New clients of Sensenig Capital participate in a process that is designed to accurately uncover their true financial needs, something referred to as the “discovery” process. Likewise some of our existing clients are or will be going through a “rediscovery” meeting with us. This helps greatly in determining whether there are gaps in their financial lives that need to be addressed. In E. G. “Jay” Link’s book, “Family Wealth Counseling, Getting to the Heart of the Matter” the following excerpts struck a chord with us and we felt it important enough to share with you. By way of background for what follows, Mr. Link suggests that a common characteristic among older, wealthy couples is that there seems to be two CEOs in each family: a Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Emotional Officer.
“Let’s forget about all this ‘touchy-feely’ stuff and get on with the business of planning.”
Can you guess which one of the CEO’s makes this kind of statement? This is a classic Chief Executive Officer comment, and we hear it quite often from them. They are not so concerned about the details of where they, their heirs, or their wealth are going; they are just anxious to get there – to the bottom line.
We liken it to the army that was hacking and cutting its way through the jungle in Africa. The general sent a soldier to climb a tall tree to see if they could find out where they were. The general calls up, “Sergeant, where are we?”
The voice comes back, “General I do not know where we are, but we sure are making great time.” Sounds like a typical Chief Executive Officer at work on his estate plan.
A similar analogy would be to call AAA and say, “My wife and I are wanting to take a vacation. Can you put together a Trip-Tik for us?”
“Well, where do you want to go?” the voice on the phone asks.
“East. Now will you put a Trip-Tik together and get it out to us right away,” you say with some degree of irritation in your voice.
“But sir, where east do you want to go?”
“Stop focusing on details. I want to go east, and I want you to put a Trip-Tik together telling me how to get there,” your voice increasing in volume and intensity. “Doesn’t he understand?” you think. “I need and want a Trip-Tik, and I am not interested in planning out a detailed trip. Doesn’t he know I am a very busy man? My time is precious. All he needs to know is that I want to go east. Isn’t that enough?!”
Obviously it is not. In fact if you travel east long enough, you will end up right back where you started, having covered lots of ground, but not having made much progress – unless movement is your sole objective.
Likewise, having a few general ideas about what you want to do with your life and your wealth is inadequate to develop a comprehensive life-plan that will maximize your personal potential and financial leverage.
If you and your spouse wanted to go on a world tour that would take you to twenty-four countries and last a year, how much time would you spend planning that trip? Probably weeks if not months. Should it be any different to set aside a substantial block of time to determine what you want to do with your wealth – both for the rest of your life and when you are no longer here to use or control it?
The fact is that touchy-feely is a regular part of our lives, regardless of which CEO you are. Consider why you bought the car you did instead of the other cars in the same price range. You liked it. Touchy-feely. Why did you buy the suit for sale at the same price? You liked it. Touchy-feely. And why did you buy the house you are living in instead of the other homes available at the same price? You liked it. Touchy-feely. Why do people choose the spouses they do? What drives their decision to marry a particular person, their minds or hearts?
You see, almost every decision we make is based to some degree upon feelings. Facts may or may not be included in the decision. “Where do you want to go to eat tonight, Honey?” you are asked. “Oh, I feel like Italian food tonight.” The friends you choose, the advisors you retain, the clothes you buy – these and hundreds of other choices all have an emotional aspect.
Why should we suddenly now resist getting in touch with our feelings when it comes to making some of the most important choices of our lives? These choices will affect us as well as our families for generations to come.
“Just because we engage our hearts, does not mean we simultaneously disengage our brains.”
However, since each of the family’s CEOs are naturally inclined to be either more logical or more emotional, it is all the more important that they work together to bring balance and perspective to the planning process.
Remember that people are most powerful when they are able to think and feel at the same time – when their heads and their hearts are working as one. When you get two people thinking and feeling as one, there is an exponential increase in the power and impact of the process – the whole is decidedly greater than the parts. That is why we insist both spouses by engaged fully, both mentally and emotionally, in this process. The combination produces phenomenal results!
Source: Adapted from Family Wealth Counseling, Getting to the Heart of the Matter by E. G. “Jay” Link, pp. 63-66.