A recent death got me thinking. Not about my loved ones directly per se but about the gaps that may exist in my own finances. The death occurred suddenly—a client of one of my clients went from the high of his career to goodbye all too quickly.
I came to learn about the story through my client who, in addition to providing financial advising services, also provides healthcare and other benefits to firms. This advisor has several clients that have moved to Denver from his Midwestern hometown. One of his clients (the client of my client in this story) was a reputable eye surgeon. Young, confident, smart … in other words, a stud.
Unfortunately, this stud was quickly immobilized and died in a matter of weeks because of cancer that rapidly spread through his body. He was making bank and had the life to show it. However, upon his death, the holes in his financial condition became apparent. He lacked a will to provide for his two children. He had stopped paying his insurance premiums and, therefore, did not have life insurance. In addition, he had a significant amount of debt, so even his wealth creation was depleted by the excess debt he held. His dream was to give his kids a world-class education, but that dream, unfortunately, ended with his death.
After hearing this story, all I could think about was ensuring that my personal finances were in line … and making certain my clients have everything shored up as well. Ironically, I then stumbled upon a moving article in The New York Times that summed up exactly what I was thinking. The article, “A Shocking Death, a Financial Lesson and Help for Others” shared an eerily similar story. The story is about José Hernando, or specifically his wife, Chanel Reynolds, and the financial holes that were left upon José’s sudden death. While Chanel needed to grieve, all she could think about was their finances and the desire to “get her shit together.” The result? A powerful website, http://getyourshittogether.org that helps others do just that.
Get It Together
For those advisors that are trying to influence their clients to get it together, http://getyourshittogether.org may be the perfect starting point for you (and your clients). There’s no question that grief could consume you or your clients. But the realization that there may be gaping holes in your financial condition (and you can do something about it) is the lasting memory I want to leave with you.
Chanel’s experience and journey to fill her financial holes is memorialized at http://getyourshittogether.org. Not only does she tell her story, but also she provides checklists and summarizes the real-life thought process behind the financial pillars we all need. If you don’t have your own checklists, I would suggest modeling or using the checklist form from the site. The “getting started” checklist is basic. But if it helps get your clients started, it is more beneficial than complicated lists. Checklists are thoughtful, useful and empowering tools which allow you to know what you need to accomplish with a client.
On her website, Chanel also provides a little sanity through her section entitled “Thoughts,” ideas she wishes her husband would have expressed before his death. For those that like AUM in a Box’s homework assignments (see below) you will like Chanel’s “Do it Now” add ons, which are calls to action on the bottom of most pages to get something accomplished.
Chanel’s website is clean and straightforward and offers all the information that you and your clients need to get your financial holes filled. Use the site as inspiration to influence your clients to do the right thing. Unfortunately, there’s no telling what tomorrow brings … remove an easy burden from the mix and help your clients get their finances in order.
Read, “Get Your Shit Together!” and decide if you will refer clients to the site or if you can create your own site that will help clients get their financial houses in order.