Client Stories

Learning to Live with Uncertainty

Eng-WEBA good friend and client of mine used to live in Somalia. She recently shared a great story with me about a trip she took years ago with her baby daughter. It’s a fabulous lesson about learning to live with uncertainty.

They had boarded a flight in Somalia, and all the seats were already taken. Many more passengers were standing in the aisle. They were instructed to deplane and line up on the tarmac. Then, they were told the seats would be decided by a foot race.

Passengers had to run, and those who did not run fast enough were not allowed back on the plane. My client ran the race with her daughter on her back!

We all live with uncertainty. Every day, things happen that are beyond our control. This story illustrates one of the more extreme situations that most of us will never have to experience. In the United States, we have grown accustomed to getting a seat on the airplane if we book a flight. We generally have a car available to us if we reserve a rental. We enjoy a high degree of certainty that the meal we order at a restaurant will arrive the way we like it.

All this suits me. I’m a person who loves structure and routine. Learning to live with uncertainty isn’t something that comes naturally to me.

Yet, out of necessity, I have learned to embrace change and develop the ability to adapt. It’s inherent in the career I chose. Dealing with financial markets, as well as an ever-changing economic and political landscape, has forced me to learn to live with uncertainty.

Experience is a great teacher. The more experiences we have in life, the more comfortable we can become with uncertainty.

My friend has lived through many of the ups and downs of life and the financial markets. As a client of 20 years, she has adapted well, and it has been rewarding for her and her family. Just like when she adapted to that situation in Somalia and was awarded a seat on the airplane.


By |2021-04-15T11:49:07-07:00April 19th, 2021|Client Stories, Current Affairs, Financial Planning|

Make Your Legacy Tangible

make your legacy tangibleEstate planning is about much more than the tangible elements of life insurance and trusts, or investment accounts and wills. That’s because your money and possessions are not the only representations of your life. What about your beliefs and wisdom, your personal experiences and family stories? These are your legacy. They are the most valuable assets you can pass on to your loved ones and community. So, how do you make your legacy tangible?

“The challenge with character and intellectual assets is giving them the same kind of physicality that financial assets are given,” explains Laura Roser, author of Your Meaning Legacy. “Legacy vehicles are the physical structures that enable you to pass on your non-financial assets.”

One simple way to pass on your legacy is to write a heartfelt letter. You can also create short videos or audio recordings in which you share family traditions, memories and other stories. For those feeling especially ambitious, it has become easier than ever to create biographies, memoirs and other specialty books.

Regardless of how simple or elaborate you choose to be, you’ll want to include these items in your estate plan along with instructions for how they are to be shared and preserved. Remember, too, you don’t have to wait until your death to share them.

Sharing your life stories today can benefit you and your family in multiple ways. For example, a 2006 study from Emory University shows that children who know and understand their family’s history exhibit strong self-esteem and a belief that they can influence events and outcomes in their lives. Additional benefits, according to Roser, include decreasing depression in older adults, connecting with family, and increasing the likelihood of a successful wealth transfer.

Charitable giving can also include a legacy letter, video or other vehicle that shares personal wisdom and values. Your thoughts and insights will make the gift all the more meaningful to the recipient. A college student who benefits from your scholarship will also benefit from knowing why you gave. Nonprofit employees will appreciate knowing funds to continue their work came from someone with shared beliefs and values.

Just like the drafting of important financial papers, documenting your non-financial assets should be done before it becomes urgent or too late. Why not start right now?

Ideas to Help Make Your Legacy Tangible

  • Pick a photo from your past and write a description of what was happening, how you felt when it was taken.
  • Record a two-minute video about your wedding day, the day your child was born or a family tradition.
  • Create a “Top 10” list (of things for which you are grateful, of mistakes you’ve made and learned from, or of actions you believe create a well-lived life).
  • Write a letter to your family telling them you love them and what you consider to be their greatest gifts.
By |2019-08-14T13:59:48-07:00July 30th, 2018|Books, Client Stories, Estate Planning|

Managing Cash Flow from Multiple Incomes

McCann-WEBManaging cash flow from multiple incomes can be complicated, and individuals often don’t differentiate the incomes in their financial planning, either from a tax standpoint or in retirement planning. Because their cash flow is often inconsistent, many people believe they can’t consistently carry out any financial planning.

Case Study

For example, several of my physician clients, especially those who are members of specialty partnerships, receive two types of income. One is a traditional salary or hourly wage received for direct patient care and is addressed from an income-tax-standpoint with W2 withholdings. The second might be self-employment income or profit-sharing distributions based on the net profitability of the group; this may be distributed annually or throughout the year, and it is treated differently with regard to taxes.

The Strategy

Inconsistency of cash flow is actually a key factor that makes financial planning all the more necessary. Ongoing review and planning can help bring a level of financial stability that in turn helps bring peace of mind.

One challenge to managing multiple income sources is that some physicians may view their partnership distribution each year as a windfall and end up not saving or not planning with that money. Conversely, they may get discouraged in a given year if there are no profit-sharing distributions from the partnership, and they were counting on that income.

Finding a balance and managing the proper lifestyle to the variable income helps both in the short term and long term. Prioritizing goals is an important initial step in that direction. While most people’s goals may be similar (investing for retirement or college, buying a new home or vehicle, paying down debt, saving up for a dream vacation), each goal may have a different rank depending upon one’s age, income, dreams and priorities. Which goals will be funded first with the reliable income? Which will be funded last (or less), in the event the variable income does not meet expectations in a given year?

The Action Plan

The key to remember is that everyone’s situation, and therefore solution, will be a little bit different. Working with a professional to create a comprehensive personal plan can be the first step in managing multiple employment income sources. Periodic review, adjustments and fine-tuning of that plan and your investments will help foster peace of mind and maintain a path of ongoing financial stability.

Creating flexibility within your financial plan helps to ease the discomfort of inconsistencies in cash flow from year to year.

By |2019-08-14T13:59:57-07:00May 17th, 2016|Client Stories, Financial Planning|