Last week we had a review meeting with one of our long-standing clients. I have worked with the head of the family (let’s call him John) for over 20 years from his days as a salaried employee to his current position, a partner in a successful local business. Being able to walk this path alongside him has been a wonderful privilege. What made last week’s meeting special is that our client brought along with him his wife (Mary) and their 18-year-old daughter (Jill) who was down on varsity holidays.
As a rule, when we start working with clients, we encourage both members of the couple to be involved from the start so that we can build a relationship that is meaningful to each of them. Proper financial planning will only work if a couple build their plan together and take joint ownership of it. In the past, it was often the man in the relationship who dealt with “the money” while the wife raised the family. This has led to very sad outcomes for various reasons, so we have learned that including both husband and wife works best.
Around 5 years ago John & Mary started investments for their 2 daughters and made sure that the monthly debit orders came off the daughters’ accounts. Unbeknown to me at the time, this became known in the family as the “Dirk tax”, I was not the most popular figure in the 2 daughters’ lives!
When I was informed that Jill wanted to discuss her investment with me during the planned review, I was not sure what to expect, so when she informed me that they both wanted to double their debit orders, I was pleasantly surprised.
After a few years of working while at varsity, Jill & her sister had learned to budget and even put savings away, this while knowing that if they wanted to, they could spend their full allowance earnings. It may seem like nothing special but trust me, “budget” is the scariest word or discussion point in most households. Ironically, it is also the most important key in all financial planning.
Another thing that happened was that John & Jill discussed their family financial plan and vision with Jill present, including the numbers, which are very healthy. John then, as he leaned back comfortably, expressed that should anything happen to him, Client Care would deal with everything that needed to happen.
Proper financial planning is indeed a family affair, and the real reason is because it is about more than just the numbers.
Dirk Groeneveld, Certified Financial Planner
t. 083 261 9287