Questions We Should Be Asking Ourselves

As a financial planner and attorney, I have a proclivity for thinking proactively. It’s a Socratic process. I pose questions as a means of helping myself and others think through areas of concern so that we may then be able to better understand and prepare for them. Below is a non-exhaustive list of questions I’ve been asking of myself, friends, family and clients.

Health Emergency Planning

  • What will I do if someone I have been in contact with is sick?
  • What will I do if a family member outside or inside my home gets sick?
  • What if it’s me?
  • What tools and medicines do I need to have on hand at home: thermometer, oximeter, sanitizers, mobile EKG and app, etc.?
  • What are the circumstances that would cause me to seek emergency medical services?
  • Which hospital would I want to go to?
  • What is the hospital’s protocols; can I just show up or do I need to call first?
  • If my circumstances were dire, would I want to be put on a life support?
  • Which leads to…

Estate Planning

  • Is my estate plan in order?
  • Do I have a physician’s directive, medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, HIPAA Release, a Will, and any other documents necessary to carry out my wishes?
  • Where are these documents located, who needs to know their location, and do they have access?
  • Who will have legal authority to make decisions on my behalf if I am unable to make them?
  • Have I talked with my beneficiaries and fiduciaries so that everyone is on the same page?
  • Have I confirmed accuracy of my beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement accounts?
  • What does my bank and all other financial institutions require to ensure a loved one can access my accounts?
  • Do I use a password protector, and have I shared username and password(s) w/a trusted person(s)?
  • Have I documented all of my important contacts and placed that with my other important documents?

Financial Planning

  • Am I organized?
  • How have my cash flows changed?
  • Am I suddenly supporting another family member or friend?
  • What is the likelihood that I may be supporting someone and when?
  • What is my savings rate and why?
  • What changes need to be made if a crisis continues for 12/18/24 months?
  • If I’m drawing income from portfolio assets, what is the withdrawal strategy in response to volatility?
  • If I’m still working, what is the likelihood of a layoff or income disruption and how long can I cover core expenses w/o income?
  • What are my core expenses?
  • Am I adequately insured? How do I know?
  • As a business owner, am I aware of and maximizing/balancing recently legislated loans, benefits, tax credits, or loss carry backs,etc?
  • If I receive employer stock as part of my compensation, what has my liquidation and diversification strategy been?
  • Am I properly diversified?
  • How do I know?
  • Am I actively rebalancing in accordance with my pre-defined investment policy?
  • Am I taking advantage of volatility and actively tax-loss harvesting to optimize my taxation?
  • If I had a loan secured against my portfolio, what was my plan so I could avoid having to sell assets at depressed prices in the event my portfolio value crossed collateral thresholds?
  • You and your advisor or banker have a plan for that, right?

Planning in the realms of personal finance, investing, and business that may have been put off, now need attention. The COVID-19 crisis highlights the value of having a plan and a trusted advisor in your corner who is available to help triage and navigate sudden unexpected issues and to provide quick and effective counsel and guidance.

But notice, all of the questions above are general and not necessarily current-crisis specific.

An advisor’s role is more than picking investments. We partner with you on everything in your financial life, from the 101 stuff to the 401 stuff: organization, budgeting and cash flow management, estate planning, debt service planning, retirement plan services for your firm, tax optimization, confirming beneficiary designations, confirming adequacy of all insurance policies and risk management strategies, ensuring employer offerings are optimized, funding education, ensuring that major purchases are made the right way and at the right time, and of course, portfolio management designed to service your plans, goals and objectives. Don’t set yourself up to react. Plan for how you will act.

At Ackerman Capital Management, we take a holistic approach to wealth management. We operate as a partner, helping our clients proactively identify and plan while working to manage risks that may arise along the path.

For questions or comments reach out to me by email.
Keith A. Pillers, JD, CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®
Director of Wealth Management



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