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Blogs - Thought Leaders
When Did Billion Become a Bad Word?
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Partner Insights


Did you ever wonder why the word "billion" seems to elicit a terrible feeling in your gut? Do you remember when a billion dollars seemed like so much money it was unattainable? Do you remember when a millionaire was considered really wealthy? Now, a millionaire is not rich and a billionaire must have done something evil to become one.

What the headlines tell us; major corporate profits (in the billions) while there is high unemployment rates, state tax deficits in the billions, campaign fundraising in the billions, the wars costing billions a month, all of these headlines have made the word "billion" a bad word. We want to take it back so when people hear the word billon they realize it is related to something good.

But how can we make the word billion good again?  How can we tie that to something positive when it has been attached to so many negative things in our recent memory? How can we use the word to empower our aging population to make a big difference? It is philosophically simple; create a billion dollar goal.

I am challenging all financial service professionals to make a pledge. I want you all to pledge that you will empower your clients to take control of their retirement and non-retirement assets. Give them control of where their taxed money is spent. Instead of the government getting up to 40% let them take some of that 40% and give it to a charity of choice. You will be shocked by the fiscal ripple effects.

We are involved in the largest transfer of wealth our country has experienced.  Boomers (poised to inherit $11.6 trillion, but don't get me started on the T word) were the ones who started the civil rights movements, protested the war, and changed the fabric of our society in a way that we still feel daily.  They do not want to go quietly into the night, they are still fighters and we need to give them another way to fight.

There are many strategies that pre-retirees and retirees can use to take control of their money. They do not have to be ultra-high net worth; the average client with enough assets to retire can use some form of charitable strategy. Many of you have heard of lead trust, gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and pooled income funds. They are all very powerful tools that allow your clients to take control and power over one thing they feel so insecure about, their retirement funds.

Clients, friends and partners of mine have done just that. They have taken the road less traveled; they have become focused on charitable planning. It changed them, in a way that many can see on the outside but a coach sees in their entirety. Was it an easy road? No. Has it been the most rewarding work they have ever done? Yes.

Well, gee Matt, thanks for the sermon but I've got a family to feed and a practice to run.  Besides where would I begin?

Go to your local college's website and type in planned giving in the search box. You will see that they have the infrastructure in place to teach potential donors about planned gifts. This is a great way to learn the basics on charitable remainder trusts, lead trusts, gift annuities, and pooled funds. Not to oversimplify, but Google those words and there are many articles that come up talking about the pros and cons of each.

Become sponges again. Remember when you first started in the business and all you wanted to do was learn how to do your job better so you could help more people and make more money? It is time to get your second wind. It is time to get up to bat again.

It is time to take "billion" back!

Matthew Halloran,  MS, Certified Coach, is the co-author of the book, The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors, and is a sought after coach/consultant for Financial Advisors.



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