We're Not Just Here For The Good Times

We're Not Just Here For The Good Times

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Perhaps one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a financial planner is sharing the good times with our clients – the job promotion, the birth of a child or grandchild, the successful sale of a business, the achievement of financial independence.  We are incredibly lucky to share the joys of the families we work with.

Sadly, life isn’t all puppies and rainbows.

An important part of our job is being there when things don’t go to plan.  When the unexpected, awful event occurs that knocks you for six.

I’ve been privileged to share so many good times with clients over the last 30 years, but it’s the bad times which have been seared into my memory.  In those years, here are just a few of the bad times I’ve shared with clients:

The widow who was dealing with her husband’s suicide

The widow whose husband died suddenly just as they were about to purchase their ‘forever’ home

The farmer whose life was turned upside down by the Foot & Mouth outbreak in Devon in 2001

The elderly woman whose husband divorced her after more than 40 years of marriage, after she walked in on him and his (male) lover.

The widow who lost her husband after 60 years of marriage – they had never spent a night apart in all those years.

The widow whose husband dropped dead of a heart attack a week after he retired.

Four of my past clients committed suicide.

We currently have three clients who are battling cancer.

I’ve lost count of the number of times clients have cried in front of me.

It’s hard to deal with these situations, but just as I feel privileged to share the good times, I feel the same about the bad times. When events like these occur, after their family and closest friends, we are the first people our clients contact.

A financial planner adds value in these situations by helping with practical matters such as probate, policy claims, updating and reviewing the financial plan to determine the impact of these events. But we also provide emotional support, when required.

A piece has been circulating on social media recently.  Reading it was like watching a slow-motion car crash.  How do people end up in this situation? It’s easy to play the blame game when you read something like this, but I’m sure this couple ended up in their current situation as a result of a series of incremental poor decisions due to the lack of a basic understanding of their finances rather than as a result of a deliberately reckless strategy.

The saddest part for me was their refusal to consult a financial planner because they were scared they would be advised to declare bankruptcy.

A good financial planner would be there to provide support in any way they could.

A good financial planner would not judge them for their past mistakes.

A good financial planner would work with them (i.e. would not suggest a course of action with which the couple fundamentally disagree) to devise a plan to get them out of debt and back on track.

A good financial planner would never have let them get into this situation in the first place.

How do you put a value on that?