117 E Elm Street
The Sin of Assumption
“I’m very diversified” said the client as he handed me a stack of account statements. That comment and the smug look on his face made me proceed with caution. I have heard people say those words in various forms hundreds of times in the last 27 years. I have observed that it is rarely accurate and mostly misunderstood. But I am a very empathetic person and really try to help folks correct their thinking without feeling embarrassed or defensive about it. This particular case happened years ago and the gentleman had 6 accounts with 6 different companies and thought he was diversified. Unfortunately, he had each account invested in the exact same large cap mutual fund. He was as far from diversification as he could get. I gently informed him of the truth but it didn’t go well and I was never able to help.
I see this same behavior of assuming in other situations, so often that I call it the “Sin of Assumption.” It’s not on any religion’s list of cardinal sins that I know of, but its effects bring evil results and are found everywhere. I know because I see them in my life very clearly. Early in my wonderful marriage, I committed the sin of assuming – thinking I knew what my wife wanted in certain situations and so, of course, I didn’t need to stop, ask, or listen!!! You can imagine the bumps in the road that has caused over the years. I am chagrined to admit that they were mostly my fault. After all these years I’m still learning!
I have also found that I need to be regularly reminded of my potential for falling into this sin. If I resist those reminders I do so to my own hurt. The funny thing is that I am one of these reminders for other people. In my practice I regularly probe, discuss, and reveal this sin potential in client’s lives. I don’t use the sin name often but it is the work I do. I do it somewhat reluctantly but as thoroughly as I am allowed. Let me share a few areas where I typically find this insidious sin working. The sin is often times found in the answers I receive to questions I ask. Here are a few of them.
Have you updated your wills lately? Do you have POA health care documents signed? Are you participating in a retirement program? If so what kind is it? Does your company provide a match in the retirement program? Are you taking full advantage of that matching money? When do you plan on retiring? Have you planned to have enough money to retire comfortably? How much income will you need when you retire? Have you qualified for Social Security? When are you planning on receiving it? Do you understand the other options that SS provides? Do you have the proper insurance coverages on your auto and home? Will you have health insurance when you retire? Will you have life insurance when you retire? Will your spouse be provided for if you die prematurely? How? Does your spouse know the answer to any of these questions? Does your spouse know where to get important financial information if you die unexpectedly? Do you have enough life insurance to take care of your family if you passed away yesterday? Would your spouse need help with finances if you were not available? Do you have a trust? What kind of trust? Why did you start a trust? IS THE TRUST FUNDED? Do you have any more assets than what you’ve shared so far? What if you need to have skilled nursing home care? What kind of moral values are your investments supporting? Have you started a conversation about your financial plans, hopes, and dreams?
Are there any assumptions lurking around your circumstances? Maybe we should start a conversation.
A LITTLE DISCOMFORT
“Rejoice in your trials!" we're told again and again in the Bible. Oh, but it's so hard! How? Why? A little boy named Jamie gives us a clue. He tried out for a part in his school play. He practiced, gave his all in the audition, and prayed. His heart was set on getting a part! Finally the list was posted. Jamie didn't get a part. He pressed his lips together and dropped his head in disappointment. But suddenly his head popped up again, his eyes brightened, and he rushed to his mother and exclaimed, "Guess what Mom? I've been chosen to clap and cheer!"
I’m a little bit humbled by that story. Ok—I’m a LOT bit humbled by that story. I don’t always see the alternatives when faced with disappointment. Oh, I can ‘buck up’ or be strong. But rarely do I turn from the disappointment and say, “Guess what? I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer!”
Be careful to see the deeper meaning in this story. This boy is not so childish that he doesn’t realize he missed a great opportunity. He is mature enough to see that there are other opportunities lurking nearby that have at least as great potential as the one he just missed. He was willing to set aside his own expectations (and the limelight) to see something new.
Perhaps you are facing trials of some sort. Financial trials come to mind. Medical issues. Care for aging parents or being the one cared for. Disappointments in relationships that run so deep you are unable to even articulate the pain. Looking to the little guy, Jamie, as an example, note that he first pressed his lips together and dropped his head in disappointment. It is ok to grieve whatever disappointment or pain you are facing. But, then suddenly his head popped up again, his eyes brightened, and he rushed to his loving parent. I would encourage you to enter into that phase of your disappointment. Lift your head, brighten your eyes, and run to Jesus. Express to Him the new hope you’ve found (or choose to find) in your situation. Find through Him a way to ‘clap and cheer’ in the face of your disappointment.
ANOTHER KIND OF DISCOMFORT
We have been facing another kind of discomfort in our office over the last several months, that of change. Some of you may have felt some of our “stress” and we sincerely thank you for your cooperation!
We have recently changed broker/dealers (our back office support that is required by FINRA for the sale of securities) from NEXT Financial Group in TX to cfd Investments, Inc. in Kokomo, IN. We believe this is a positive change for us and for our clients. cfd Investments’ mission statement says:
The "cfd" companies are financial organizations dedicated to providing Financial Advisers with the necessary support, tools, techniques, quality financial products, and technologies for the achievement of their clients' goals and objectives through a team of home office personnel committed to serving advisers in a Christ-like manner, believing you cannot push someone to the top of the mountain without getting there yourself.
The change to cfd has required many of our clients (not all) to sign new paperwork and send forms back to us. Some of you have received letters from NEXT in closure of our relationship with them. Some have had other questions or concerns come up.
We are very aware that there is enough stress in life without more paperwork and forms!! We so appreciate the extra effort put forth by our valued clients in making this transition. You made us look good during this process! We sincerely believe that making this change puts us in a great position to provide better service and more solid adviser/client relationships in the future.
I also want to personally thank my staff, Shannon, Kathi, and Lynda for their great assistance in the ongoing adjustments.
SO MUCH PAIN
We’ve been walking alongside so many dear friends lately who have lost loved ones. Our own church family has had an inordinate amount of loss and pain since the first of the year. We’ve lost personal friends who were very dear to us. Shannon has lost both parents in the span of the last two months.
In the midst of our personal pain and the collective pain of our dear friends, there is a joy and a peace that passes understanding. The Scriptures clearly remind us that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” for those who have trusted their lives to Him. For Shannon’s mom, trapped in a dementia-racked body for a number of years, being with Jesus is surely great joy! For us who mourn, that same great joy is a reality because we know where our loved ones are.
While this has been a season of ‘discomfort’ on a lot of fronts, we are trusting in God and walking with Him with surety. If you’ll forgive me for transitioning this entire conversation about pain back to the financial arena, I want to remind you that there are many parallels. There IS pain and discomfort in facing and dealing with your assumptions. The backstrokes required to swim out of “de Nile” (denial) are often painful and full of discomfort. But there is great joy awaiting you if you’ll face some of these concerns head on. Some folks find that they can sleep more soundly at night with the ‘known’ dangers they face than with a mountain of ‘unknowns’. Would you like to begin a conversation? We’d be happy to talk with you on any level — certainly about your financial questions. But also about your pain and discomfort. Let us help you lift your head!