Morgan Stanley
  • Women Financial Advisor Forum
  • Dec 17, 2021

The M Word: The Money Talk and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons -- Winter

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

As the fall foliage fades and the weather turns colder, change once again is in the air.  The waking mornings are dark and the heat starting to blast, as we transition to warmer clothing, spending time indoors and becoming more inward directed, all hints of an emerging winter.

 And, it’s once more a time to reflect on  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and its relationship to our evolving finances.

As you know, Vivaldi perfectly captures the seasons in his highly acclaimed work “The Four Seasons”, four violin concertos in which each season gets its own violin concerto. 

Composed in Venice, Italy, at the height of the Baroque era in 1720, this body of work was striking for the time: modern, virtuosic and energetic, reflecting Vivaldi’s vision to use music to paint a scene, tell a story and, in this composition,  evoke different seasonal moods.  Many regard this series of compositions as one of the greatest works in classical music and a timeless work of art.

The texture of each separate movement is varied, each resembling its respective season. “Winter” is peppered with silvery pizzicato notes from the high strings, calling to mind icy rain, whereas “Summer” , the subject of  previous blog, evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement, which is why the movement is often called “Storm” 

Digging deeper into winter, the subject of this blog, the first movement reflects Vivaldi’s brilliant representation of winter: the biting cold, gusting wind, trembling bodies, and chattering teeth on his beloved violin.

The sounds are all a reminder of what lies ahead.

And, although, we are not yet experiencing the seasonal snow plowing, we are already beginning to adjust our lifestyles to the restrictions that winter places on us.

At the same time, after almost two years of COVID challenges, and despite the latest concerns about the Omicron variant, we are also seeing comforting signs of relief ahead.  Vaccinations and boosters are rising, people are once again travelling and meeting with family and friends and year-end holiday celebrations are fast approaching.

We are all probably eager to look ahead to a year in which our lives, although probably forever changed, may return to a greater sense of normalcy without the fears and anxieties that have plagued many of us since March of 2020. As we have discussed in earlier blogs, we may have over the summer and fall months reassessed our values and our commitments to family members and the changes we might want to make to our financial and estate plans.

As part of my “M Word: The Money Talk” discussions, I often write about the major transitions that we face in life which we are forced to navigate: changes in financial circumstances, retirement, caring for aging love one, marriage and merging families and planning for our legacies. Moving beyond COVID-19 is itself separate transition which can affect all of these life events.

Now that 2022 is just around the corner, maybe it’s time to fully execute on those new strategies you have been mulling over the past several months. New tax legislation may be upon us with higher taxes and limits on gifting.  You may want to commit to that contemplated gift to your grandchildren, either with a 529 plan for education or a special trust to fund a new home or business in advance of any changes. You may have a new vision for your investments, creating an investment strategy, which aligns more with your values around climate change, diversity or religious beliefs,  or you may want to consider as part of your  estate plan a donor advised fund tied to your new favorite charities.  And, with the potential to changes both in the income and estate tax rules, you might want to reconnect with your accountant and attorney to review the possible impact on your financial picture.

Moreover, of course, given my mantra about money talks, as you go through this exercise, it is important to engage in conversations with your advisors and ultimately your loved ones regarding your new financial decisions.

Breakdown in communication and trust is the primary reason why estate transfers fail at such an alarming rate. According to Vie Preisser in Preparing Heirs the rate of failure is 70%1.  I argue that for all life transitions, money talks that foster communication and trust are necessary to avoid family conflicts and keep your family and finances on track and intact.

As you enter the final weeks of 2021, I urge you to take a moment and reflect on your personal landscape as Vivaldi did with the seasonal changes through his music. It is an opportunity to try new things, implement new strategies, engage in productive family communication and work with your advisors and your family members to achieve all that is important to you. Carpe diem (seize the day) and a Happy and Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all!