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In the News

Get Your Act Together

Lisa J. Epstein and Gregory J. Lane, The Practice – Financial Planning, 2003

If your clients are disorganized, they – and you – need professional help.


Our practice may be flawlessly organized, thanks to a talented staff and the latest planning software. But if your clients aren’t organized – they don’t have their financial records in order – the whole process can come to a screeching halt. Many supposedly well-organized people can’t get their hands on recent brokerage statements, last year’s life insurance annual report or their homeowners’ policy.


To remedy the situation, planners and their clients can turn to a relatively new but growing group – professional organizers. They can help your clients and strengthen the weak links in the planning engagement.


Many planners have clients who are too busy to prepare for meetings. They are doctors, lawyers, accountant, engineers and small business owners, to name a few. No matter what you give them to fill out or find, they simply won’t do it. Most importantly, giving clients almost any task will delay the start of the planning process. If their dread of getting started is intense, it is much easier to engage them if they know they will not be left on their own to get their documents organized….


Jeanne Smith, an 11 year veteran of the organizing business, gives several examples of the full-circle scenario. Her particular area of expertise is estate organization, an inventory and accounting of what individuals own and a detailed history of their key contacts. The Palo Alto, Calf., organizer compiled an estate workbook of information for a local woman who was unexpectedly incapacitated after minor surgery. Her mother flew in from the East Coast and was able to take care of her daughter, and take over her schedule without missing a beat. The older woman’s estate workbook became indispensable when her daughter, now recovered, had to settle her mother’s estate later that year.


Smith often refers her clients to financial planners, since she gets an in-depth look at all of their accounts and property. She also prepares her clients for upcoming meeting with their planner by sorting and organizing their critical papers. Her marketing network is mostly geared to those who specialize in estate planning. She regularly gives and receives referrals from attorneys and accountants and sees every reason to expand her list of planner associations, who understand how vital estate organization is to successful client relationships…puzzle piece