I’ve Been Meaning To Do That: Best of 2023

Financial planning

The Best of 2023 episode of our podcast, I’ve Been Meaning To Do That, can introduce you to the benefits of purpose-driven wealth planning. During the podcast’s first year, host Oscarlyn Elder talked to thought leaders at Truist and elsewhere about how to explore your purpose, align your aspirations and values with your wealth objectives, prepare for unexpected events, get going on important financial tasks, and more.

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Oscarlyn Elder:


I’ve Been Meaning To Do That is now 1 year old. And as we blow out the first birthday candle for this Truist Wealth podcast, we want to reflect on the many great discussions we’ve had about purpose, wealth planning, and taking action to live out our aspirations.


I’m Oscarlyn Elder, co-chief investment officer for Truist Wealth, a purpose-driven financial services company. Thank you for joining us.


This is what we are calling our “best of” episode, so we will take a look back at some highlights from our first season in 2023. I really enjoyed recalling all the meaningful conversations we had during the year, and listening to these clips deepened my gratitude for the guests who shared their experience.


If you’ve been with us all year, this episode might prompt you to revisit topics we’ve discussed and items on your to-do list. And if you’re new to the podcast, I hope after sampling the topics we cover, you’ll take a deeper dive into the ones that pique your interest.


Since this episode will include a segment about taxes, I have a reminder. Any comments or references to taxes you hear about in this episode are informational only. Truist and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your individual tax or legal professional before taking any action that may have tax or legal consequences.


I’ve Been Meaning To Do That began with two episodes where we set the table for this series. In the first episode, I asked Alex Wagner, a Truist strategist with a deep background in purpose, about actions you can take to understand your purpose.


Alex Wagner:

For me, it starts with actions big and small. So, I know the statement and the ask of “What is your purpose?” seems so daunting. So, I would like to invite our listeners just to put that thought to the side. They're the little things, the little steps that make many steps. It's all the big, little, and everything in between that makes the difference and how you can take steps toward articulating your own purpose, but also how do you then bring it to life once you have identified and got a sense of it. And so the way I look at purpose is that it is a statement on a piece of paper or on the wall. I like to put mine up to remind myself every day as I work. So, it's just a statement on the wall until you bring it to life through the things you do.


And one of the ways I think about it is, how do I use it as a tool, is the one way, is deciding on key decisions in my life. It's a great gauge for am I living on track? Are these decisions aligned with what I truly believe and what my purpose is? And they really make it easy. If you have your purpose clearly defined, these decisions won't become that hard. They actually become easier by having that articulated. And for an example, if you're deciding on your career path, like I told my story earlier, well, it made my decision pretty clear that this was a place where I could actually bring my purpose to life pretty easily because this aligned so well. I didn't know that right before I thought about walking out the door. And I would say the other place is where I spend my time and money.


I think about this all the time. Some things you're like, "God, that seems really frivolous spending," or, "Gosh, I can't spend time on that." But the moment I force myself to take that purpose lens—what is my purpose—it suddenly makes me, either I'm straight on target or I just need to tweak a little bit of something to make it then OK, you know, it will then be aligned with my purpose or not. Or I can tweak it just a little in order for it to be aligned. So, I use it as a decision tool with big and little things. And they include, you know, trips of a lifetime, they include where I donate money, I spend my time, charity work, all of these things. And it's so much more rewarding when you feel like, OK, I feel good about what I just did, time, money, any of those, because they felt so aligned.


Even to the point where, you know, I've shared this with our investment advisor even more, just very recently, and she held me accountable. And she said, "Hey, that doesn't really seem like that's right on track." And she called me out, and it was great. And she actually pushed me to work on some of the things, funny enough, that I'd been putting off. And we just took this huge, you know, once-in-a-lifetime trip, and she said, "You haven't really finished updating that will you really need to work on," and so we did. And these are the things, I gave her this tool to help hold us accountable. And she used it, and it was amazing. And it felt really good.


Oscarlyn Elder:


In the second episode, we continued the conversation about how to explore your purpose. Erica Shalhoup, another champion of purpose at Truist, provided some great advice about not overengineering the process—something I’m frequently guilty of doing.


Erica Shalhoup:

What I would say is, the most important thing about this work is actually to not overengineer it, to keep it simple and keep it true to you. Because I think what I've found is that I spent a lot of time reading and researching and trying to figure out all the right words and make sure that it sounded the right way and that my purpose compared well to Alex's and all of those things in the beginning. And then what you realize is, that's actually the opposite of what I should have been doing. What you really should be doing is take something as simple as a few questions and distilling your values like you just mentioned, and just gut check it.


That's what I would say, the most important thing. Talk about the space and the reflection we talked about earlier, take that time for that. And then gut check and say, "Here's what I think is most important to me, and here's where I think that comes into this statement." And then the other thing I do, some of the best times are, look in the mirror and really then say, "Am I living this? Is this who I actually am? And is this what I actually believe?" Because sometimes that first layer of what I think I want to be and who I think I want to be is really different than what I know I am. And I think that's the most important part of this. It's less about what resources you choose and more about the authenticity you put into the process.


Oscarlyn Elder:


In Episode 3 we turned our attention to organizing our wealth objectives in light of our purpose. Kristin Beard, a regional director of advice and planning at Truist Wealth, detailed why it’s important to prioritize objectives and how you can approach the process. And then Bill Lyons of Truist Wealth’s Center for Family Legacy related a poignant story that taught us how life events can impact our prioritization of objectives.


Kristin Beard:

We know that many times objectives can compete with each other, and so that's why you have to prioritize because you can't accomplish everything at once. And so, depending on what would be going on in your life, Oscarlyn, for instance, we would recommend a couple of different approaches for prioritization. We might first start with what's causing you anxiety, what do you need to deal with right now? Because if we don't focus there, you're going to be distracted. And any other advice or recommendations we might provide you or try to talk to you about, it's going to be somewhat ignored because you're distracted by whatever's causing you anxiety. On the other hand, we also find that sometimes those heavier topics are just overwhelming. And so, starting with something a little easier, maybe a little more fun, really is the way we can get things started. Because if you can make some progress right away, it builds momentum. You feel like you've accomplished something and that encourages you to continue forward and take on the next thing.


Oscarlyn Elder:

All right, Bill, how about you? What do you have for us?


Bill Lyons:

I think one of the things that comes to mind for me is around the unintended consequences of some of the things Kristin talked a little bit about, are you doing what you thought you were doing? And one person I was working with, a younger entrepreneur who had created some significant wealth, he was a part of a couple of startups and had accumulated some significant wealth pretty early on in his life. And his mother, who was in her 50s, lost her job, and so he started sending her money each month. And then a couple months later said to her, "Oh, Mom, how's the job search going?" And she said, "What do you mean job search? You're sending me money, I'm not looking for a job." And he was actually really disappointed that he felt like he had pulled her back from life, that she was young and that her work had been meaningful to her and connecting with folks.


And he had this unintended consequence of he thought he was helping her, but then ended up wondering, did he diminish her life by pulling her back from full engagement in life? And so, to me, the idea of talking about the decisions you're making with the folks that you're planning for can really change the way in which you think about the priority, can help you clarify what you're really trying to accomplish, and really clarify what the steps are to really accomplish what matters most.


Oscarlyn Elder:


In our fourth episode, we had a fascinating discussion about the hidden biases that keep us from making progress on our goals. Tim Houlihan, the director of behavioral science at Truist, told us about how regret avoidance makes us time travelers, in a way, both looking forward and looking back on our decisions. Then behavioral finance expert Dr. Daniel Crosby discussed how status quo bias, which can keep us stuck in old practices, can be leveraged to engage us in good behaviors.


Tim Houlihan:

There’s another interesting thing that I find peculiar about regret. First of all, it's a powerful motivator and there's two aspects of it. There's the prospective, there's the thinking forward, which is regret avoidance. And typically, a regret avoidance is, "I don't want to do the wrong thing. I don't want to act in the wrong way." And retrospectively, when we're thinking in the past, we tend to think about regret as, "I regret not doing certain things." That it's more common for us to look back and say, "Oh, I should have done that. I really wish I did that." But prospectively, and when we're thinking about the future, we tend to get all caught up in, "I don't want to do the wrong thing." And so it's a very odd juxtaposition that we have these two sides of regret in our lives at the same time. And that brings us to some interesting crossroads as well.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Yeah, that's very powerful. And I definitely relate to that, Tim. My husband and I just got off of a week with our daughter driving around the southeast, so we went on a week-long college tour. And as I was talking to the I've Been Meaning To Do That team around recording dates, I actually said to them, "Look, I'm not giving up this time. My daughter's 16. I have two more February breaks with her, and I'm not going to look back in a few years and wish that I had been with her."


Tim Houlihan:

There you go. Yeah.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Right. So, I'm going to be disconnected. I'm going to commit to this publicly with you. So, the commitment's really important I think, for behavior. But I'm going to be with my family because I know I've only got a small amount of time where we have this time together. And I think that's a way that regret avoidance can be positive, right, is that it can compel that behavior. But you're right, there are at least two sides to that coin.


Tim Houlihan:

Well, you looked at it in this beautiful way of saying, I'm going to avoid regret by actually doing something different. I'm going to change my behavior. I'm going to act differently so that when I look back at some point, I'm not going to have that “oh, I wish I would have” kind of experience. So, bravo to you for that one, Oscarlyn, way to go.


Oscarlyn Elder:

And it was a great time.


Daniel Crosby:

I love Tim's point here. So, Oscarlyn, first of all, War Eagle. I hope your daughter goes to Auburn and has as painful a football life as I do. But I think Tim's point is so great because you used something like regret aversion and you sort of flipped it on its head and made it work for you to make more purpose-driven personal decisions. The first one that we talked about, status quo bias, I mean, status quo bias can lead us to some bad places. It can keep us paralyzed, it can lead us to mismanaged risk.


But also, status quo bias is at the root of perhaps the most profound behavioral finance intervention of all time, which is the Save More Tomorrow program developed by Shlomo Benartzi and Richard Thaler, which used status quo bias to say, "Hey, look, people are sort of lazy and locked in, so what if we just locked them into good behavior? What if we just locked them into a program of auto-enrollment and auto-escalation of retirement savings?" So, in a very real sense, you're using people's laziness for their benefit. And so, I love anytime we can take these biases, typically, we talk about them in ways that they're going to get us in trouble, but they can all be kind of flipped on their head.


Oscarlyn Elder:

One of the most difficult aspects of retirement is making the transition to it. In Episode 5, I sat down with two Truist advisors to discuss tips on preparing for the next stage and, in this segment, the importance of adding structure to your daily life in retirement.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Paul, what are our recommendations for someone going through that particular transition?


Paul Shorter:

I really want them to think about how they’re going to relate socially and professionally once they retire. It really helps to be around others that are going through the same thing. I would just recommend, you know, you’re going to be doing lots of social leisure activities. Just being around those others that are going through something similar to you is going to help you kind of navigate this new area of your life.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Yeah, absolutely. So being around others. Tony, when you think about this, do you think about it in the context of you need to have a leisure plan or an engagement plan like you need to have the financial retirement plan?


Tony Bryan:

I just think it’s incredibly important that the person we were talking about introduce some type of structure into their day. And so it could include many things, volunteering, like we talked about, maybe mentoring somebody, playing a sport, auditing college classes. I know that when I retire, I would love to go back to school and get some additional degrees maybe in history, philosophy. And I know if you guys didn’t think I was the most boring guy on the planet with the Social Security and Medicare, I know now that you’re convinced, I know. But with all kidding aside, find things that you like to do to introduce that new structure that you’re going to need and to develop those new daily routines.


Oscarlyn Elder:

What we don’t want folks to do is to wake up on that first day and go, oh my goodness, it’s 9 o’clock. What am I going to do? We really would recommend that especially in those early days of retirement, that there be a plan, that you have a sense of what are the trips you want to go on. What are the things around the house you want to do potentially. Hopefully, you’re already engaged with an organization and you’ve got volunteering set up in your future. Your social calendar. You know, it’s a great opportunity to really start connecting with people and launch into your retirement fully.


Oscarlyn Elder:

On I’ve Been Meaning To Do That, we talk a lot about living your purpose. But you can’t do this without a financial plan that puts numbers against your aspirations. In the sixth episode, Craig Cascio of Truist Wealth detailed when it’s time to revisit your plan and potentially make adjustments. And Kristin Beard returned to the podcast to provide perspective on the advisor’s role in updating a plan.


Craig Cascio: 

I would say it’s important that someone revisit their plan at least annually, but more frequently if some of those life changes that we mentioned earlier occur.


Oscarlyn Elder: 

So at least annually, but more frequently, especially when there’s a change in life. So another child, another grandchild, change in job, kind of anything that would ultimately impact the assumptions and/or the starting points for the plan maybe is the way that I would think about it. Does that sound right?


Craig Cascio: 

Absolutely. Or anything that’s going on in the world. If there is something that is moving markets dramatically or big changes in inflation like we’ve seen over the last year, those are things that are really important reasons to revisit your plan.


Oscarlyn Elder: 

Great. Kristin, how do you think about it?


Kristin Beard: 

Well, to complement what Craig said, I always like to think about how can technology help a client, help an advisor as well. There are a lot of capabilities now that connect a client’s online experience with their financial plan, and that can help a client keep confident in what’s happening when those unforeseen economic events start to take place, instead of having to reach out to their advisor right away and figure out, do I need to update the plan? They can check in on their progress through the technology that we have enabled. And so, that helps a client check in first on their own and do some of their own investigating of what’s happening, and then they can determine, do I need to check in with my advisor?


Likewise, the advisor has access to those tools and can do the same thing. They’re noticing there’s big changes that have happened, then they can do the outreach to their client, too, maybe more frequently based on what might be happening.


Oscarlyn Elder: 

That’s very helpful. Thank you for that. And within this thought of checking in with the plan on a regular basis, right: So what a plan is not, it is not a thick document that should go up on a shelf and only be pulled out every five years. What I’m hearing is that a financial plan is a road map that should be revisited frequently.


Sometimes it might be a year, sometimes it might be quarterly. Different folks have different speeds of check-ins, if you will. And sometimes they’re life events that really cause us to check in out of the routine, if you will. So there may be an out-of-routine check-in, but getting that continuous feedback loop in place, building the habit around checking in, is important.

And I want to tie this back to purpose. Because again, it’s our belief—we’ve talked about this before—that understanding our purpose and how that shapes the destination will help us with those regular check-ins to understand our progress. And then also it will help us really identify when a specific objective may have changed.


Again, we’ve talked about that maybe as being a destination change. So an objective or a goal may need to shift, or how we prioritize a specific destination or goal may need to change. And just getting in the routine of a regular check-in will help us better assess if we’re on the right path to our destination, whether it’s a destination we’ve long identified or it’s something new that we’re having to add because our life has changed.


Oscarlyn Elder:

For Episode 7, which we released in July, we went back to school to discuss preparing your teenagers for their financial future. One key discussion focused on how to talk about paying for college with your teens. Karen Kahn, a senior wealth advisor at Truist Wealth, outlined core concepts and approaches parents should keep in mind when talking to their kids.


Karen Kahn:

I’d say communication about your family’s plans and philosophy about paying for college is critical. Include your teenager in the discussion, whether your child will be funding educational costs with loans or if the education is fully funded. Different colleges and universities have dramatically different price tags, so selecting a college is a major financial decision.

As a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old, deciding where to go to college will be the single largest and most impactful financial decision they’ve made in their life. So how you counsel your kids about making college decisions sets a precedent and a framework for making other important decisions in their life.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Karen, that’s a great point. And I don’t know that many of us have thought about it that way before, that this decision—and I probably need to think about the context that, you know, when I was considering college, actually, I didn’t have a lot of dialogue with my parents around the cost. It was kind of viewed as my decision—“You’ll figure it out.” Again, there just wasn’t a ton of involvement.


I think our generation is—some of us are very different, right, in how we’re walking the journey with our kids. And so, now there is much more focus on the economic consequences of these decisions that are being made. And so walking that journey with your child is really important.


Can you share, what did that look like for you and your family?


Karen Kahn:

For me, I’d say talking about my teens—and I’d recommend you do the same—about how to pay for college well before your senior year, your student’s senior year, is really critical. So, for your student, knowing what level of family support is available can dramatically influence which school they ultimately consider.


Oscarlyn Elder:

So in our search, Karen—my daughter, Maddie’s, search—I have a spreadsheet. So you can imagine, and folks know that I’ve considered myself an overengineerer, and so I have a spreadsheet that has the universities she’s thinking about, and I have the annual tuition. And then I have the room and board, and then I have the total annual, then I actually multiply that by four and also inflate it.


And then we start some of the qualitative measures that are really important to her. So we kind of have it all in one place, but every time she pulls up that sheet, I want her to see the price tag. I think that’s just really important that she starts to understand that there is a price tag, there is an opportunity cost that is associated with this major financial decision.


Karen Kahn:

Absolutely, and I think that’s great guidance that you’re providing, Oscarlyn, because it helps her, your daughter, become an informed consumer.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Also in Episode 7, Emily Haenselman, who works with families on their college journey in her role at the Center for Family Legacy, provided her perspective on the importance of involving your teens in the process.


Emily Haenselman:

The bottom line is, you know, involving your children in the sort of financial aspect of their college education, does a couple of things. One, it gives them ownership of the process. And so, when they’re taking ownership of the process—and even by helping them maybe go out and search for themselves what merit scholarships are available through the school or through the government in some capacity and really take ownership of that aspect for it—it helps them take ownership of their education. I think that that’s a really important factor, because the goal, of course, is to finish college, right. Ultimately, you want to finish what you started. And by having some decision-making and ownership of the process, especially financially, I think that you’re helping them along that path.


And the other thing about it is, you know, we can’t make decisions—children can’t make healthy, good decisions about their education without understanding the facts, what’s available and what isn’t, and the different options that are out there. So, being transparent and clear with them about what you have available and what you don’t and what their other options are helps them make a healthy, conscious decision about what they want to do. Because the reality is, as Karen mentioned, there are these, lots of private colleges out there, and they are extremely expensive and have all kinds of wonderful aspects to them. But there’s also some really great aspects to a public education that they may not be aware of. So, really helping them understand all the options, I think, can be extremely helpful.


Oscarlyn Elder:

The eighth episode was the first of our Life Happens series. These episodes are dedicated to preparing for and responding to unexpected moments in our lives. Sometimes these present challenges to our financial plan or wealth objectives. And sometimes they present opportunities. Jacqueline Parks, a regional director of advice and planning for Truist Wealth, talked about helping a client navigate a “life happens” event. Her story highlights the importance of having a trusting relationship with your advisor so that you feel comfortable sharing critical information.


Jacqueline Parks:

I can share a story about a client who came to us and during our meeting, the client revealed that they had a child from a prior relationship that their other children didn’t know about, and this individual wanted to allow for or prepare for this unknown child to receive an inheritance.


But, I think, you know, they kind of had in their mind the classic movie scene where the family is sitting around and the attorney is reading the will and this big, revealing moment where the family is shocked to find out someone else is inheriting. And, you know, that was making this person uncomfortable. They didn’t want that situation. But by disclosing it to us, we were able to prepare current lifetime documents that would separately provide an inheritance to this individual that was secret and apart from the rest of the will and what the rest of the family would know about when this person passed away, so they could accomplish their goal of benefiting this child without disrupting the family harmony after their passing.


Oscarlyn Elder:

In the next episode of our Life Happens series, we turned our attention to business owners who are facing what we call “pivotal moments.” These are important events for a company that can mean major changes for not only the business but also the owner and their family. For this episode we were joined by Lee McCrary, head of Truist Wealth’s Strategic Client Group, and David Herritt, head of the Center for Family Legacy. In this segment they discuss a common problem of business owners in preparing for these pivotal moments.


Lee McCrary:

We often talk about business and family being two sides of the same coin. And most business owners that we work with have a lot to say grace over when running the business: taking care of their teammates, their employees, their suppliers. And oftentimes their family needs, their personal needs, their financial needs take a backseat. And what we know is that often business owners will experience a pivotal moment on average every five years.


Oscarlyn Elder:

It’s actually fairly common that business owners are going through these pivotal moments. However, it sounds like often they don’t have the mindshare to think about the personal aspect of these major events.


Lee McCrary:

That’s right, and so what David and I enjoy doing most is working with these business owners to help them understand the importance of placing their own interests and their family’s interests, their personal wealth interests, on equal footing with the business interest. So again, they can live a life well spent at that point in time in the future.


Oscarlyn Elder:

And it strikes me that in talking with both you and David in the past, I’ve heard you all mention that often after these pivotal events, that what you’ve experienced is business owners who actually regret not being more aware at the beginning of the pivotal moment—kind of the potential impacts.


And part of what we’re trying to do here is increase awareness and enable and equip business owners to use regret avoidance for their benefit. So we’ve explored this in a prior episode. I believe it was episode four. We talked about regret avoidance and how often regret avoidance can drive decision-making.


And specifically business owners can use it to their benefit in that if they have an awareness that this is often a neglected area of focus and a source of regret down the road, just having that awareness can help them hopefully shift the focus upfront so that they can use regret avoidance to their benefit and, you know, tackle the appropriate planning ahead of time and not get behind the eight ball, so to speak, from the beginning.


David, what would you add to this?


David Herritt:

Yeah, so I think you hit on a very important point, Oscarlyn, and that is that, you know, these transactions take one or two years to complete, and it really encompasses a lot of different things that are occupying the owner’s time. And that includes, when you’re thinking about a merger and acquisition, legal and accounting issues, valuing the company, thinking about how you’re going to do some cost cutting, maybe increase efficiencies, strengthening relationships with your companies, your suppliers, your employees. And what we found that many of these middle market leaders really have a do-it-yourself mentality when it comes to many aspects of running and growing their business.


In fact, there was a 2022 study by the National Center for Middle Markets that said 90% of middle market firms rely on their internal resources and only a handful believe that they don’t have what it takes in-house to execute a successful transition. So as a result, too often the owners are really underestimating the amount of time and energy that they need to expend. And given all that focus on the business transition and the compressed time frame, they feel rushed through the process. And so not enough time, as you were saying, is really being spent on these personal aspects that are going to be most impactful post-transaction.


So you think about financial capital issues like estate planning and income tax planning really should be done far in advance of the transaction, but they’re not really focusing on these areas. And then they’re not even thinking about, as they transition from a business-owning family to a family that’s now owning liquid assets, what does that mean and how do you get prepared for that?


And equally as important is preparing all of your human capital in your family for those roles and responsibilities of that post-transaction life. So you know, what does that mean, to think about how you’re going to manage your assets after the transition versus how you were running your company before the transition?


Oscarlyn Elder:

For Episode 10, which we released in October, we gave listeners some to-dos for their year-end financial planning. Mike Frost, an advice and planning strategist for Truist Wealth, outlined a tactic you can use if you want to make a charitable contribution by year-end but haven’t decided on a recipient.


Mike Frost:

Yeah, so, the last big issue we see with our clients is who to give to, because clients want to make these charitable contributions and get the tax benefit by year-end, but they’re not sure of who that eventual recipient is. So that’s where a lot of our clients are utilizing donor-advised funds.


And with a donor-advised fund, you’re able to make the contribution in the current year, but you don’t have to decide who the eventual recipient is. There is no time limit on when you move the funds out of the donor-advised fund. And in some cases, our clients even utilize these for estate and wealth transfer purposes. So, the donor-advised fund can answer that question of, how can I make a significant charitable contribution, even if I don’t know who I eventually want to receive the funds?


Oscarlyn Elder:

That’s a great point, Mike, and it gives folks the time—if they don’t know who they want to receive the funds, if they haven’t identified which organizations—it gives them time to think about what their purpose, what their values are, and then identify the organizations that they’re connected to and determine where they want to make impact that is aligned with their values and purpose.


So, what we would say as it relates to the donor-advised fund, right, is that ultimately, work with your advisory team, work with your tax expert as well to determine the path that’s best for you and if this vehicle is an appropriate vehicle to use for your situation.


Mike Frost:

Exactly, because clients feel better when their charitable giving is aligned with their purpose. And this is where not having that clarity of purpose—they may only give to a few charitable recipients, but having that time to think through it, that’s where this can become a rewarding experience for them.


Oscarlyn Elder:

We returned to our Life Happens series for Episode 11, focusing on identifying the risks in your financial plan and protecting your wealth. In this segment, Christin Kennedy, an advisor for Truist Wealth, details why rising home prices might trigger a discussion about insurance coverage. She also discusses umbrella policies, a key tool for creditor protection.


Christin Kennedy:

I think for most of our clients, one of their biggest assets is their home. So, it’s very important to have the proper property and casualty insurance as well as umbrella policies.


So, first and foremost, we always tell clients they want to review those annually, especially in the market we’re in now. You’re seeing the housing market or the housing prices on the rise, which means clients’ homes are worth more than they had been when they purchased them. And they want to make sure that the replacement coverage has kept up with the price of their home.


Umbrella policy is something we talk about in terms of liability. We like to look at our clients’ net worth, and if they have a million dollars of net worth, we typically advise a 1X ratio. They want to have at least a million dollars’ worth of liability. However, if the client has more of an active lifestyle, maybe they have a lot of teenage drivers and things like that, we may recommend a little higher of liability.


And what this does, if something were to happen—we talk about creditor—if something were to happen, like a car accident, you have your car insurance and it does have a certain limit on it. But in the litigious society that we see ourselves in, if a lawsuit were to occur, this will kick in and help insulate the family and provide additional coverage to protect the family from a creditor.


Oscarlyn Elder:

Now, Christin, you mentioned specifically about a family that maybe has a million dollar net worth. Help me understand if that net worth looks more like $10 million. Is it a linear relationship? Is it still, kind of, one-to-one that we think about that umbrella coverage, or does it change? Are there some, I guess, some tips around that, that we can share.


Christin Kennedy:

Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think with our clients that have very high net worths—$10, $20, $100 million—you’re not going to see liability coverage offered at a $100 million level or a $50 million level. So, that’s where those advanced planning techniques that Bart spoke about are super important, to kind of insulate and protect them through those advanced planning techniques.


Those clients still need an umbrella policy, but it might not be in a one-to-one relation with net worth. And so, we typically see around $10 million, a break there.


Oscarlyn Elder:

In Episode 12 we provided some perspective and tips on how to develop and achieve goals. Our guest, Dr. Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago, has spent her career researching what motivates us. One of her key findings about why we don’t achieve our goals concerns what she calls the middle problem. Ayelet explained what the middle problem is and provided a possible solution.


Ayelet Fishbach:

Now, financial goals are particularly hard for several reasons. One is the long middle. Now, the other one that is obvious is that it’s just so long term. There was nothing in our evolution as a species that prepared us to pursue goals that will only materialize in 20 or 30 or 40 years.


Our ancestors had no bank accounts and no expectations about their life expectancy that suggests that that would be a useful strategy. So, we are going to do something that is very far in the future that we are not programmed to do well and that has a really long middle. That’s not going to work.


We need to have subgoals. I need to have a financial goal for this year because having a financial goal just for 20 years from now—my mind doesn’t go that far. That’s not going to be an efficient way to motivate myself.


You avoid the middle problem by having short middles. What makes sense for you? A monthly saving goal? An annual saving goal? The shortest that they can get it, the less middle, the more motivation.



Oscarlyn Elder:

What an amazing year we had. I’d like to again thank the guests who so generously shared their experience and wisdom with us. I’m also really excited about what’s ahead for the podcast and our plans to help you fulfill your purpose and achieve your financial goals.


Thank you for joining me. If you liked this episode, please be sure to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast. And tell friends and family about it.


If you have a question for me or a suggestion for this podcast, email me at DoThat@truist.com.


Talk to you soon.     

About “I’ve Been Meaning To Do That”:

Take action on what you’ve been meaning to do with the help of this Truist Wealth podcast. In this Best of 2023 episode, host Oscarlyn Elder talks to thought leaders at Truist and elsewhere about the journey of exploring your purpose, living out your values and aspirations in your financial plan and wealth objectives, and planning for unexpected events. They discuss (time stamps are approximate):

  • Actions you can take to understand your purpose (1:40)
  • How to keep it simple when exploring your purpose (5:00)
  • Why it’s important to prioritize wealth objectives (6:35)
  • The impact of regret avoidance and status quo bias (9:20)
  • Preparing for the first days of retirement (13:20)
  • When to revisit your financial plan (15:50)
  • Talking to your teens about paying for college (19:40)
  • When “life happens,” why you should trust an advisor (24:50)
  • A common problem of business owners in preparing for unexpected events (26:30)
  • The benefits of a donor-advised fund (31:30)
  • Reviewing insurance coverage when home prices rise (33:50)
  • Solving the “middle problem” of our financial goals (36:30)
  • Final thoughts from Oscarlyn (38:20)

Have a question for Oscarlyn or her guests? Email DoThat@truist.com.