Putting Money in the Context of Life

Life seems to be coming at us faster and faster.

At times, the demands on decision making are overwhelming. One way financial planners stop the merry-go-round is to attend continuing education conferences where they can learn new tools or hone old tools to be more effective. Three of the planners at The Planning Center recently attended the annual conference of the Financial Transitionist® Institute (a division of the Sudden Money® Institute).

Along with Matt Sivertson, TPC Moline and Cicily Maton, TPC Chicago, I was sitting inside listening to Dr. Moira Somers, Courtney Pullen, Susan Bradley and some of our expert peers while the sun was shining in balmy Florida. The subject matter was both enlightening and exciting.

Dr. Moira Somers, Ph.D., C. Psych., is a Neuropsychologist who presented an overview of cognitive biases (heuristics) that might interfere with a planner’s own decision-making during a personal transition. The good news is that she also provided us with insights and tools to counteract potential mistakes. And the good news for you (our clients) is that we bring that knowledge and tools to you when you are experiencing one of life’s big events and the sometimes not so big events, but when piled on top of each other can become magnified.

Two of our fellow Financial Transitionists® presented new exercises, one for clients preparing for retirement and another to begin discussions on Long Life Planning. Long Life Planning is not just for the old. At any age one can have health crises that require a major change in one’s life. Long Life Planning is a thoughtful analysis of choices and options. To learn more about these exercises, contact your planner at TPC.

Usually the things that we are concerned about also have a financial component to them. But the solution is not just about solving the financial issue. It most often is tied to an emotional feeling, reaction or past experience, and your planner is able to introduce a new way of thinking about it or offer options for you to consider.

The Planning Center has been at the forefront of what it means to serve their clients, always acting as fiduciary. In the beginning it was working as fee-only, then adding “Life Planning” and working with understanding and empathy. For each of us planners the recognition that “transition” planning was a special and unique experience was different. But we all acknowledged that a different set of skills, tools and knowledge was needed.

For me, this recognition occurred early in my career as a financial planner. We were working with clients in the throes of divorce. Due to the extreme emotional stress, clients needed something more than traditional financial planning. My partner and I had to develop new processes, tools and communication methods for them.

We realized early on that other life events such as the death of a spouse, retirement, even marriage, also affected decision-making. Many of the tools, processes, and communication methods we had used for divorce would  work for anyone going through a transition. Luckily for us, we were early members of the Sudden Money® Institute (now Financial Transitionist® Institute). Today all the financial planners of the Planning Center have had special training to assist clients through whatever transitions they are experiencing. Four of the planners have earned the Certified Financial Transitionist (CefT®) designation and three of those are at the Masters level.

Michelle Maton CFP®, is a Partner/Sr. Financial Planner in the Chicago office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.

Email her at: michelle@theplanningcenter.com.

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