Family Ties

How three generations of one family work together to build a financial legacy

“The best thing about fee-only is that Alfred never pushes any products on us, and keeps our best interest in mind,” says Allyson. Wynne concurs, and says that she was particularly impressed with the planner’s ability to go above and beyond what her American Airlines retirement planner could provide in terms of investment choices and strategies. She advises other consumers to consider the various financial planning business models (commission-based, fee-only, or a hybrid of the two; See “How to Choose a Financial Planner,” Moneywise, December 2009) before selecting the right one. “American did what they wanted with my money,” says Vivienne, “and it wasn’t always necessarily in my best interest.”

Compare and Contrast
Within the Allen and Wynne households, there are differences in the way day-to-day finances are handled. Allyson confers with her husband on important financial decisions. “We’re on the same page” when it comes to the household, she says  “but he has a lot of financial responsibility at his job, so I handle most of the financial stuff.”
The Wynnes have a slightly different setup, as would be expected from members of the nation’s Silent Generation, that cohort of Americans born between 1925 and 1942. “I leave most of it up to Tony because he has a better knowledge of financial matters,” says Vivienne. “He’s also a bit thriftier, and wants to make sure the money is handled correctly all the time.”

The two women talk frequently and openly with each other about their families’ financial strategies—including investment opportunities, the current economic crunch, and the children’s college funds—that are sure to carry on to the third generation. According to McIntosh, the long-term plan is for the Wynnes to leave their primary residence and any remaining liquid assets (in no specific dollar amount) to their children. The Wynnes have also set aside assets for their grandchildren, and intend for that money to be used for college. However, McIntosh expects the third generation of the family to use a different financial approach. He says the recent economic crisis and the impact that it’s had on working families will go a long way in convincing someone Avery’s age of the value of saving.

“Anyone who lived through the Great Depression was forever changed by it, and came out smarter and more conservative about money,” says McIntosh, who is looking forward to helping the third generation develop a financial plan for the future, while continuing to assist  the Wynnes and Allens achieve their financial goals. “It’s very rewarding to see how solid financial planning can make a difference across generations.”

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