About 6 months ago my Father hesitantly asked me a favor. He’d scheduled an appointment with his friends and long-time financial advisors from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney: Richard L. Schneider and Ira Bauman. Dad is living with ALS (aka Lou Gherig’s disease), and is in a wheelchair. Requests like this have become the norm around our house. If I can’t help Mom and Dad, my brother steps in.
If my brother can’t help a loving family member, friend or neighbor usually steps up to help. We have a network of people who love my parents so dearly, that finding someone to help get him around usually isn’t an issue. I made sure I was at this meeting, because as I’m sure you know - ALS is terminal.
Getting my Father’s finances in order is certainly not the first thing you may think of when you’re hit with a diagnosis like ALS, but it’s certainly an ugly reality our family must deal with. Who will manage the money? What are our options? How involved with my brother and I be throughout the process? All legitimate questions that must be addressed. All are also the most gut wrenching chill inducing, tear jerking topics anyone can have. And so it went.
One afternoon a few months ago, we set out on our journey. I escorted my parents from their leafy suburb of Carmel, NY to the cavernous avenues of New York City to sit with their financial planners. On paper this sounds like a scene from Wall Street. Gordon Gecko sitting at his desk, hair perfectly quaffed, puffing on a cigarette, on the phone making a deal, all while taking his own blood pressure. I get it. Even though I’ve known both Rich and Ira for years, I too expected to get cold insight and feedback, but what happened next is why I will always work with Ira and Rich, and why my parents have been with them for years. It’s also proof that no matter what your product, or service, you have appropriate content for social media. I promise.
Rich and Ira hadn’t seen my Father since he’d been in the wheelchair, and you could see the surprise on their faces. Mom was tentative about the meeting and you could feel it in the air. I won’t get into the details and ensuing emotion that followed the meeting – I’m sure you can image that this was the last place my mother thought she would be just a few short months after her retirement, but I assure you this – Ira and Rich were nothing short of spectacular. They slowly walked my mother through her options. They gently allowed for her to inquire. They softly responded to her and took their time. They … took …their …time.
Suffice to say, I was, and remain impressed, flabbergasted really. I’m not telling this story for your pity. We’re a strong unit. We’re dealing with the daily challenges that face my Father, and we’re following my parent’s lead, by handling each milestone with grace and dignity. I’m recounting this story to make one point:
Now, I’m not so naïve that I believe that Ira Bauman and Rich Schneider who are financial advisors at one of the largest financial institutes in America can freely engage in social media the way I can. Ira has a Twitter account and so does Rich - each of which are highly regulated. I fully understand that they’re bound by financial regulatory guidelines (as well they should be). Their opinions mean something, and can sway markets! But image how powerful it would be if they were able to blog about their interaction with my parents.
Imagine if Rich were able to recount the numerous times he gets choked up when we speak on the phone and he inquires about my parents. Imagine if Rich and Ira could answer questions on Quora about the details of handling estates. Imagine the good they could do via Twitter, by reaching a broader high net worth audience who are sick and tired of the same garbage they hear on a day to day basis and are looking for financial planners with character and integrity like this? Imagine if I were able to write a recommendation on their Linkedin profiles detailing this interaction?
The sad fact is I can't because of regulatory issues. But I guarantee that there are many MANY people out there who would benefit from this type of social media interaction. It's stories like this that are proof of character. Proof of integrity, and proof that these gentlemen are the real deal. It's also proof that there is fodder for social media in every single business, no matter how "stiff" or dull it may seem. This is why people trust them with their money. This is why they do business with them. This is why I will always invest my money with Rich Schneider and Ira Bauman.
So there you have it. No matter what your business or service, I dare you to tell me that you don’t have appropriate content for social media. These guys manage the finances of high net worth individuals and they could spend a year blogging about one afternoons encounter. I dare you to tell me that your cupcake store has nothing to share on your Facebook status.
Social media has to do with humanity.
So if you’re a human being – there is fodder for social ...period.