The Next Step

I spent time this week with two of my favorite clients, and yes, I do have a few favorite clients.

Perry (name changed) has been a client for over twenty years.  He owns and operates a small business.  He is a true professional, dedicated to serving his customers, and a tough but generous boss.  I have referred many of my clients to him over the years.  He and his staff always get excellent reviews.  We spent over two hours on Monday talking about politics and the current state of our country.  We don’t agree on some issues, but we listen and learn from each other.  We only talk about his insurance needs After a long talk and time for him to take a couple of cigarette breaks.

My friend Perry is turning 65.  He could stay at the helm of his business for another decade or more.  But should he?  We discussed his succession plan and even had a quick visit with the employee who may buy the business.  Most advisors focus on money when confronted by this issue.  I don’t.  My first questions are “Do you want to leave and what will you do once you aren’t going to your office each day?”  Since this wasn’t the first time we’ve talked about this, he was somewhat prepared.  We also discussed whether he would make a clean break or “pull back”.  Six months ago he was leaning towards slowing down and gradually phasing out of the business.  On Monday he was clear that slowing down wasn’t realistic.  As long as he was part of the business he would be the boss and he would insert himself into every aspect of the business he created.  That was huge.  The next step is to get an independent evaluation of the business to determine the price.  He turns 65 soon.  My guess is that he will hand in his keys on December 31, 2022.   There is a lot to do till then.

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Bob and Janet (yes, names changed) have been clients since 2010.  Janet has had a number of health issues.  Bob had his fair share of aches and pains but was always the healthy one.  My staff has always loved Bob.  He had been in the military as a young man, worked hard his entire life, and had lots of stories.  We all looked forward to their visits.

Janet’s issues impact her mobility.  She currently walks with the aid of two canes.  She wasn’t moving well this week, but I’ve seen her on worse days.  No, the surprise was Bob.  He looked me in the eye and introduced himself.  Bob didn’t know me.  I knew that he was suffering from early stages of dementia when I saw them in November.  Now, now he didn’t remember me.  I snuck a peak at Janet and asked her how she was doing.  She just said that she is taking this all one day at a time.

Bob is totally unaware that he is taking the next step in his life.  There will be decisions to be made, but not by him.  It is all a sobering reminder of how lucky Perry and I, and possibly you, really are.


Picture – A Day At The Beach – David L Cunix