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  • Richard Nicholson


Updated: Aug 7, 2020

“Creating A Legacy – Are you going to make a DIFFERENCE or just a TEE TIME in your retirement?”

The work is done. Your share price is shooting the lights out. Revenues are pumping along on autopilot, like some financial Duracell bunny. You’ve finally stacked the board of directors with enough succession talent to enshrine your pioneering work for generations to come.

You step back and apply the final brush strokes to your corporate masterpiece by announcing the appointment of Bright Young Thing, MBA as your successor. The golf course beckons, as does that year-long world cruise.

You’ve scored a perfect 10 on the happiness indexThink again.

Our work with financial advisors and their clients on 5 continents over the past 15 years repeatedly uncovers a disturbing and predictable trend – traditional retirement fosters decay and depression.

Life insurance companies point to the trend of people passing away within 8 years of their retirement as evidence of something being amiss in the golden years of most policyholders.

The problem is simple. Human beings are teleological (target-seeking) mechanisms. Self worth and identity are not crafted from one’s past experience but rather through those future goals and constructive aspirations which bring clarity and focus to our daily lives.

Commitment creates identity, not just existence.

In his seminal work on concentration-camp human psychology, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, Viktor Frankl, describes the marked difference in both mental states and physical longevity amongst concentration camp prisoners during the Second world war. Those who regularly verbalized hopes, dreams and positive scenarios were physically hardier and displayed lower levels of depression and hopeless abandon then those fellow prisoners who “could not see a tomorrow”.

One of the mistakes that social science makes is to discount the impact that these future constructs have on present health, sense of connectedness and general well-being.

Frankl became the father of” logo-therapy” which has become an important part of psychotherapy. “Logo” is derived from the Latin for “location”.

Therapy is commonly accepted as “healing”. Define a positive direction for the patient and positive thought, emotion and action are natural by-products of the renewed commitment.

So back to your situation. One of the privileges of being an honorary member of the well-healed set is the ability to leverage your immense intellectual talents, powerful personal networks and financial freedom in order to make a sustainable difference to the lives of others less fortunate. Put more succinctly, the very best way to help the poor is to make sure you are not one of them (chances are you have that covered if you are reading this publication) – and then to use your time and contacts to give back massively using clever financial structuring.

Making the transition from go-getter to go-giver has the added benefit of extending your own lifespan and giving you a more compelling reason for rising each morning beyond your asset-building years for reasons beyond the pursuit of a dropping a little white ball in a faraway hole with fewer strokes than your equally well-healed friends.

Canada has a rich tradition of supporting the underdog in a social quest to create a fair balance between the “have’s” and the “have not’s”. As a member of the financially privileged few, I believe that we have a moral duty to create economic leverage in this great country by deploying our time and talents in pursuit of social justice and community upliftment. Whilst each of us gets to choose our favourite niche to give back to, the common questions we should be addressing as we set off on this journey to “pay it forward” are:

  1. Based on family history, how many years do you think you have left? After all, you can’t DO GOOD unless you STAY GOOD in protecting yourself from the ravages of poor health, mental stagnation or premature death.

2. What work has been done financially to insure those years? That way, if you run

out of contributing years before you have fulfilled your vision; your work will not

perish together with your physical presence.

3. What lessons have you learned from the retirement of others? Consider emulating

the actions of role models and mentors who shaped your own character and

subsequent success in life. Where and how might you duplicate or magnify their

effort in making a mark in the world?

4. Describe a typical day in your retirement? Make a commitment to make a daily

difference rather than a massive difference -it bings clarity and substance to your

waking hours.

5. What charity or cause do you admire the most? How can your vast experience and

social network contribute in securing their work for generations to come?

6. What do you feel is the greatest good that can come from your own wealth? Which

educational campaign could be perpetuated through funding in your own

retirement or estate planning?

7. What legacy do you want to leave behind? More specifically, what do you want to

be remembered for having "gotten done" at a local level through your

volunteerism or financial influence?

8. What plans have you made to pass along your wisdom, not just your wealth?

Which community leadership group could benefit massively over a 30-60 month

period from just a few hours each month of your presence on their board or in

executive activities?

9. What treasured experieince would you buy for physically or mentally disadvantaged

citizens in your community with your first free $100,000 of excess retirement


10. What number do you have in mind to leave behind in your estate and what life do

you picture buying with that number? Have you consulted the appropriate qualified

specialists to secure that number through tax-efficient structures?

The scriptures said it all: “When the young men no longer dream dreams and the old men have lost their vision, the people perish.”

There are young successful entrepreneurs as well as readers in their advanced years perusing these words. The message is the same – who we are in the present is determined by the difference we hope to make in the future. Governments have a poor track record in redressing societal imbalance since time in memoriam.

Financially and influentially-leveraged leaders like you are the only ones with the time and fiscal muscle to step forward in creating local impact in extraordinary ways. I challenge you to stand up and be counted through your own commitment.

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