Diversity, Aging, and Unexpected Waypoints

Photo by Edu Carvalho on Pexels.com

April 20, 2021

I was asked to create a presentation for the Plan4Life Elder Planning Specialist Program, a 10-week course of study designed to equip and encourage financial planners to effectively engage elderly clients and their most trusted family members and friends during the financial planning process.  I agreed to create a presentation on Diversity and Aging.  Then it “hit me”:  this was a waypoint for me as a business owner, educator, planner, and a financial planning client.

What is a waypoint?  A waypoint is a point of interest or an intermediate stop along a journey.  Financial planning waypoints are the topics of my articles on my website, PeaceOfMindWaypoint.com.  They are not “final destinations” but rather specific goals and objectives that we reach for as we build financial, cultural, and spiritual legacies for our descendants, our oikos, and everything and everyone that our very existence affects.  Sometimes amid inevitable financial planning “course corrections” we find ourselves at an unexpected waypoint.  These unexpected waypoints manifest themselves in many ways.  They may present earlier or later than planned during a financial life planning journey.  The waypoints may be personal or professional.  To face the challenge of navigating to and past various waypoints, an individual may be the educator or the student…the planner or the client…or any combination of these four roles.  I am certain that creating the Diversity and Aging presentation for the Plan4Life Elder Specialist Program was an unexpected waypoint for me and I challenged myself as an educator, student, planner, and client. 

Similar to how I approach one of my website articles or the planning process for one of my clients, I started with a holistic view of the subject.  Who needs the service?  What is the challenge?  Answer:  Population aging in an increasingly culturally diverse world.  With a stated definition for human capital, I began to build a set of objectives for my peers to attain to prepare to engage in financial planning for elderly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations.  The foundation for being successful not only begins with a self-assessment of what knowledge and wisdom a planner must gain or skills that should be honed, but also a critical examination of what political, economic, and cultural environments might determine solutions offered and accepted by a client for action. 

Upon completion of my research and presentation I was reminded that:

  1. All financial planning waypoints have a history that must be acknowledged.
  2. A client’s life is beautifully layered with diverse triumphs, failures, and challenges that will influence timing, efficacy, and priority of life goals and objectives.
  3. Comprehensive financial planners are positioned to help elderly clients and caretakers in historically economically marginalized diverse populations experience the richness of abstract, multi-cultural capital during the client’s most vulnerable mental, physical, and emotional years.

No experience, good or bad, is wasted on the perpetual student.  In my February 2019 article, “Diversity in Financial Planning Starts with History,” I encouraged financial planning professionals to practice cultural competence until it became an effortless way of living life and doing business and to become intentional students of history.  Over two years later, the message remains the same for me and for them.  I am excited by the prospect of a cohort of professionals committed to gaining an understanding of BIPOC cultural capital and some of the root causes of systemic economic and wealth-building racism and bias in our U.S economic system. 

I am encouraged by the Diversity and Aging module of the Elder Planning Specialist Course because of what I can share with my peers and because the process of creating the module revealed an unexpected financial planning waypoint for me: an imperfect, God fearing, African American, female, sometimes having to learn the hard way, economically poor-culturally rich childhood having, USNA alumni, former naval flight officer, financial planning, stay at home mom, homeschooling, community volunteering, school board challenging, taekwondo competing, educator, business owner, multi-cultural family having, middle aged person.  We all have multiple roles and are culturally and beautifully diverse in so many ways.  My financial life planning journey continues and evolves, just as my clients’ journeys evolve.  My clients, peers, and I are purposefully embarking on a course to reach goals in line with our priorities, with the understanding that any course must be monitored, reviewed, and adjusted as necessary…one financial (educational, personal, professional…) waypoint at a time,…even the unexpected ones.