Our newsletter

Rogers Group Financial (RGF) publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Financialist, which is written by the advisors of our firm. The articles are aimed at providing meaningful information relevant to the specific needs of our clients, and each covers a variety of topics (including specific investment strategies and the details of individual investment products).  The latest issues of The Financialist are below; for a complete archive and access to printable .pdf articles, please click here

BY BRIAN MCGUIRE, BA CFP

Do you ever find that you can rationalize putting off important responsibilities because they may be painful or cause discomfort? I know that if it weren’t for my dentist calling me every six months, I wouldn’t be rushing out to book a check-up. It is fascinating how humans function in this regard. We know that something is good for us in the long term, but we put it off because of short-term discomfort. Often, the longer we put things off, the more stressful they become. The guilt and stress are, more often than not, far more painful than the task itself.

As advisors, we work to identify those areas that are often put off for another day. From start to finish, we work with clients to develop a financial plan to help them achieve their financial goals and account for any bumps along the way. One of the key things that appear in the majority of plans that we see is that people want to make sure that their family will be taken care of after they are gone. One of the areas that often gets neglected in this whole process is sharing those goals with your family.

Advisors are like pilots who are flying you in a plane that you own. We know how to fly a plane, but you are holding the map and the weather report to your final destination, and without all of the details, there is no way to be sure that we will ever get to where you want to go. When we work as a team, we can get you there safely and be prepared for any turbulence along the way. If you don’t fill in your family on your plans, that would be equivalent to us getting to your final destination without ever letting the airport know we were on our way.

Regardless of how good your plan is, if you don’t share it to those who were in mind when you made it, they can be left trying to put together the pieces when you are gone. That is where family meetings come into play. This is one of those activities that nobody wants to do, but in the end, you will all be better for it.

The goal of the family meeting is to ensure that your wishes are known, understood, and respected. The meeting allows you to properly document those wishes and ensure that everything organized in a legal and tax-effective manner. It also ensures that you are able to preserve and pass along the family farm or business while easing anxieties and maintaining family harmony.

■ To make sure that what needs to be covered is covered, there are some steps that you should take ahead of the meeting.
■ The first is to make an agenda and have someone lead the meeting to make sure that all of the items on the agenda are covered.
■ Be prepared to discuss your concerns and fears. As mentioned above, this is not always an easy process, but the more prepared you are ahead of time, the easier it will be.
■ Listen. It sounds simple, but when emotions are involved, sometimes it is tougher than it sounds.
■ Be open to options. The best option to you might be the worst to someone else. Some common topics to discuss in the meeting are:
■ What should happen when one parent dies?
■ What happens when both parents have died?
■ What should happen if one or both parents suffer incapacity?
■ Succession planning of the family farm or business
■ Who are your trusted advisors?
■ Address any problem areas that might have been uncovered in the planning work you have done with us.
 
After the meeting has finished, make sure that, if there are any action items that need to be resolved, there is some- one in charge of them. Keep the family in the loop as these items are accomplished – whether that is getting legal documentation completed or trusts set up. The purpose of the meeting was to create a safe place for communication so ensure that the communication continues after the meeting is finished.

Like any of the planning work that we do, what comes out of the family meeting will be a working document. It is something that can change and evolve overtime. The work that does get accomplished in the initial meeting often turns into the foundation of the family’s plans going forward. If you have more questions about how to broach the idea of the meeting to your family, speak with your advisor e will be happy to guide you.
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