It’s conference season here at Guiding Wealth and we just got back from the first of many: FPA Retreat. This amazing conference is designed to help make financial planners the best that they can be — both in their skillset and knowledge, as well as in their client relations. The FPA Retreat is the place we go to get better at the craft of financial planning. It's not about figuring out how to run a business, but the place where we always leave feeling challenged to serve our clients better.
It was a week of learning how to better serve clients for Hannah, and she took a lot away from the sessions she attended. Because a lot of what she learned (and taught) helps clients and others make financial decisions, we wanted to share a few of the highlights of FPA Retreat with you!
Passing Wealth Down
In my line of work, talking about a legacy is often synonymous with a financial legacy. How much are you passing on to the next generation? What is that number? And more importantly, is that enough?
But really, this session talked to financial planners about defining legacy. The idea of legacy was challenged and brought back to the idea that legacy is simply what someone will feel, think or say when they hear your name. In this way, legacy means far more than anything financial — and building a legacy starts now.
Of course, you cannot leave out the financial aspect of a legacy or inheritance. In this session, Timothy Belber dove into the different types of wealth transition or inheritance that can happen and the purpose behind them. He also encouraged financial planners to examine where clients want their inherited funds to go to once they pass away and the different intentions behind various gifts.
4 types of wealth transitions and inheritance
The most common intention is to simply have a safety net through life: life is unpredictable and having a safety net can allow heirs to navigate uncertainty much better than not having one. After the safety net is a meaningful and specific gift. This can be anything from making sure that your grandchildren have a college education to ensuring that heirs have a paid-off home. The next type of gift, Belber explained, is the opportunity fund. Some people want to give their heirs the opportunity to do what they want — be it the ability to start a business or quit their job to pursue their passion or be a full-time parent. The opportunities are truly endless. As Belber shared in this session, this gift can be looked at through the lens of “What do you wish you were given?”
Finally, the last type of gift is socially focused, sometimes called a social impact fund. This is looking at your legacy as part of the lasting impact your money can have on those in your community and the larger world. Through this process, Belber shared, communication is critical, especially if you desire your funds to be left for a specific purpose. Throughout it all, the goal should be to respect and honor both the giver and the people receiving the gift.
As you can see, there are different structures you can support in your inheritance or legacy, such as necessities or opportunities. The image also shows you how to “operationalize” your legacy, from implementing funds to telling your children to discussing sustainability of those funds with your financial planner.
Hannah really enjoyed this session (and the drawing) because it spoke to so many clients who want to leave a strong legacy and have their heirs in the best position position.
Before I Die
One of the first sessions Hannah attended at FPA Retreat was one called “Before I Die.” Candy Chang shared her personal story of death and loss and how she realized that one of the best ways to clarify your life is to think about death. Through her passion for public spaces, Candy began thinking of how to bring these two ideas together.
(Candy also hosted a TED Talk, and you can check out her beautiful story here.)
In an abandoned building in New Orleans, Candy created a “Before I Die” wall and — overnight! — it was filled with people sharing their thoughts, dreams, and humor about what they wanted to do before they died. Through this touching session, Candy challenged everyone to think more deeply about what they wanted to do before they die and how important thinking about death can be to our lives.
This session touched on everyone’s basic needs to connect, to be honest and vulnerable, and to share in experiences that remind us we’re not alone. It’s also a great “map” the illustrator created, don’t you think?
There is No Retirement Number
One of the most common questions Hannah gets from new clients is “What’s my number?” or “What is the amount of money I need to have saved in order to live comfortably for the rest of my life?” While any financial planner wishes they could give a solid number, the reality is there really is no set number for anyone. This may run counter to some of the gurus and television commercials out there, but the truth is: life is filled with uncertainty.
For some people, this is a calculation of how much they want to live off of, while others are focused on how early they can retire. For others, retirement may include government or defined benefit plans, and some may have to work well into their 70s to ensure their funds are in place. And even with the best laid plans, you can’t take into account your future health, future economic stability, or what taxes will look like in the future. Retirement is one of the most complex calculations in financial planning, which is why Hannah really enjoyed a session titled “There is No Retirement Number.”
The speaker talked about how there are so many variables to retirement — including age, income, health status, tax brackets, income tax when you finally retire, etc. There’s also a lot of uncertainty involved in retirement, which makes it very hard to determine what you really need to get by in retirement. It’s important, as a future retiree, to be aware that things can change and sometimes you’ll need to correct course to make sure your retirement funds are where they need to be. It’s also important for financial planners to manage expectations and emphasize the importance of a long-term plan, so that curveballs don’t have such a huge impact on a retiree’s life.
Conferences are always a great learning opportunity and FPA Retreat was no different. Hannah left feeling tired but feeling really inspired to serve her clients even better. She also took away a new interest in challenging assumptions: what are we missing in our financial plans? She’s also intrigued by the idea of legacy (in all its forms) and talking to clients about what they really want out of their life — because we all know it’s about more than just money.
Of course, if you’re interested in hearing more about what Hannah learned about legacy or retirement planning, you can always contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.