A Wealth Manager’s Perspective on a Client’s Loss of Mental Acuity

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A Wealth Manager’s Perspective on a Client’s Loss of Mental Acuity

by | Aug 4, 2014

Throughout my career I have had the privilege of developing many long term relationships with clients. These relationships have been built on a foundation of trust as well as a desire to achieve mutual goals. Some of these clients have been with me since I began my practice over 25 years ago and I know they would agree that the advisor I am today is not the same advisor I was back then. The key has been to continue to attract high quality, competent team members who possess a genuine concern for others.  We’ve also developed key processes to help us provide a consistent, positive client service experience for them and for me personally.  Making a difference in their lives is what it’s all about. As I work with clients, I have the privilege of helping them define, plan for, and put into place, the necessary actions and provide the tools necessary to achievement their goals.
Because its inevitable that everything changes, this is a continuous and ongoing process which allows me to share in the joys as well as the difficulties of their lives. The former is the reason I chose this profession, the latter is why a meeting with me can at times be somewhat unnerving. Many of our conversations involve issues that most people know they need to address, but tend to kick them down the proverbial road like the possibility of needing long term care insurance, putting more away for retirement or the necessity of establishing an estate plan. However, the commitment I make to my clients is to provide intentional accountability to make sure the to-do’s are accomplished in a manner that puts their interests first.   As a professional, I am most fulfilled by making meaningful connections with others and creating strategies to inspire confidence through deliberate commitment to their future growth.

One of the most difficult, sensitive, heartbreaking challenges I face is when a client begins to lose mental acuity. Whether this loss is a result of dementia, another medical condition, or just a normal consequence of aging, the effect poses special challenges for them, their family and us.  Another more difficult conversation is to sit and discuss their wishes in the event they suffer a health or memory related difficulty.  In cases where they would benefit from another person being part of the financial planning process, we discuss who to contact and what steps will need to be put into place. The purpose of this conversation is not to provide these designated people with access to confidential financial information, but rather to give them assistance they need to fulfill the client’s wishes in a caring and well planned manner. 

My most recent experience with a client suffering a loss of mental acuity involved an elderly client approaching me to let me know it was time to involve his designated family member in the process. While it has been difficult watching a long time client and friend go through this, we were prepared and had an action plan to set in motion that was already mapped out.  By taking the time to have this conversation ahead of time I was able to help him plan for and navigate what was already a difficult situation, as well as fulfill a part of what is my long-term commitment to all of my clients. “Clarity and Confidence for Life” it’s not just a tag line.   While it is my pleasure to see my clients achieve their goals, it is my privilege and awesome responsibility to be entrusted with many of the details of their financial lives.

Any opinions are those of Thomas Fleishel and not necessarily those of Raymond James.


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