The Future Is For Real: Succession Planning Reframed by Lewis J. Walker, CFP®; and Maria C. Forbes

The 2014 movie Heaven Is For Real gives one pause to ponder the future. After life, what’s next? Colton is the real-life son of Todd and Sonja Burpo.

The film chronicles a near-death experience when Colton was a young child. The family was incredulous over his miraculous recovery from an emergency appendectomy. More amazing was the story that emerged afterwards—an account of Colton’s trip to heaven and back, details involving long-deceased relatives and other facts that had never been revealed to the 4-year-old boy in his short lifetime.

There are believers, nonbelievers, and skeptics when it comes to concepts of God, heaven, and hell. Your view of such things will color your perception of the future and how you earn money and deploy resources.

C.S. Lewis in his masterwork, The Screwtape Letters, observes that human beings “live in time,” whereas God, angels, and spirits, do not. Our earthly sojourn is measured in years and most financial life planning decisions are based on assumed time frames. How much time is deposited in our personal time bank, we do not know. We all will have a last day. What impact will your last day have on your practice, your associates, family, clients?

Your future is for real. Do you have a plan for living well, with passion and purpose? Living well is not just about money or financial security, although as psychologist Abraham Maslow observed, you must feel secure before you can move to higher levels of self-actualization.

Early in your career, your main focus is on establishing a practice, paying expenses, and taking home enough to sustain self and family. Philosophical musings and thoughts of a higher order come with time, experience, and financial success.
Our profession also evolved. We moved from commission-based survival to fee structures and client-centric planning. In the beginning, “financial planning” itself was a specialty; now there are niches and specializations within the financial planning umbrella. Thinkers like George Kinder and Dick Wagner, co-founders of the Nazrudin Project in 1994, introduced a life planning focus, bringing money issues into a bigger picture. We recognize that money plays a role in our future, but there is far more involved than that. Do we ask ourselves the same questions that we ask of clients? Often, we do not.

Aging and Succession Planning

True well-being involves meaning and purpose. What challenges will you face in the next 10 years, and 10 years beyond that? What will have transpired in your life, that of your family, and that of your practice and associates? What constitutes financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual success? Have you recognized the linkages between all four?

You plan for major events in life—coming of age ceremonies, college, weddings, vacations, business and professional growth, major purchases, and retirement. You may have marketing and business plans. Do you have a comprehensive plan to age well, to grow purposefully into your future? You will leave your practice someday—voluntarily or involuntarily. How will you extract the value that you have built, either for retirement or heirs? Have you provided for succession with a well-crafted plan

We know financial advisers who died young, and due to a lack of planning, left a mess. If death came like a thief in the night, what would be the impact on your family, associates, employees, clients, and your legacy? This is not something to be thought about only when you receive an AARP membership in the mail. Those who are potential successors to aging advisers and are just starting to build something of value need to consider issues of business growth and continuity now.

“Succession planning” or “exit planning” may be akin to saying, “Let’s plan your funeral”—a bit of a downer. Let’s encase the topic within a more dynamic resolve to build business value and assure continuity.

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Call Connie Dello Buono, Insurance Broker in 50 US states at 408-854-1883 motherhealth@gmail.com CA Life Lic 0G60621 to use life insurance to protect your business and its future. 

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