I recently had to dig through the depth of my storage to find some old scrapbooks from my high school days. As often the case, when you start digging you realize there is a bunch of stuff that you are storing that you no longer need so we made several trips to Goodwill and had a few boxes to shred. As I went through the box of information I found several items that made me pause and reflect on life, including several items related to financial matters.
One of the files that caused me to reflect was my file entitled “business thoughts.” In this file I jotted down notes regarding random business ideas that I wanted to explore. The list included a compliance consulting company, used/specialty Toyota off-road vehicle dealership, real estate development, private investment fund manager, and financial planning firm (with many of the processes listed down that we use today), to name a few. There were a lot of ideas in that file that may not have worked out very well, although several would have been good. It got me thinking about why I chose to take the path towards financial planning and wealth management.
There were several reasons why I ended up pursuing financial planning for people (interest and opportunity to name a few major reasons), but one that was of particular importance to me was lifestyle. When I started practicing law, the partners (and associates, of which I was one) worked a ton of hours in a week. The partners would occasionally wake up at 2:00 in the morning, not be able to fall asleep so they would head into the office. I also witnessed partners coming home from family trips at 8:00 at night and coming into the office to work (I was there too) until 3:00 a.m., only to be back in the office by 7:00 am the next morning. In many instances, they would bring their kids into the office to watch TV while they worked on Saturdays and Sundays. I have a great amount of respect for those attorneys and they were really good attorneys, but despite a high probability of making enough money to meet my financial goals, I knew that lifestyle wasn’t for me.
The problem (or blessing) was that both of my parents were very present in my life. Even my dad, who probably traveled 10-15 weeks out of the year, rarely missed a game or event because he took great effort to plan those business trips around my schedule. He also found a way to coach many of my youth sports. My mom stayed home with my sister and me during the early part of our lives. She probably didn’t miss a single event and was the rock in our household. There was no way I was going to live by their example as a partner in a busy law firm.
So, any of those business thoughts eventually had to produce the right amount of work life balance. There were lots of nights and weekends studying for the CFP Board exam, or taking roughly six other industry exams. However, by following my lifestyle goal and other goals driving my decisions, I have had the opportunity to coach my kids in many different sports and now have the flexibility to attend tennis, golf or softball events during the week if that is what the schedule requires. I often work at night or on weekends when time allows for our family, but I have the opportunity to prioritize different schedule items throughout the week. I’m grateful I had a plan and a goal in mind in how I wanted to balance vocation with vacation.
Many people think financial planning is all numbers or figuring out how our clients can save more and maximize wealth. The reality is we often help clients figure out how they can lead a life that fits with their unique goals and objectives. If being more present for family, giving to charity, traveling, the ability to work by choice, take a mid-life sabbatical or an infinite number of other goals are important to our clients, we work to look at their situation to figure out how to help them make that happen. The term we often use in our business for this type of planning is holistic planning. If you are interested in how this type of work is different than your current advisor or perhaps you don’t have an advisor at all, please let us know as we would love the opportunity to help you determine what you value most in life and how to live your life accordingly.