Emergency Adjustments

When the stock market bubble burst in 2000, Randy Asante sought professional help managing his investments. The 42-year-old accountant had been investing in the stock market on his own since 1998, but after losing $6,000 when the market crashed, he looked for a better way to invest. “After I lost my money, I realized that I had to diversify outside of the stock market because it was too risky,” Randy says ruefully.

A lot of things changed for the Asantes in 2000, and Randy felt they needed help fashioning a comprehensive financial plan that would take those changes into account. The Asantes, who are originally from Ghana, purchased their first home, valued at more than $300,000, in Mount Vernon, New York, in November of 2000. They had fulfilled part of their American dream but exhausted their savings in the process. Both Randy and his wife, Rosemund, withdrew $25,000 from their employee-sponsored retirement accounts to come up with the down payment. They moved into their home in January of 2001, and today its value has doubled.

Rosemund, 42, gave birth to the couple’s second child that same year and was on maternity leave from her job as an anesthesiologist. When she became pregnant with their third child, she realized she needed a better disability package. “I had to be on bed rest for a part of my pregnancies, so I was very interested in having more disability insurance to cover the time I was not working,” she says.

When Randy started searching for a financial adviser, he was referred to AXA Advisors Vice President James Wright. Wright met with the couple during the summer of 2001 and by the fall, they’d hired him to prepare a comprehensive financial plan. The Asantes were concerned with five key issues: financial independence, retirement planning, estate planning, education planning, and life insurance.

“The September 11 events had a definite impact on how the Asantes viewed their situation,” says Wright. The terrorist attacks created an economic slowdown in the U.S., and since the couple had already depleted their resources to purchase their home, their outlook was somewhat conservative. Wright devised a plan that took into account survivorship needs, income replacement, retirement planning, and education planning for the children. “My aim was to bring light to all the issues and then prioritize, starting with the fundamentals,” he says.

First on their list was to protect their children’s future needs should the worst happen, Wright established a $1 million life insurance policy for Rosemund — $750,000 in term life and $250,000 in variable life — and increased Randy’s life insurance from $500,000 to $1 million. Wright also increased Rosemund’s disability coverage. He added $4,900 to the $4,700 per month group coverage policy she had through her job to bring her total monthly disability coverage to $9,600. Now, she has a $5,000 per month benefit that pays $60,000 in tax-free income should she become disabled or need to be on bed rest for another pregnancy.

“We discussed estate planning, but nothing has been finalized because the