Financial Planning Guidance with Robin Woodell



Financial Planner, Robin Woodell, with Emerald Financial talks about the importance of financial planning, how it differs from legal planning and how important it is for professionals to work together on behalf of the client.


Greg McIntyre:             Hi, I’m Greg McIntyre with the Elder Law Report, and we’re here today with my colleague Brenton Begley, another Elder Law attorney. Say, Hey Brenton.

Brenton Begley:            Hi.

Greg McIntyre:             And we have a special guest today. We have Robin Woodell with Emerald Financial Group is here with us and she is a financial planner and she will tell you a little bit more about her certifications and what she’s qualified to do for you. But a lot of times I find that people aren’t really clear where the line is between working with an attorney and working with a financial planner and I’ve had people come sit down with me. “Hey, what should I do with these investments? Hey, what’s the best product? What’s the best insurance?” And I said, “I look at insurance products, some of them like long-term care insurance, like a legal planning tool because it allows you to have protection over assets and another source of funds to come in and pay for in home assisted living or nursing home care. But I am not a financial planner. That is not what I do for a living.” So anytime I have someone who needs help on my end in our uptown Charlotte office, I refer them to Emerald Financial Group and Robin Woodell to handle those types of questions. What we do is legal planning. What Robin does is financial planning and those are two separate things and I want to be clear on that and here to help clarify that and help us gain some clarity on that is Robin Woodell. Robin, thank you for being with us today.

Robin Woodell:             Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Greg McIntyre:             Absolutely. So can you tell us what the letters behind your name mean?

Robin Woodell:             I am a financial planner as you said, and I think it’s a good place to start because most people are often confused by all the different financial topics. So forget the fact that they get confused on the legal versus the financial. Even within the financial field, they get confused on who should they go to and the topics and the titles and what does that mean? So basic understanding of that is a financial planner is a, if they do it right, is a full comprehensive 30,000 foot view planner. So when you have a person who says that maybe they’re a broker, typically that means that they manage money and that’s their focus. And they might dabble in a couple of other things, but that’s their focus. You might have someone who claims to be more of an insurance person. So their specialty is insurance, but they might dabble a little bit in the investments.

So we kind of all overlap. But then you have a financial advisor and the financial advisor is really does some aspects of what we do. Yeah. So the financial advisor really helps to advise on anything financial, so they may be able to help you with some the protection on the insurance. They may be able to do some money management, but it’s really advisory. So it holds a higher level of fiduciary responsibility. So when you add in the title financial planner, our goal is to take everything from a 30,000 foot view and show you how it works and how everything flows together and fits together as a puzzle from the time you start saving and protecting your family all the way to and through retirement. And that’s a big difference because it’s not about product, it’s more about what your needs are and projections because then when the plan is done, we can then become the advisor to help fulfill those needs by providing whatever we need that’s available.

So that’s kind of a basic breakdown on the difference between a financial planner versus anything else. And what I’ve come to learn from being in this industry is there really aren’t as many of us that are comprehensive planners as there are people that do projections on retirement or do one specific thing. So don’t be confused. Always ask when you sit down with someone, what exactly is the scope of your business? How do you work with clients and what does that look like? And then you get a better feel for what that’s like. So now I start working with people like you guys. So I feel like my teammates and the team to be able to really help my clients involves financial planner or advisor, some type of state planning or Elder Law attorney and at least to CPA. Sometimes if there’s debt involved or college planning, we bring in another expert there.

But the reason is because we all know enough to be dangerous about the other fields. Right? To be able to advise at what we do. Like you guys do. So you talked about how you know enough to be able to get people to the right place. The same for me. I don’t do the legal drafting, I don’t set up those documents. I don’t have the degree and the designations for that. So I do everything that’s money related and then everything else I pass over to people like you guys so that my clients can get all the legal stuff set up to be able to take care of how we funded it.

Brenton Begley:            Robin, that’s a good point, that kind of teammate approach. Yeah. What we do is we help you protect the assets, but we don’t necessarily grow the assets and we don’t really tell you how they fit into the big picture, right? We can help you figure out how they fit into the plan to protect those assets, whatever you got. But sometimes you may not even know what you have.

I know many times I’ll sit down with a client and they’ll say, “I have this much money.” And I’ll say, “Okay, well what’s the character of that asset?” And I’m like, “Is that a 401k an IRA, an annuity? What is it?” And sometimes they just don’t know. They have no idea. Maybe they know it’s an IRA, but they don’t know whether it’s a traditional IRA a [inaudible 00:05:40] IRA. So how does a financial planner specifically fit into that mold in trying to help people figure out what they have and what it means to them?

Robin Woodell:             Right. Well, one of the things we did, as I mentioned, when you look at a 30,000 foot view, we do very detailed fact finding. So the first meeting we have with people, we talk about what have they done so far, what are their goals? We have a very specific financial planning process that we take them through to make sure that we understand their goals and we know where they are currently. So some of that involves education and some of that process when we go through an actual financial plan involves more detailed education. So by the time they’re done, they have a lot greater understanding of where they are then when they started, and oftentimes we have, when we do a plan for people, we have quarterly touch-base calls. That’s part of the what you pay to be able to get that and that means that we can work through and organize and priority what are the things we need to tackle.

So when you break it down for somebody, for a client, it’s a lot easier because when I see they see the whole picture they’re overwhelmed. So you break it down and you handle things one at a time, then it’s a little bit easier to process. And they start to understand because they’re hearing over and over from you every quarter. This is why we do this. This is why you have this. To your point, one of the things you said triggered a thought for me, which is, the reason people don’t always know what they have is because they’re taught and we’re trained to accumulate, accumulate, accumulate. But if you’re not planning now on how it’s going to affect you in distribution, then that really can put you in a rough place when it comes to how your taxed with social security, how your taxed with Medicare as it comes back out again.

So when we educate people, we teach them and we set them up within their plans and how we process things going forward to have a nice balance of all those, which means they now have an understanding of what they have and what it does and how it’s going to affect them in retirement. So I think that it’s great if you’ve been saving for years and that’s wonderful, but there comes a point where you want somebody else involved to help you deal with the end effect. Because like you said, they’re not always aware. They’re just saving, which is admirable.

Brenton Begley:            Right. That’s a big deal. That thought of, “Okay, I’ve accumulated this much money and that was my only goal,” not to have any other goal in sight. Greg, I know that there are a lot of times we see that as sometimes being an issue with our type of planning where we see a client who has done a great job of accumulating wealth, right? And then they come to us and they may need some type of planning because they have nothing in place and we need to figure out how to deal with that level of wealth that they have. And [crosstalk 00:08:32]-

Greg McIntyre:             My favorite is when people have accumulated lots of wealth. However, they have maybe written their own legal documents or tried to download and Frankenstein, mish-mash them together off the internet and I think that sometimes we as individuals, I’m guilty of this to go wrong and not understanding that the utilization of professionals that stay in their lane and just concentrate and are good at what they do are important. Because sometimes as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, as somebody who’s trying to save for college for the kids and everything else, and I think I can do all this stuff myself.

To be able to utilize professionals to do what they’re good at is extremely important because I look at it kind of like an upside down pyramid where there’s all this wealth up here but it’s teetering on the point of these legal documents and maybe even financial plans that have not been well thought out or have not been well drafted. And that can be problematic because you can get yourself into situations where heaven forbid, because of illness or injury, you’re incapacitated or incompetent and no one can manage any of your assets because you failed to put in place a valid general durable power of attorney and record it that would give your spouse the ability to operate that if that’s what you want or another trusted individual or advisor.

Then you’re literally dead in the water, so to speak as far as what you can do and then perhaps somebody is going after a guardianship for you. We do a lot of those, guardianship for people, but we’d rather plan ahead and put in place the basics first. Let’s start there and then let’s look if comp more complicated trust planning and those items are the right fit for you. Let’s do that in a comprehensive way. Let’s work with other professionals and I like to call it the dream team where you remember Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and they all went and how did that work out for-

Robin Woodell:             We’re showing our age now Greg.

Greg McIntyre:             Yeah, right. How did that work out for the rest of the world when all the best professionals got together and went and played everybody on the planet? I mean, they won every game by probably 30 to 50 plus points. Okay. And brought home the gold. Well, that’s what your professionals working together can do. Working whether-

Robin Woodell:             And it’s a little-

Greg McIntyre:             What’s that?

Robin Woodell:             It’s either you work a little now or you work a lot later. So if you’re not planning with a little bit and doing the basic things now, then it’s a whole lot more work for them later.

Greg McIntyre:             That team, that dream team can work for you such as insurance… Your financial planner, handling insurance investment, longterm care planning on a financial side, your attorney handling, making sure you have proper documents in place to control your assets, to control your healthcare, if something happens to you to make sure that’s protected, to make sure the kids go to college, to make sure spouses cared for, to make sure you can control your harder money and property for the rest of your life. And well beyond to make sure you don’t get in a situation where because of lack of planning you lose everything you’ve worked for your entire life in the last few years of your life because you failed to put in place protective legal documents or planning and or longterm care insurance.

Those are important. And that’s how working together as professionals, we help clients, right?

Robin Woodell:             Absolutely. Absolutely. [crosstalk 00:12:38].

Greg McIntyre:             It’s about us working together and the utilization of professionals. And my frustration when I sit down with these Uber smart wealthy folks who have just… And sometimes those are the worst offenders who have failed to plan.

Robin Woodell:             In reality, I find that business owners, a lot of the business owners I deal with are so creative and they’re so good at doing what they do, but they lack doing the planning because number one, they get really busy and they run like crazy. You guys know. Anytime you own your own business, you never turn off, you never turn on. And so they get to a point where they’re so busy that if they don’t take care of it and start doing some simple planning early on, they never make time for it later.

Greg McIntyre:             Their life, it just kinds of runs over them and they don’t have time. [crosstalk 00:13:23]

Robin Woodell:             Absolutely. And that’s a danger. And because everything they build can come crashing down. And so that’s where the team is so important.

Brenton Begley:            [crosstalk 00:13:29]. They’re self-sufficient people, and you forget when you’re that type of person that, “Hey, you need help from other people.” I know I’m bad about it too. Being an attorney, I’m just like, “Well, I’ll figure it out. I’ll just read something.” But in reality, I had to step back and seek help from someone like you, Robin, to get some advice. Because I don’t know how to grow my money the best. I didn’t study that in school. It’s really not just wealthy people who have this issue too. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions with people who may not have a certain amount of wealth, and don’t use professionals because they think, “Well, I’m not rich enough for that.”

Robin Woodell:             That’s a good point. Absolutely. We talk about that all the time. There are a lot of companies out there now in the financial realm that are limited and not by their fault on what they can handle and assets under management. And things like that. And there are some people, if you don’t have $250,000 of wealth or more in liquid assets, they don’t mess with you because they’re not compensated for it. So you can sort of understand why they don’t. But then I feel like they’re-

Greg McIntyre:             [crosstalk 00:14:37] I remember when that switched and under some new laws and rules after [Dodd 00:14:42] Frank, and the necessity for the financial planner to also be a fiduciary. I have the fiduciaries meet at least once a year with the client it became, for people who did a lot of [inaudible 00:00:14:54]… Some companies literally cut off everybody $250,000 and below.

Robin Woodell:             Yep. They did. Liability and what it takes and because of that law. And so I think one of the things that, to Brenton’s point that we have found very important, we have built a team of people with people of all ages because we want to be able to service anybody that wants our help. So we have the ability to start people from scratch. We have the ability to start with you, if you’re somewhere in the middle and we have the ability to work with the high net worth that really need the full fee-based financial planning. Not everybody that comes into us will want to do a financial plan. Maybe they’re not to that point yet. To Brenton’s point, maybe they’re just setting things up and they want help and they’re anxious to get there, but they don’t have it yet. So we help them build the building blocks and we put those in play and we tell them, “Listen, if we’re doing our job right, you’re going to need the plan, but we’re going to help you build the building blocks now to get to that point where we start talking about the more in depth things.”

Greg McIntyre:             So you shouldn’t feel like you’re left out. If you feel like you haven’t built your nest egg yet or you haven’t-

Robin Woodell:             Not at all.

Greg McIntyre:             … or you don’t have enough, you can help people use that money and those savings in that retirement more efficiently. You can help it last longer. I know that and I send [crosstalk 00:16:05] people to you to do that all the time, of all wealth and levels. At all levels of wealth. Same for legal planning. We were talking this morning… I was talking this morning at our morning meeting that we were really built off of bringing high level legal planning and services to average everyday Americans like myself. Okay and really not leaving anybody out. I don’t want anybody left out, but we do from any level of wealth and any level of need, there’s rarely anyone we can’t help from anywhere along that range up to very, very complicated high wealth estate planning. Yeah.

Robin Woodell:             As encouragement, if you want to be one of those high net worth people, that’s what you start planning for. You start planning with your basic documents, you start planning with your investments and you talk to someone. I mean, as you guys said, it’s not just wealthy that come to financial planners. They had to get there.

Greg McIntyre:             That should be the title of this episode, which is the Road to Wealth.

Robin Woodell:             There you go. There you go.

Greg McIntyre:             Assembling your dream team or something. Right?

Robin Woodell:             Absolutely.

Greg McIntyre:             Yeah. So, I wanted to go over something really quickly. I had something up here that I wanted to show. If you’ll give me a second and I will share it and not to put you on the spot Robin, but can you see our screen Robin?

Robin Woodell:             Yes, I can see it.

Greg McIntyre:             Good Okay, so I have your LinkedIn page up.

Robin Woodell:             Nice.

Greg McIntyre:             When I Google you, this comes up first. Okay. When I click the website this comes up for Robin Woodell and Emerald Financial and I know that you have some really great interest and just in reading your bio, that you’re a financial planner and entrepreneur. I don’t know if I put financial or entrepreneur first because I know you’re a great woman business owner.

You are a wife, a mother, a lover of travel, and most importantly a lover of Christ. So I wanted to show that because I have found that that is exactly who you are.

Robin Woodell:             Oh, thank you.

Greg McIntyre:             It’s a good description. I really enjoyed coming to the Carolina, We Rock, women rock festival, this year at the [Big Chill 00:18:55] in Charlotte. That was a lot of fun too. And I thank you for the invite. Absolutely. And I know that you’re involved in women’s issues and other causes and charitable causes in addition to being a financial planner. I also know that you went to the university of Memphis for vocal performance.

Robin Woodell:             I did. We were just talking about that earlier.

Greg McIntyre:             You were an opera singer, is that right?

Robin Woodell:             I was an opera singer, a professional opera singer for eight years. I traveled around the world.

Greg McIntyre:             That is really cool. That is awesome.

Robin Woodell:             Yeah, it definitely brings different perspective from someone coming from the arts field into this and it’s funny because I was always, even from a performance standpoint my directors and conductors always liked me because I was always very methodical and that’s not typical of an artist. So I had the creative side, but I was always very methodical on how I built a character and how I followed through with instructions. They loved it because I was always where I needed to be.

So it’s a little unusual, but I have found that my arts background has given me a more creative way in working with people. So because I didn’t come up in taking the business and the finance classes in college, I got all those licenses later on in life. So I added it on top of what I already, all my other experiences with creativity and arts and teaching. I have a little teaching degree as well, so it kind of funny. So all of those things have come into building this practice and I’m very big on education. I’m very big on doing outreach and education programs and seminars for people. And I think a lot of the of my history is what brought me to that. So I’m very passionate about being able to give back to people now in a more tangible way. Whereas before I was just entertaining.

Greg McIntyre:             I just came up with another title for this episode.

Robin Woodell:             Oh goodness.

Greg McIntyre:             If you want to make your money sing Robin Woodell.

Robin Woodell:             There you go.

Greg McIntyre:             So yeah. I know that you’re a dynamic individual. I appreciate you being on our show, the Elder Law Report today, and always enjoy working with talented professionals like yourself and Brenton thanks for being on the call today as well.

Robin Woodell:             [crosstalk 00:21:11]. Thanks guys.

Greg McIntyre:             Absolutely. Hey, have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon. Okay. Or weekend, weekend. Bye now.


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Greg McIntyre, founder of McIntyre Elder Law, is more than just an attorney. As a Navy Veteran, father to six kids, and a loving husband, he values family deeply. This drives his commitment to helping clients safeguard their futures and pass down legacies.

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