FPA Annual Conference Blog

  • 4 Tips to Support Grieving Clients

    Amy Florian was a 25-year-old with a 7-month-old baby when her husband John kissed her good-bye to go on a business trip.

    A car hit his car and John died instantly.

    Florian was devastated. She had money from a life insurance policy she needed to invest so she sought out a financial adviser. He did right by her in terms of investing her money well, but he just didn’t understand what she was going through. He sometimes made her feel like a number in a portfolio rather than a whole person.

    “I stayed with him for some time because it was clear he knew how to invest my money,” Florian explained. But then she switched. She found a planner who made her feel more comfortable.

    Widows oftentimes feel uncomfortable with financial planners as shown in the fact that more than 70 percent switch advisers after their husband’s death. It’s helpful to clients for you hone in on your skills in helping your clients deal with their grief.

    Helping Them Through
    Baby boomers are getting older.

    “We had a baby boom,” Florian said. “We’re in for a death boom and we’re not prepared.”

    You are going to have to deal with your client’s grief and that first appointment with the surviving spouse after their partner dies is difficult.

    “It’s awkward,” Florian explained. “It’s uncomfortable.”

    But with these helpful grief support tips, you will help your clients. It is important, Florian said, to note that grief happens whenever there is a transition, whether it’s death or moving to a new city.

    Ask open-ended, invitational questions. Some examples include: What happened? Who was with you? How did you find out? Then after a few months have passed: Last time we talked you said you felt a certain way, do you still feel that way now? Grieving people want somebody who will listen.

    Stay away from the standard responses, “I’m sorry,” or “I know what you’re going through.

    Know that there are two main styles of grief: instrumental grievers, who focus more on their heads (things like logistics and specific events); and intuitive grievers, who focus more on their heart (the experience of everything, what they are feeling).

    Have boxes of tissues everywhere, but never hand them a box of tissues when they are crying as doing so will send the message that you are making them uncomfortable and you want them to stop. Say, “You could use any of these tissues if you’d like, it’s up to you.”

    Let them know that your office is a safe space and that they can cry. Encourage them to feel their grief, because that is the truly strong thing to do.

    Have them write down their fears. Ask them what’s the worst thing they can imagine happening to them right now and have them write it down. Studies show that when you write down fears, you take away their power.

    “I’m teaching you to do the right thing for your client,” Florian said. “It’s what we all should be doing, we just haven’t been taught.”

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  • Ray Ferrara Honored with FPA’s Highest Individual Award

    Ray Ferrara, CFP®, accepts the prestigious P. Kemp Fain Jr. Award on Thursday morning.

    Ray Ferrara, CFP®, accepts the prestigious P. Kemp Fain Jr. Award on Thursday morning.

    Ray Ferrara, CFP®, took the stage during the general session on Thursday at the FPA Annual Conference—BE Baltimore, to accept the P. Kemp Fain Jr. Award, with a standing ovation from his financial planning peers.

    The annual award is bestowed upon an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession in the areas of service to society, academia, government and professional activities, and upholds FPA’s Core Values of competence, integrity, relationships and stewardship. It is FPA’s highest individual award.

    “I’m humbled, I’m honored, and I appreciate FPA’s recognition,” Ferrara said. He thanked his wife of 46 years and told the room of planners, academics, and financial services industry company representatives that there is life after being a fiduciary. “You can prosper and thrive as a fiduciary, regardless of the headlines.”

    Ferrara, who is chair and CEO of ProVise Management Group in Clearwater, Fla., has four decades of experience and has served on the board of directors for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., FPA, and National Advisor’s Trust Company.

    For more than a decade, Ferrara hosted radio’s “Talking Money” and authored several articles, videos, and CDs on various financial topics. He was featured as one of America’s best financial planners in the book Secrets of the Wealth Makers and is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the FPA of Tampa Bay Chapter.

    While serving as chair of CFP Board’s board of directors, Ferrara was active in the Financial Planning Coalition’s work to advocate for the DOL’s amended definition of “fiduciary” under ERISA. Ferrara has been a strong proponent of a fiduciary standard as well as for making the most of the opportunities that rulemaking provided to raise the visibility and reputation of the profession.

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  • Cal Ripken Jr.: “You can’t do anything if you sit on the bench”

    CNB's Sharon Epperson interviews baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. during the opening general session at the FPA Annual Conference

    CNBC’s Sharon Epperson interviews baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. during the opening general session at the FPA Annual Conference

    Baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. wowed the crowd Wednesday morning at the opening general session of the FPA Annual Conference—BE Baltimore with baseball anecdotes, inspiration and words of advice. CNBC’s Sharon Epperson interviewed Ripken Jr. on stage, fielding questions from attendees. Here are some highlights:

    On lessons from baseball that planners can bring to their craft:

    “It’s about the amount of work you put in; your work ethic means a lot,” Ripken Jr. said, drawing an analogy to the fact that baseball players put in thousands of hours of batting practice for just four at-bats in a game. “Think about how much preparation has gone into those four chances,” he said.

    On his secret to longevity and perseverance (Ripken Jr. holds the MLB record for the most consecutive games played: 2,632):  

    “It has a lot to do with the strength in your mind,” he said. “You must convince yourself you can do it. Once you do it once, you have the confidence to repeat it.”

    Epperson asked if he ever just didn’t feel like going to work some days. He responded that he always thought that the days he felt the worst were going to be his best days.

    “You can’t do anything if you sit on the bench.”

    He admitted that it can be hard going to work every day, but he loved being in the game.

    “If you love what you do, the key to showing up is in that love.”

    On building the right business culture:

    “Choose the right people for your team; nothing replaces smart, talented people.”

    And when you realize you haven’t made the right or the best hire, act quickly.

    “Never delay the inevitable,” he said, adding that over the years as a business owner, it’s taken him a little too long to make changes when an employees wasn’t working out for the best.

    “My advice for new business owners is really look at the business and the value [of an employee], and if you feel the person is not doing what it takes, make the decision quicker—your business will benefit from that.”

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  • 4 Tips to Help Female Clients Navigate Social Security

    Betty Meredith, CFA, CFP®, CRC®, was home sick one day and decided to watch the Suze Orman show. One show attendee asked Orman if she should claim her social security benefits. Orman immediately answered yes.

    “Even though I wasn’t feeling well I wanted to throw something at the TV,” said Meredith at the Women in Finance Knowledge Circle Summit presentation on Tuesday Sept. 13. Orman didn’t ask any relevant questions like was the woman in good health or did she had a spouse whose benefits she could claim.

    “It was the worst answer,” Meredith said.

    Your female clients have unique issues you’ll need to help them navigate, such as the intricacies to claiming Social Security.

    Mary Beth Franklin, CFP®, contributing editor to InvestmentNews, said that there are some key things to remember when it comes to advising your female clients on Social Security:

    1.) There are four potential Social Security benefits for women. You can help them navigate benefits based on their own retirement, benefits based on a spouse or ex-spouse, benefits for being a caregiving parent of a child under 16 or a child who is permanently disabled or survivor benefits for a spouse or ex-spouse.

    2.) Help your clients understand that it’s a permanent deduction for them if they claim Social Ssecurity benefits early. For every year they wait, they get 8 percent more in benefits. So if they wait until age 70 to claim benefits, then they’ll see a 32 percent increase in benefits.

    3.) Two claiming strategies are no longer. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 eliminated the file-and-suspend strategy and phases out the ability to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits.

    4.) There must be at least 10 years before ‘I do’ and ‘I don’t’ to claim benefits for an ex-spouse. Divorced clients who want to claim spousal benefits must have been married to that person for 10 consecutive years and currently single to be able to claim benefits on an ex-spouse.


    anaheadshotAna Trujillo
    Associate Editor
    Journal of Financial Planning
    Denver, Colo.

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  • Discover Baltimore During BE

    The Washington Post recently published an article about best places in Baltimore to check out, I thought venture seekers might want to explore these top picks that I found are a short walk or ride from the convention center. Discover Maryland’s best:

    Pickles Pub
    Directly across the street from Oriole Park (home games Thursday and Friday night during the conference), Pickles has a large outdoor area with multiple bars and stands selling foot-long hot dogs and Italian sausages. 520 Washington Blvd., Baltimore. 

    Bo Brooks
    The restaurant is known for crabs on its dockside deck, but it also has a large tiki bar where orange, cucumber lime and grapefruit jalapeño crushes are crushed, customers play cornhole and the vibe is more Ocean City than Baltimore. 2780 Lighthouse Point, Baltimore. 

    L.P. Steamers
    Every Baltimorean has a favorite crab house and can tell you why it’s better than all the others. This summer, we’ve been picking crabs at this 20-year-old institution in South Baltimore’s Locust Point neighborhood. Go for the sweet, meaty blue crabs, stay for the hush puppies and homemade sides. 1100 E. Fort Ave., Baltimore. 

    Eastern European at Sophia’s Place
    Ukrainians, Poles and other Eastern Europeans began arriving in Baltimore in the 19th century and the areas around Fells Point and Patterson Park still have churches and businesses catering to these communities. Sophia’s Place, inside Fells Point’s Broadway Market, is a destination for fried pierogis, borscht and stuffed cabbage, among other Polish treats. Inside Broadway Market, 1641 Aliceanna St., Baltimore. 

    Mount Vernon Marketplace
    Baltimore is a city of markets (Lexington, Cross Street, Broadway), and the newest one, which opened last October, has a decidedly foodie bent. There are stands specializing in Korean mandu and bibimbap, charcuterie, sorbet, Chesapeake oysters and Ethiopian coffee. Thirsty? One counter sells beer and cider by the glass or in growlers to go. 520 Park Ave., Baltimore.

    For cultural buffs:

    American Visionary Art Museum
    The strange, beautiful and otherworldly combine at this museum, which celebrates outsider and self-taught artists. Don’t miss the collection of kinetic sculptures from the annual race around the Inner Harbor. 800 Key Hwy., Baltimore. $15.95 general admission, $13.95 seniors, $9.95 students and children; age 6 and younger free.

    Fort McHenry
    The birthplace of our national anthem is full of living history, with soldiers, musicians, artillery and musket demonstrations, and, of course, the raising and lowering of a reproduction of the Star-Spangled Banner. 2400 East Fort Ave., Baltimore. $10 general admission, age 15 and younger free. Admission is good for seven days.
    dan-serraDan Serra CFP®, CDFA, ADPA, EA
    Chevy Chase Trust
    Bethesda MD

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  • Download the Mobile App

    phoneAccess the conference mobile app for your Droid, iPhone or iPad to have the latest conference information at your fingertips.

    The conference app will organize your schedule, allow you to view sessions and presentation handouts, give you information about exhibitors, get you acquainted with the convention center layout, connect you with attendees and more!

    To download the app - search for “FPA Events” in your app store. For attendees with Windows phones, please access the web-based version of the app.

    If you have used the app - click on the FPA Events icon on your phone to launch the app. The event you used the app for last will appear. Click on the three lines on the top left of the screen and the cog in the next screen located at the top right. Select “Back to All Events” and tap on FPA Annual Conference – BE Baltimore 2016 to download. Make sure you enable notifications to get the latest updates onsite!

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