When most people think of their financial adviser, they think of the person who safeguards their investments. While we do that at Lawrence Financial Planning, we’re often in a position to do much more for our clients.
The way we see things, the work doesn’t stop just because we’ve helped our clients tackle the problems that brought them to our door. We’re always looking for ways to add value to our clients’ lives.
And sometimes, the best thing we can do is be there during those important life events when they need us the most. Here are 7 examples of those significant life events that we help our clients with.
Life Event #1: Marriage
Getting married is one of the most significant life changes you can imagine. After all, you’re not just sharing a life together. You’re sharing virtually everything you have, and possibly everything you ever will have! There are a lot of awkward financial conversations that might need to occur before marriage.
From our perspective, those awkward conversations will eventually occur—our job is to help our clients understand the need to have them before they enter the legal contract that they often forget about when they get married.
And it’s not just young, star-crossed lovers who we help. It’s often people entering a second or third marriage, where our role is to help them take care of themselves with fairness to all the people who are important to them.
Life Event #2: Divorce
Of course, marriage doesn’t always work out. So, we’re there for our clients when they have to navigate divorce. In fact, Julie and Forrest both have specialized training as Certified Divorce Financial Analysts®, which means we are certified and can help clients better understand the financial impacts of a divorce.
Some clients need help with the divorce process, either with:
Knowing how to properly divide assets
Making major financial decisions, such as selling a house
Uncovering assets they might not even know about
Others need our assistance in figuring out what life would look like after their divorce is finalized. Whatever the case may be, we are there to help our clients before, during, and after their divorce.
Life Event #3: Career Transition
Many of our clients experience some sort of career transition that requires our help. Hopefully, it’s a well-deserved, well-desired promotion. Sometimes, it’s a change in employment. Sometimes, it’s a layoff. Whatever the challenge, we know there is an impact to their finances. This can include:
Helping them understand their employee benefits and compensation packages
Helping with their cash flow during a transition
Estimating the impact to their retirement plan projections
While they’re still able to work, any impact to a client’s employment situation is usually temporary. That is, of course, unless we’re talking about the final change to any person’s employment situation—retirement.
Life Event #4: Retirement
Retirement is a very simplistic way to approach conversations that have to do with being financially independent. While ‘retirement’ might be a goal for people, it’s almost never the final destination, especially when you can spend 30 or more years in ‘retirement.’ However, we help our clients determine when they can afford to be ‘financially independent,’ or when their work becomes optional to them.
Sometimes, it’s the proverbial question of, “I’ve got my stack of money (or retirement savings), how do I make it last while living how I want?” Many times, thought, our clients find themselves trying to figure out what to do with their time. Other clients think, “Is there something that I should have considered that I haven’t thought about?”
Retirement is a very important decision, and often a permanent one. Since we recognize this, we spend a lot of time helping our clients prepare, financially AND emotionally, to the concept of life after retirement.
Life Event #5: “Sudden Money”
While some clients might ‘reach their number’ after a lifetime of hard work and diligent savings, there are also cases when someone receives a large chunk of money at one time. We call this ‘sudden money,’ and it could come from any number of places, such as:
A divorce settlement
Life insurance proceeds
Employment termination agreement
Winning the lottery (hey, it does happen)
Whatever the case may be, this money usually is enough to make the client wonder: “What should I do to make sure I don’t screw this up?” And it’s usually a one-time occurrence, which means that there are no do-overs.
So, we help our clients understand some of the things that might not be apparent, such as:
Impact to their retirement plan projections
Any applicable tradeoffs or major decisions. For example, life insurance proceeds usually have multiple options, so we help our clients understand what they are, so they can choose what might be appropriate for them.
Life Event #6: Birth of a Child
Bringing a new child into the world is one of the happiest moments in our clients’ lives. Often, there is a significant financial consideration as well.
For new parents, there are concerns such as:
Child care costs
Impacts of raising a child on cash flow
While we help our new parent clients with these questions (and more), many of our questions come from our new grandparents. These include:
How can I help out financially without undermining my adult children?
How can I help fund my grandchild(ren)’s college planning?
How should I update my beneficiary designations?
And as we help our clients financially prepare to welcome new relatives into the world, our goal is to ensure they’re able to celebrate every moment.
Life Event #7: Death of a Loved One
We’re also there when our clients mourn the death of a loved one. In fact, it is one of the most important times for us to be there, for several reasons.
First, there is often a significant impact to the client’s financial picture. While an estate attorney will likely help an executor with assets that are probated as part of a client’s will, many financial accounts are transferred outside of probate, through beneficiary designations. Not only do we help our clients ensure their beneficiary designations are correct while they are alive, we help their loved ones walk through the steps to disburse the money where it needs to go after they are gone.
Additionally, the loved ones, particularly spouses, are often left with a plethora of decisions to make. Some decisions need to be made fairly quickly, others need to be postponed until some point in the future. But the grieving process often makes it very difficult to think clearly. We offer our counsel throughout the grieving process so that our clients can proceed at their own pace with the confidence they aren’t missing anything or rushing too quickly.
Finally, we often help our clients prepare for their loved one’s eventual passing. Unfortunately, this happens all too often, whether it’s due to cognitive decline, a terminal illness, or something else. Whatever the case may be, it is our duty to help our clients with the tough conversations they need to face so they can make the best decisions for themselves.
When most people think of financial planning, they think of gradually building wealth over a lifetime of hard work, diligent savings, and prudent investment. But it’s important to recognize that real financial planning often happens when you have to deal with the changes you face in life, whether they are expected or unexpected. Most financial advisors are willing and able to serve their clients during these changes, when their clients need them the most.
But some are not. If you’re not getting what you need from your financial advisor, or if you don’t have one, let us know. We’d be more than happy to see how we might be able to serve you.