The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, recently passed away with an $80 million estate… and no will. The news follows in the footsteps of other celebrities (Prince comes to mind) who never found the time to complete their financial plan. Most of our clients aren’t cashing royalty checks, but the lesson is still the same. In the financial planning world, investing steals the spotlight, but the other aspects of financial planning are what make the show run smoothly.
You don’t have much control over investments beyond asset allocation. All you can really do is hand them the microphone and let them sing. More often than not, you get a positive outcome, but even the Queen of Soul had to cancel concerts without notice at times.
What is within our control are things like estate planning and taxes. Just like the lights and sound systems at a concert, you can’t just throw it together at the last minute and expect to succeed. Having experts prepare, double-check, and triple-check that everything is set up correctly is key. Like concerts, no two financial plans are the same. The real benefit comes when everything is fine-tuned to the particular situation. The setup for an arena tour is different than playing an intimate set in the Cambridge Room at the House of Blues.
Van Halen famously had a line in their concert contract rider requiring a bowl of M&Ms backstage with “ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES”. Was this a diva-level demand? No, it was a clever recognition of the importance of the offstage preparation. If there were brown M&Ms in that bowl, aspects of the venue preparation that truly impacted the show were likely faulty as well. Sure, the band was rowdy, but they understood the value of quality planning and how it impacted their overall tour experience.
Who is reading your concert contract rider? Are your roadies just going through the motions or is an expert customizing your plan according to your wishes? Do you know what you want to happen when you exit stage left and has this been expressed in your financial plan? Investing may grab the headlines, but make sure your financial plan pays R-E-S-P-E-C-T to controllable elements like taxes and estate planning.