Frank Sinatra, Financial Planner

Warren Ward |

Today, Frank Sinatra joins the illustrious group of people who I think might have something to offer the world as a financial planner in addition to his other talents. His 1965 album September of My Years included a cover of the Kingston Trio song It Was a Very Good Year. It won him multiple awards, eventually reaching #1 on the Easy Listening charts and introducing him to a new generation of fans. It tells the story of a man’s life at different ages.


When I was seventeen, it was a very good year. While we often meet people later in their lives, the teen years can be a very good time to connect with a financial planner. There are significant decisions to be made about post-secondary education – and paying for it. We can help young people consider these decisions in an objective way and provide a broader context. We are also happy to assist with financial aid applications, one of our specialties.


When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year. What happens when someone transitions from a training program or college to their first real job? Are there decisions about investing in a 401(k) plan? How about living arrangements – rent an apartment or buy a home? Or that first new car – buy or lease? It may surprise some people that WWA has extensive experience in these areas – often with the second or even third generation of a family. We help clients with residential and transportation issues, then shop for the best loan rates if necessary. Those starting a job can benefit from professional help in making decisions about their options within a 401(k) or we can help set up an IRA for someone who’s going to be self-employed.


When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year. People in their mid-thirties may have children whose educations need to be planned for and, perhaps, financed. People in early middle-age are often at or near their peak earning years, sometimes allowing for contributions to retirement plans to be increased. While Social Security and other government programs are available to help current retirees, those programs are likely to be less generous in the future making personal retirement contributions critical.


This is also the time when many families need to consider their estate plans. Parents must answer the questions of who will raise the children and how will those children’s expenses be paid. Generally, we are believers in term life insurance, simply because it’s an affordable way to make certain those costs can be met.


As people grow older, life often becomes more settled with children successfully launched and retirement plans well-funded. At those times, we enjoy helping people reorient their financial lives: spending more time on hobbies and expanding their horizons beyond their work life. However, if things haven’t worked out as hoped for (the thirties and forties are not always very good years), financial planning can be even more valuable as (sometimes) difficult decisions must be made. Navigating the loss of a great job or closing a failed business can be extremely stressful for anyone and those are good times to have experienced advisors available to help.


Although not addressed in the song, we believe that retirement years can also be very good ones. Those who have adequately saved/invested find themselves with time to enjoy their families and other activities that they simply couldn’t make time for while working. During these years, we like to make sure that all physical assets are properly insured and liabilities covered. We sometimes allow life insurance coverages to lapse if they’re no longer needed.


Nearing the end of life, people naturally reflect on what they’ve accomplished. We believe that early and consistent financial (really life) planning is the best way to achieve a satisfying outcome and make the last line of Sinatra’s song a reality:


But now the days are short, I'm in the autumn of the year, and now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs. And it poured sweet and clear. It was a very good year.