Morgan Stanley
  • Wealth Management
  • Feb 11, 2021

The "M Word" Blog: Money Talks and the Four Seasons

Lori Sackler uses inspiration from Vivaldi to explore the four seasons and their impact on financial decisions.

Famously, Antonio Vivaldi composed instrumental music intended to evoke the changes of Fall, Winter Spring and Summer. He called it the Four Seasons. 

Here, this year, I’d like to echo that inspiration with four columns matched to the season, beginning with “Spring Cleaning.”  So if you have a music app on your smart phone, key in Vivaldi’s Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "Spring" (La primavera). 

The sound track is instructional beyond nice music.  Like many of us, Vivaldi knew that each season was unique, evoking different sounds, experiences and emotional responses. We can easily extrapolate to our human experience, the impact the seasons have on our personal lives, our relationships and even our financial decisions.

Often, I speak to my clients about life’s transitions and the impact they have on our finances and relationships with family members and loved ones. As you may recall from my previous blogs, the basic life transitions are: changes in financial circumstances; marriage, remarriage and merging families, retirement planning; caring for an elderly parent and; preparing heirs, estate transfers, and business successions. It’s easy to see that the rhythm of these “seasons” can provide a parallel to the seasons of our lives and the various transitions we need to talk about, plan for and work through.

In this first blog in a series of four tied to the four physical seasons, I will tackle the notion of “Spring Cleaning” as it relates to financial planning and the all-important “Money Talks”.  We know from research and our personal experiences that money is often a taboo topic, not one easily discussed among family members or loved ones. I have learned that there are many reasons why families find it difficult to talk about their finances, whether it is issues of control, trust or other factors which percolate either at the surface or are buried deeply in our psychological makeup, often tied to historical family behavior patterns or culture.

Regardless of the reasons, talking about money as your work through the seasons of your life is quite important if you are going to successfully transition money across generations or triumph over the other transitions you may be facing.  When spring arrives, we often think about renewal, rebirth, and a new beginning. At the same time, unfortunately, we are faced with the realities of paying taxes and tackling some of the other financial decisions that need to be made. Many clients after payment or planning for paying taxes on or around April 15, will turn to the other financial challenges they need to face:  examining better ways to manage tax liabilities, either through changing withholdings, setting up quarterly payments, etc. In addition, clients can also turn to how best to manage their aging parents, whether it is at home or in a facility, when to take social security if they are looking ahead to retirement, when should I begin to take my IRA distributions, what is the best choice of life or medical insurance plans, and what changes should I make to our estate plan. In the context of the recent pandemic, many of these decisions and the need for addressing them becomes heightened. As a result of the disruption to our lives, our health and our personal “economies”, many of us are unsettled and may realize that our we  are more vulnerable to events we cannot control. As a result, plans that we may have deferred or procrastinated now take on more immediacy and the need for attention.

In addition, with a new administration, there may be new legislation that impacts finances, which is a big reason to now reassess your plans in the context of new laws and changes to existing ones.

All of these decisions and changes to your financial plans under spring time consideration will also have to include money conversations with your loved ones as your work with your financial advisor in coordination with the other advisors to execute the new plans. My previous blogs can help you successfully orchestrate and integrate these money talks as you work through all the various issues.

Stay tuned, because as summer approaches, we will have more to say about the seasonal planning you might want to consider.

About Lori Sackler

Lori has designed her team practice to help clients keep up with the pace of change in their lives, have time to reflect and satisfy security, lifestyle and legacy concerns. With her team and the professionals at Morgan Stanley, she acts as a personal chief financial officer for her clients. The Sackler Group chooses to work with a limited number of clients for whom they can have a meaningful impact.

Lori has the distinction of holding three designations: CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM, CERTIFIED INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT ANALYST®, and FAMILY WEALTH DIRECTOR. An established thought leader, Lori has published numerous articles and books, including “The M Word: The Money Talk Every Family Needs to Have” and “The M Word Journal: How to Have the Money Talk.” She also created and hosted a popular radio program in New York City.

Lori earned her BA with Distinction from the University of Michigan and holds an MS in Marketing and Finance from the University of Texas. She is also an accredited (non-practicing) CPA and is a member of the NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants. Morgan Stanley honored Lori with appointments to the exclusive Regional and National Financial Advisor Councils, and named her an Alternative Investments Director. In 2020 and 2017, Forbes Magazine named Lori one of the Top 200 Women Financial Advisors in the U.S. in 2017, 2018 and 2020, and chose her as one of the Best-in-State Wealth Advisors in the U.S. in 2018.*

* The criteria for these awards do not include factors relating to investment performance. Neither Morgan Stanley Smith Barney nor its Financial Advisors pay a fee in exchange for the rating.