I recently received the kind of phone call that no one wants to either make or receive. One of my first five client families, from 20 years ago, is going through a crisis. It appears that one spouse will likely pass away soon, at an age where no one can say they lived a long life. My heart goes out to this family, and it truly angers me that they're having to endure this.
Outside of the initial shock of receiving this phone call, the healthy spouse asked me what else they needed to think about and prepare. Outside of a few minor tweaks, I was pleased to say that everything we planned for them was in place. Despite the hell they're facing, I thank God that at least they had taken the time to do the majority of the things we initially recommended 15 or 20 years ago - wills, life insurance, not carrying significant debt, they'd made smart lifestyle decisions and raised their children to be independent adults. While what they're facing is awful, it could certainly have been much worse if they hadn't taken a few hours way back when to do some planning with us.
I've often heard it said that if you're in this industry long enough, you experience this kind of situation on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I do receive these types of phone calls more often than I'd like. And I can also tell you this: I never get used to it. These are people I consider both friends and family. We've laughed together, played golf together and dined together, and to see them facing this tragedy breaks my heart.
I put all of this into words not to scare you, but because I was reminded by the healthy spouse that it might be a good idea to share their story as a reminder to all of you that the things we put on your planning lists may not seem important today, but can become very important in the blink of an eye.
Speaking with our team here at Family Financial Partners about our 2018 goals as a company, one is to truly challenge you to complete some of those more difficult things on your planning checklist this year. We want to make sure you're okay, should tragedy strike. Let's plan for the worst, hope for the best, and pray like our lives depend on it.
It doesn't matter whether you watch the Super Bowl, the State of the Union, scroll through Facebook, or simply pick up your local newspaper - not only is there plenty of terrible factual news out there, there's also a lot of fake, manufactured news. Now, I'd like to get some advice on how to decipher which is which, as I've come to realize that I can't actually tell. "The news" these days seems to read more and more like a John Grisham novel, no matter the topic. Not that it's a bad read mind you, and 99 times out of 100 I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience. It's not necessarily a bad perspective.
My point here is that, at Family Financial Partners, we truly appreciate the varying opinions and world views of all of you, our client families. Yes, as financial planners and your investment team, we do have strong opinions about how you should do things and make financial decisions. We're operating with the knowledge of what we've seen work over the last 20 years with our client families - in good times and hard times. We also understand that some people don't believe the past is a guide to the future, and would rather make decisions in a different way. But we are trying to be more sensitive to how different clients make decisions - that's another one of our company goals for 2018.
If you're wondering why, well, every year, about 1 percent of our clients leave us. You might be thinking, that's great Dave, 99 percent of your clients stay with you each year! But we're a competitive team, and we believe there's no reason we can't achieve 100 percent retention. We're trying to learn from our past and better our services for you and yours, as we do want 100 percent of you to reach the goals you've set for yourselves.
If you can think of an experience you've had with us and have a suggestion on how we could better that experience in a constructive (and realistic!) way - we can't offer airline miles, or pop out of everyone's cake on their birthday, or let you bring your pets to the office (I'm allergic!) - please, give us a call. Take some time to talk to one of our team members so we can take your feedback into account as we continue to refine our processes.
We know at the end of the day that no business can be everything to everyone. If there are tweaks we can make to improve your experience, we will take those into consideration and try to fit them into our day-to-day operations.
Now, get busy on that checklist.