, CPA, CFP®, of Kemple Capital in Dallas, Texas. That picture includes cash management, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, education planning, and risk management, in addition to investment management. “We want clients focused on all of those dynamics, not just the portfolio.”

Those who outsource portfolio construction as Kemple does passionately agree. They believe it saves them time and empowers them to better serve their clients’ overall financial planning needs, while tapping high-quality investment resources at a reasonable cost. They also believe that outsourcing makes them more competitive, helping them snare bigger, more sophisticated clients—and to win a bigger percentage of their assets.

Non-outsourcers are equally passionate about keeping portfolio construction in-house, arguing that they save their clients fees and provide better performance, and have a better handle on their clients’ portfolios, as well as getting great personal satisfaction out of the portfolio construction process.

Continue reading my article in the Journal of Financial Planning (FPA membership required).

Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Make your clients smile, while you stay safe from lawyers

Making a client smile can bring your meeting one step closer to a successful result. 

So, consider licensing a cartoon about the economy or stock market. It’s easy to find them by searching CartoonBank.com, a collection from the New Yorker

Could you use the cartoon described by the following caption?

I got out of tulips after the market collapsed, but I’m slowly getting back in. Especially pink ones.” 

Or, how about this one?

“Actually, ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ has served me quite well in this market.”

When you license cartoons for use in presentations, you keep yourself safe from charges of copyright infringement. Lawyers can’t come after you. That’s an added benefit. 

Have you used cartoons successfully in your presentations?

Annuities keep gaining respectability as a retirement solution

Your 401(k) plan would be annuitized for two years upon retirement, if the authors of “Increasing Annuitization of 401(k) Plans with Automatic Trial Income” have their way.

“Workers could opt-out at retirement or after those 24 months. But the authors expect that few would,” said the Tax Policy Center’s Howard Gleckman in “A New Annuity for 401(k)s.” He concluded “the new scheme is a big improvement over what we have now” because it would provide a steady income stream similar to that from defined benefit plans.

Of course, noted Gleckman, post-retirement annuitization doesn’t fix the problem that “all of the pre-retirement risk would be on workers, rather than their employers.”

I’ve noted in “Annuities gathering steam in professional journals that annuities seem to be gaining respectability as a retirement solution. 

Feeling emotionally connected to your client can cut both ways

Feeling a connection with your clients can be a double-edged sword. It can fuel your personal satisfaction. It can also lead to burnout.

This is according to”Financial Feeling: An Investigation of Emotion and Communication in the Workplace,”an academic study by Katherine I. Miller and Joy Koesten, which appeared in the Journal of Applied Communication Research. The article was based on a survey answered by almost 300 financial planners.

However, the study also found that “the most effective and satisfying relationships for financial planners came when they truly cared about the client and saw themselves in a relationship with the client. These connections–when genuine–did not cause burnout.”

Here are the authors’ tips to help you avoid burnout:

  • Understand that financial planning involves relationships as much as it involves numbers.
  • Try to understand the relational needs of your clients through active listening and taking the perspective of the other.
  • Develop a stance of empathic concern in your client relationships where you feel for the client but do not feel with the client.
  • Realize that relationships exist at different levels, and it is sometimes okay to “paste on a smile” if it helps to accomplish the goals of you and your client. At the same time, it is important to remain true to core convictions about your profession and your relationship with clients.
  • Work to understand norms of interaction in different organizational and national cultures, and interact in ways appropriate for those cultures.
  • Rely on others for social support when dealing with stress. Coworkers who understand your job are particularly good at giving advice or just providing a listening ear.