But it's important for clients to move beyond nurturing to empowerment, where they can develop greater financial literacy and resources, Conger says. She cites a client who came to her in 1985 when the woman was an telecom executive. The client married soon after and stayed home for 10 years, until her husband died of cancer in his late 40s. Conger remembers her client telling her at the funeral: "I guess this is one thing we never planned for." The client fell apart for more than a year - missing deadlines, failing to deliver paperwork, etc. When she finally invited Conger to her house, the coffee table was stacked high with bills and financial documents.
Conger spent two days at her client's home sorting through the husband's stock options, her health insurance situation and more. She encouraged the client to work part-time, if only for extra pocket change. The woman, who has become one of Conger's closest friends, now works part-time for the U.S. Tennis Association arranging tournaments.
Over the years, Conger began noticing that almost all widows redecorate their homes after a death, particularly if their husbands endured a long illness. So now Conger has newly widowed clients set aside assets in a renovation fund. "I've never had anyone recently widowed spend less than $25,000 on redecoration," she says.
A big believer in part-time jobs or volunteer work for retirees, especially Type√Ę‚‚¨‚ÄįA personalities, Conger asks her clients, "What are you going to do when you retire?" She encourages them to retire to something, not just retire from something. Conger is especially proud of one retired professor who joined the Peace Corps at age 72.
When it comes to retirement, men also need empowerment. She encouraged a retired male doctor who needed another $25,000 to $50,000 in retirement income to take a part-time job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He takes care of wounded people for short periods of time; his last stint was in Haiti. The client discovered that the job gave him a purpose in life, a strong feeling of satisfaction and much less paperwork than he had as a full-time physician.
These days, Conger's main concern is rethinking the succession plan for her practice. Although the 64-year-old practices what she preaches, and hopes to continue working for another 20 years, she has also engaged FP Transitions to facilitate a sale. "Good succession planning is a huge weakness in most practices," she says. "If I am physically unable to continue, [I want to know] my clients will still be taken care of."
Jim Grote, CFP, is a Financial Planning contributing writer in Louisville, Ky.
Conger Wealth Management, Little Rock, Ark.
Credentials: B.S. in Accounting, University of Arkansas-Little Rock; MBA, University of Arkansas-Little Rock; CPA, PFS, CFPe
Experience: General securities representative for FSC Securities and Keogler Morgan; co-founder, president, and COO of the Arkansas Financial Group.
AUM: $47 million
How I see it: "Women are the largest overlooked natural resource in the world."