Recently, I was dispatched by my daughter to attend the senior project presentations at her former high school. She is finishing her freshman year at Northwestern University and her finals schedule did not permit her attendance to support her friends graduating this year so I became the virtual representative.
All of the offerings for the class of 2015 were creative, thoughtful and diverse. One presentation in particular caught my attention. The subject was “The Art of Vulnerability”. I have always been interested in the many facets of the human condition so I was intrigued to see how this topic would be handled within the window of a 30 minute presentation.
The senior, who we will call Thomas, took us on a journey led by the definition of Sonder- the realization that other people’s lives are as complex and vivid as our own. He led us through interactive mini skits illustrating how we ask questions but often are not really interested in the answer someone is giving. Or, in a group setting we are hesitant to participate for fear we will be rejected or mocked. In general, he stated that we really don’t take the time to find out the stories behind the person nor are we willing to open up ourselves for someone else to speak into our lives.
As I sat there listening, it was interesting to note how this topic affects the work that we do as divorce finance professionals. Individuals are seeking our expertise at a time in their life which is very vulnerable-the dissolution of their marital relationship. The question is, are we taking the time to understand the complex lives of our clients and how that complexity drives the analysis and allocation of their financial assets? If not, this is certainly food for thought before you might be tempted to break out that software and calculator to jump into your financial analysis.
As a certified divorce financial analyst, I continue to find it to be beneficial to let the journey of the client and the numbers inform how I provide professional services.
Interacting with my peers also gives me a window to many client scenarios and solutions which I can apply to my practice. One of the most meaningful professional connections for me since 2013 has been the yearly conference by the Association of Divorce Financial Planners which provides an excellent platform for networking and knowledge. This year’s Divorce Catalyst Conference held in conjunction with Center for Mediation & Training in New York from October 1-4, 2015 will have over 50 workshops on topics such as tax, retirement, real estate, post- and pre-nuptial agreements just to name a few.
I highly encourage divorce financial planning and other divorce professionals to attend this conference as the unique mix of information (along with the mediation prospective) and the opportunity to meet and share practice stories with others is invaluable. So, please consider setting this time aside in October for a great experience!