Reality Check

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by Rob Schulz, CFP®
February 4, 2011

Over twenty years ago my dad died from a sudden heart attack. Since then my life has been marked by many Critical Financial Events (that’s the understated term I use in my practice for a planning opportunity) but none have been as significant or life altering as that very first one in the summer of 1990.

My dad was one of smartest people I have ever known.  As a small town newspaper publisher Charlie Schulz was way ahead of his time. He understood in the late ’80’s to a very detailed level how technology and the Internet would evolve and forever change the way humans interact with information.  His first career had been as a broker for Smith Barney.  He taught me from his experience and the seeds of my low cost passive investment strategies were sowed in our philosophical discussions that many years ago.

Unfortunately, my dad was also one of the most disorganized people I have ever known. His cluttered office and desk at the newspaper plant was legendary.  Piles and piles of paper were stacked on every square inch of table surface, sometimes reaching an unstable height of four feet or so before tumbling down in a domino-like landslide.  I believe his disorganized life was partly a result of his high intelligence.  His physical capabilities were unable to keep up with the speed of his mind.

The timing of his death was not good. My retired 79 year old grandfather still owned a majority stake in the family business that was just coming out of an economic downturn. No transition plan existed and there was no life insurance on my dad either personally or at the paper.  He did not have a pension plan or much in the way of invested assets at the time of his death.  Nearly all of my parents net worth was tied to their minority stake in the company.  In other words, no plan existed for the unlikely and unforeseen circumstances that transpired.  After going through every inch of my dad’s mounds of papers and projects, we could not find his Last Will and Testament.

Needless to say, settling my dad’s Estate proved to be a prolonged, agonizing, and expensive process with an end result that was to no one’s satisfaction.

I am sharing this very personal story with you for one reason: this is one place where planning meets reality.  Some are smarter or more organized than others, but regardless I believe the complexity and uncertainty of life in our modern world requires professional financial planning assistance.

We are all human and therefore lack either the time, energy, focus, knowledge, accountability, or emotional fortitude to properly plan and implement sound financial strategies on our own. To be successful we must own up to our limitations and seek professional guidance.

Partly due to my early experiences, I have spent my entire career developing the skills, knowledge, and systems needed to help people avoid catastrophe.  Like my dad, my clients have spent their time doing what they do best: establishing successful businesses and careers.  They have hired me to help them maintain their success as life, with all of its unpredictability and risk, marches forward.

Make no mistake about it, hiring a financial planner is a big step for most people.  The financial services industry is a complicated maze of various professionals with a variety of approaches and motives veiled in multiple layers of regulatory haze that hardly any consumer could begin to understand. Coupled with the natural anxiety that comes with confiding all of your finances to another person, it’s no wonder only 28 percent of American’s use a financial planner at all.¹

For this reason I am thankful to those who have entrusted their finances to me as their adviser. In response, I am fully committed to my clients best interests to insure they are well prepared for what lies ahead.

Rob Schulz, CFP®

Rob Schulz, CFP® is a Principal with First Texas Financial Services, Corp., and a Registered Representative through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  He is also an Investment Advisor Representative through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and FTFS are not affiliated. These are the views of Rob Schulz and not those of Cambridge, FTFS, or any of their affiliates.

By Rob Schulz