“I’m not interested in my legacy. I made up a word: ‘live-acey.’ I’m more interested in living.’’
At age 77, the author of that quote not only held a seat in the United States Senate, he also took a seat as a crew member on the Space Shuttle Discovery and went into orbit around the earth . . . for a second time. Of course, we are talking about John Glenn.
So, what does the life of John Glenn, a true hero, have to do with the financial planning of us earthbound mortals? It has to do with Glenn’s wonderful coinage: live-acey. The minute you start to plan for a financial “live-acey,” you change not only the conversation, but your vision, your attitude and, yes, your strategy.
You begin to think of a legacy not as something you leave behind, but something that you live now, something that you enjoy, now. Rather than saying, “Well, after I’m gone . . .,” you start saying, “Well, while I’m still here . . .”
It comes down to this: How you plan, in fact planning itself, determines your perception and handling of your wealth. When high net worth investors have no plan or just a skeletal version of one, chasing returns often becomes the central focus. This is not to say that returns are not important, but they should be one goal among a multitude of goals.
You begin to think of a legacy not as something you leave behind, but something that you live now.
Chasing returns from the latest, suddenly hot category, leads to ineffective investing.
Simply put, because an investment is hot, it has grown, maybe about as much as it will grow. Which means you are paying close to top dollar with little room for growth. Or, as someone once said, when you jump on a financial bandwagon, you have already missed the best part of the trip.
In contrast, when you start to plan, really plan—and if I may say, with a person who does planning for a living—several things happen. You end up with a true grasp of how much income your investments do, and can, deliver. You get an unbiased assessment of the health and growth potential of your business. As a corporate officer, you get an honest assessment of the current and potential worth of stock options.
In short, you don’t ignore growth, but you do focus on nurturing, cultivating and maximizing the wealth you already have. For example, you make certain you pay only the taxes required by law. You also focus on your income needs now and in the future, while each year gifting your children the maximum allowed. It is all part of making sure that your children, and their children, have the same opportunities you had. And you get to watch it happen.
Planning also focuses the conversation on what really should concern you, and reduces the angst from every single financial ripple across the globe, ripples that in most cases will affect your position little if at all. After the planning process, clients have said to me, “I literally sleep better at night.”
In my experience, once the planning process concludes, clients are often pleasantly surprised to find out that it will take a whole lot less than they thought to achieve all of their goals. And that is what really changes the conversation.
With a surplus, you can start on some serious “live-acey” projects. Maybe you found a charity, or a scholarship in your name, or create and donate an art collection, etc. All are “legacies” that you can see come to fruition. Meaning, you enjoy your well-deserved emotional reward while you are, yes, “still here.”
Investing involves risk. Investment return and the principal value of an investment will fluctuate, and an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Advisory Services offered through Strategic Financial Group, LLC (dba SFGI, LLC in Illinois), a Registered Investment Advisor.
This article was originally published in the May–July 2017 issue of Worth.