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A Thanksgiving Gift

Last week we received an interesting notification from the Contact Us page on our website. Here was the message:

“This is Don and Sarah Smith [not their real names]. You were our financial advisor when we first started in the market. You are amazing. We would just love to touch base with you after all these years.”

Adam had no idea who they were, but I certainly did.

Don and Sarah were in their twenties when they stopped by our office in the local Sears store in Fairview Heights, IL. (Yes, many years ago, Dean Witter, a predecessor firm to Morgan Stanley, was owned by Sears, and many financial advisors got their start talking to people who stopped by to chat.)

At the time, Don worked for a coal company and Sarah had a house cleaning business. They had two young daughters, and like most parents, they wanted to provide better opportunities for them than they had had. The couple knew nothing about investing, so I explained how investments worked, the difference between stocks and bonds, and how they could get started.

When I read their message, I responded immediately, and we set up a time to talk. On that phone call, they filled me in on what had transpired for them over the years.

Their daughters had grown up; both went to pharmacy school where they met their husbands. I remembered helping the parents set up custodial accounts for college when the girls were young.  Their daughters and both sons-in-law are now pharmacists and doing very well. Each couple has a son and a daughter – Don and Sarah’s 4 grandchildren.

These clients worked hard their whole lives. They lived frugally, continuing to save and invest over the years. They are now retired, living off Don’s pensions from the two companies he had worked for and their Social Security. They love to travel and have been all over the world. They built a house on Sarah’s family’s farmland, which they’re thinking of selling now to move to a retirement community closer to one of their daughters. They don’t need to touch their investments, which now total over $2 million. Not bad for a blue-collar couple from a small town in southern Illinois.

Have they done well? Yes, by any measurement. Am I responsible for their success? Hardly! Their own hard work and commitment to saving and investing accounts for most of it, but they do credit me with helping them get started.

I hadn’t spoken to this couple in over 25 years, but they took the time to track me down and contact me to say thanks! It made my week, for sure!

I share this with you for two reasons.

First, it can be easy to forget the difference we make in the lives of our clients. But what we do can change their lives tremendously as it did for Don and Sarah and their girls.

And second, perhaps there is someone who has had a major impact on your life and career – maybe someone from many years ago. Why not find them and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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