John Tetzloff, CLU, FICF, LUTCF, is the Catholic United Financial Advanced Case Specialist and Trainer. He leads estate planning seminars throughout the Upper Midwest. He has more than 20 years experience in estate planning and financial preparedness.
A lot of people ask me about "risk tolerance" in terms of estate planning. I like to explain the concept with a story. Once, I was working with a couple in their 70s and the wife asked me, "John, when should we get out of a risky investment?"
I said, "You know, this is an emotional subject. It's not cut and dry. One day of the week we think we should get out, and then by Friday we're in the mood to stick with it. My advice is, it's all about how you feel."
And that is my answer to the question of risk tolerance. If a person can't sleep at night because his or her money is going backwards, I don't think any amount of money or potential return is worth that. For some people, risk doesn't cross their mind when their head hits the pillow. To that person I say, "Keep it where it's at."
Risk is often connected to ages and phases. When we're younger, we're in what's called a growth phase and we're trying to grow our assets. Time has a funny way of doing things with money. It can be a good thing. We can spread out risk, ride the ups and downs along with our money, and get that long-term return.
As we get older, we're not able to absorb those ups and downs that we once could. Time is no longer an advantage in terms of finances. We should change from a growth phase to a protection phase for the preservation of those assets.
Regarding the couple I mentioned earlier, we concluded that adding another percentage point to their return wasn't a priority of their financial plan anymore. Their risk tolerance had decreased significantly. They needed to focus on hanging on to the assets that they had and to make sure those assets could provide them with what they needed for living expenses and their charitable wishes. They couldn't survive if a jump in the market cut their monthly income in half.
Catholic United Financial can play a huge role in managing risk. We have products with guaranteed rates of return; that means a member's money is protected and will continue to grow at a regular rate when they operate by the terms of the contract of that product.
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