It’s approaching 20 years since our country was attacked and I still have occasional nightmares about the day it happened. The morning of 9/11 I was on a flight from Newark, NJ, with one of my business associates heading to Boston for a few business meetings that day.
As we landed, the passenger sitting next to me received a phone call.He makes a grimace and says out loud, “Wait, what? What do you mean?”
He gets off the phone and tells me that his buddy just saw a plane fly into the World Trade Center in Manhattan. At that point we all assumed it must have been a terrible accident and we proceeded to leave the airport and head to our scheduled appointments.
A car was waiting for us at the airport and as we traveled to our first appointment we hear that another plane hit the second tower of the Trade Center. My business associate and I were in shock as this now didn’t seem like a random accident but an act of terror!
I said to my associate, “Shelly, we need to call our wives to find out what’s going on and to make sure they are all okay.” We both attempted to call but after several tries could not get through.
We arrived at our first destination to find out that all meetings were canceled and no planes were flying back to Newark Airport or anywhere in the US. So, we hired a car service to drive us home to NJ.
At that point in my life, my wife was 8 1/2 months pregnant with our son and when I got home a few hours later I found a note on the kitchen table saying she was at a friend’s house with our 5-year-old daughter.Needless to say, this was a very emotional experience for me, and we were all in shock, especially upon learning that one of the flights that hit the WTC had originated from Boston’s Logan Airport!
Over the next few days, I called on clients to check on them, spoke to friends and family, and learned of people in my immediate world that were lost during this tragic event. We listened and gave any assistance and assurance that we could and prioritized the value of life.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the country shut down, it felt so similar to what I had experienced back in September of 2001. I also lost my dad in April of 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus and because he suffered from dementia it felt like I lost him twice.This experience was exacerbated and more tragic because only three people could attend his funeral when we laid my father to rest.
At times like this, it makes you stop and realize how precious life is and how you need to be prepared and have those important conversations with your loved ones. I understand that this type of life-changing conversation can be difficult for all parties involved (spouse, children, parents), yet we must have the courage to think through what we want to tell them and speak in a way that captures our personal values and our deepest wishes.
How I help my clients
I have a process that takes a 10,000-foot overview and reviews the ownership and beneficiary arrangements of all life, long-term care, and disability insurance as well as tax returns, investments, retirement statements, legal documents, trusts, operating agreements, pre-and post-nuptial agreements, and LLC agreements. What I find, nine times out of ten, is that there are coordination gaps and missed financial planning opportunities which are costing people thousands if not millions of dollars, in unnecessary fees or taxes depending on their net worth.
This overview process helps my clients reduce their federal and/or state estate taxes thus enabling them to leave their money to whom they want, when they want, and in the manner that they choose.
I want my clients to be prepared and organized for any eventuality. My experience has taught me that when we are proactive we can think clearly, we are not under pressure and dealing with stress, and therefore we can make better decisions for all concerned. So often we put off having a conversation with those we love and by not planning ahead we can end up making terrible decisions in a moment of tragedy.
So, what are my thoughts now moving ahead?
I have learned to have gratitude on a daily basis for all I have and for the wonderful people in my life – my family, close friends, business associates, and of course my valued clients. Having gratitude provides me with great happiness, peace of mind, and appreciation for life. Throughout my career I’ve never been driven by money; what drives me is the desire to serve first, last and always, and continue to contribute to make a difference in people’s lives.
One of my major commitments is to educate as many people as I can and I have done this through television programs, published articles, a book published in 2013 – Simon Says®: Love Your Legacy, A Guide to Financial Education for You and Your Family, webinars, and an upcoming podcast series called, Simon Says®: Take Charge of Your Money.
I also developed a series of blogs called Simon Says®: Having the Talk, which discusses important conversations we all need to have with our parents, children, spouse, business partners and financial advisor. Over the past 16 months I’ve been working virtually doing Zoom webinars with different panels of experts on elder care planning, living through a divorce, and soon I will have one on women & finance.
I have learned how precious life is and the importance of being in a loving relationship. Witnessing the experiences of close friends, family, business partners, and clients, I realize how life can change in a minute and therefore people need to be prepared for any eventuality. I strive every day to help them do that.
Saul Simon is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors.
Simon Financial Group is a marketing name for securities and advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (Member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Lincoln Financial Advisors does not offer legal or tax advice.