Ch, Ch, Changes

Jalene Hahn |

Several of my friends will be delighted, I’m sure, that I’ve returned to the world of rock music for the title of an article. Probably best known as a musician, David Bowie studied music and dance, enjoying success as a musician, writer and actor during his working life. One of the attributes I most enjoyed was his regular ‘reinventions’ of himself, performing in different personas. Born David Jones, he became famous as ‘David Bowie’ in the 60’s, toured as ‘Ziggy Stardust’ during the early 70’s and then as the ‘Thin, Elegant Duke’ later in the decade.

One of his most famous songs, released in 1971, provides today’s title. Perhaps describing his own life, one couplet reads: Every time I thought I’d got it made, It seemed the taste was not so sweet. Does that sound in any way like your life or the life of someone you care about? We’ve heard for years that nothing is more certain than change. We see technological innovation every time we pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or search the internet but change is also occurring at a personal level for all of us.

Some of us experience change as happening entirely too quickly. We are all getting older, undergoing the changes that accompany life’s various stages. Changes in family size/status such as having or adopting children, getting married or divorced, losing a spouse or partner through death are among the most difficult to navigate. These altered circumstances force us to reevaluate things and perhaps make new decisions. A home that seemed just right might be too small if we marry or add children to our life, while that same home might seem unmanageably large following divorce or the death of a spouse. Financial reverses and health issues complicate things even more.

One useful strategy for dealing with change is to take some time to stop and consider your life goals. Make a brief list and revisit it at least annually. Some items might be short term: to be accomplished in the next year or two and others may be longer term: the next five to ten years. In addition to helping you ‘keep score’ as the years roll along, this exercise can also help when a major event occurs. You can ask yourself if your goals are still reasonable and, if not, what might be some that are more appropriate.

Often, life changes bring financial questions into focus: How much life insurance is really needed? Is retirement still on schedule? Should an investment strategy that has been working be altered in light of the new situation? Jalene and I specialize in helping people answer exactly these kinds of questions. We work only for our clients so there’s never a need to wonder if a recommendation to add life insurance or change investment directions is something we have professional experience with or simply something that will generate a commission. Our planning always begins with getting to know our clients, developing their financial profile and, yes, helping them set goals.

Even though he was financially successful, Bowie also wrote: Don’t want to be a richer man, Just gonna have to be a better man, suggesting that money may not have been the most important thing in his life. That’s something we understand too. While we are ‘financial’ planners, we deal with many aspects of our clients’ lives in order to maximize both their financial and personal well-being.

In addition to his other interests, Bowie was an inventive financier. In order to raise money to buy the rights to songs which were owned by a former manager, he sold $55 million worth of bonds to the Prudential Insurance Co. The Bowie Bonds were backed by the royalties from 287 of his songs and paid higher than market rates which worked for Prudential. But the royalties reverted to Bowie ten years later which worked for him too. He was the first to take this ‘securitization via intellectual property’ approach, an idea later borrowed by others.

Creative solutions to life’s problems are an everyday part of our work at WWA. Whether things are going along smoothly and you’d like some validation or your world has suddenly turned upside-down and you feel in need of direction and support – give us a call. Helping people weather life’s changes is one of the most important things we do at WWA.