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Simple Talk and Sincere Relationships

Financial planning: There’s an app for that.


That’s a bit snarky, but in reality, it is what most financial planners are thinking when the topic of online financial tools is mentioned.

Bring the subject up among financial planning professionals and you will readily hear that there ought to be a real live advisor handling the application of that app and educating the client, or app user, on how it impacts his or her financial situation.

“These apps and all the technology are tools,” said Russell G. Luce, president of Planning Legacies Financial Group in Oak Lawn, Illinois. “But you cannot have one without the other. If the tools are not used in a team approach with an advisor educating the client, it won’t achieve the client’s goals. Education and application go hand in hand. You cannot solely rely on the tool.”

Luce also said that unless your expertise or interest is centered on financial matters and investing, why take time away from your family, hobbies, or other interests by struggling to learn something that a professional can help with more easily.

He gets the notion that some folks want to dabble.

Go ahead.

But do it with a limited amount of money that does not impact your future financial security.

“Some people just love playing with investments and that is just fine,” Luce said. “Here is what I tell clients: ‘Sure, you want to do some day trading? Okay, here is a small pot to do that with, but let’s make sure that I continue to manage what is important – the money you need to grow for later in life – so that when you go to retire, you can continue your day trading hobby but still be secure.’”

Luce is a “tell it like it is” kind of guy, so he will tell you straight when it comes to dealing with financial matters.

It’s due in part to his 25-years in the financial services industry – his second career, and to his first career with the police department.

But a big part of why Luce doesn’t mince words comes from his own life experiences: a mother who died penniless in long-term care, and his two children who have been diagnosed with autism and planning for their financial future.

He has seen the nit hit the grit. He knows first-hand the reality that life and its interaction with money can create.

Most families with special needs children simply cannot afford Luce’s services, but he works with them anyway on a pro bono basis because he knows the great difficulties these families face.
While special needs planning is a niche that some planners may be drawn to serve, Luce’s advice to them is simple:

“Don’t do it just because it is niche. Do it because you care.”

He understands the challenges and nuances of special needs planning.

“I live it,” he said.

All financial planners – just like bartenders and beauticians – are part psychiatrist, Luce said. At least it’s true if they are doing their job correctly in getting to know the client well beyond a financial transaction. But with special needs planning, the emotional and mental aspects of the job take on a whole new meaning.

“You have to help the client deal with the emotional side of this before the financial and legal issues can be worked through,” he said. “Often times, you have to help them identify who is going to help with that special needs child when they are an adult after the parent has died.”

It’s not a topic neatly tied up in ribbons and bows, but it is one of life’s realities.

Planning in general is something Luce knows people – including those without special needs concerns – would rather not do.

It’s why he strives to keep the process – and the lingo – as simple as he can while not losing the context of what he is trying to convey to the client on their behalf.

At age 54, he knows he won’t be around forever – someone else will take over his practice when he either retires or dies. He wants his clients to be in the position of being able to clearly communicate with his successor regarding the “how, what and why” of their financial plans.

“I want them to be able to say, ‘this is why Russ did this,’ and ‘this is the plan we made with Russ,’” Luce said.

His goal in educating the client is not to overwhelm them as if they were prepping to take an exam. Instead, his goal is for clients to leave meetings feeling that they learned something, and that their time with him was well-spent.

“There is no point in talking all the jargon and the language and the abbreviations that are associated with this industry with clients,” Luce said. “My goal is to keep things real simple and present the information to the client in a manner in which they can repeat it back to me. Then I know I have done my job.”

Learn more about Russell G. Luce and Planning Legacies Financial Group online at planninglegacies.com

Securities and investment advisory offered through: Foresters Equity Services, Inc./ Member FINRA, SIPC. Branch Office: 17199 N. Laurel Pk. Dri, Suite 210, Livonia, MI 48152 (734) 542-7360. Planning Legacies Financial Group and Foresters Equity Services, Inc. are unaffiliated entities.


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