Life On Life's TermsTM

Investment Planning For the Life We Actually Live


A perspective on wealth management by Henry E. Frenzel, CFP®Vice President/Investments at Stifel. We live in a society where attaching stereotyping labels to people is common. This is not new news, it’s been a part of culture for a very long time. Certain labels are inappropriate or disparaging, and we now call these socially unacceptable. Others could be harmless or even funny. But let’s face it, to some extent we have all been stereotyped. I’m guilty, innocently I hope! For example, I see the world in two  ways, those with children and those without. That’s right, having children is so all encompassing to me  that I believe it changes almost everything in a person’s life, male or female. Although my belief may or may not accurately reflect reality, my unconscious thought is tucked away somewhere in the back of my brain.

The banks, wealth management industry, and other financial institutions stereotype you and other people by the amount of money you have. Unfortunately, these firms are quite at ease segregating people by the amount of money one has and then slapping a label on them. Are you a high-net-worth individual? How about ultra-high-net-worth, maybe core affluent, or how about a term like small household (another way of saying “poor”)? Whatever the label these firms want to use, I see them as a roadblock to helping families engage in wealth planning. How does the amount of money you have change the drama of life’s unexpected?

Life’s unexpected should be the expected, just as change is the only constant.

Think about it, if you bring a baby into the world, and that same child volunteers to put himself or herself in harm’s way in service of his or her country, how do you feel as the parent? Does your net worth have anything to do with the emotions you feel? What about a natural disaster like Super Storm Sandy - how  must it feel to know that a storm is barreling toward your home amd your community? If everything you have worked for your whole life is in that home, does your net worth make a difference?

The challenges of life are real for all of us, as are the rewards. I have been fortunate enough to assist those who have had great success in their careers and businesses. For them, one of life’s unexpected occurrences has been delivered in the form of a financial windfall. And I promise you, not a single one of  these people “expected” to have the financial success they have achieved. Hard workers, yes, however, did they expect to make more money a month in vested stock options than the average worker makes in a year? No way. Did they expect, for example, to sell a business for 10,000 times the price of the house they grew up in? No, unexpected, but nice. Sometimes life will reward for taking risk, being in the right place at the right time, luck, vision, along with skill and hard work.

To engage more people in wealth planning, I have created the wealth planning concept of Life On Life’s Terms™. My process is based on an investment planning mindset and system that I’ve developed to expect the unexpected. It simply refers to a basic understanding that many “things” happen in life regardless of the best-made and best-intended plans. When viewed this way, my hope is to encourage confidence in the planning process to help you prepare, regardless of where you may think you are financially or whatever stage in life.

Certainly, when life’s unexpected events happen, it is not the time to be worried about your financial affairs. In fact, common sense tells us that moments of exuberance, despair, grief, those highly emotionally charged times, are exactly the wrong time to be making financial decisions. Remember, Life inspires, challenges, celebrates, tests, gives, hurts, prepares, rewards, surprises, and  happens On Life’s Terms™.

I hope you will allow me to help you prepare for life's unexpected.