Never heard of heritage planning? You will, if advisor Cam Thornton has his way.
“Most people are concerned throughout their life with money,” says Thornton, 58, founder of Cameron Thornton Associates, an independent advisory firm in Burbank, Calif. “How much do they have now, how much will they have in retirement and how much will be left to their heirs? But what’s equally important is a person’s story. What is it that has made you who you are? That’s the missing link in most planning today.”
Thornton’s work starts with a heritage family statement, a document that serves ideally as a foundation for all other planning. Through guided discovery, he asks open-ended questions to help the client recall past experiences. Through the client’s stories, values emerge: Serve others. Give it all you’ve got. Keep strong family ties. Lead a purpose-filled life.
The conversations, six or so hours over two to three meetings, are recorded and a transcript made. The process itself is one of collaboration and involves the client’s other advisors. “The most important thing is the clients stating, in their own words, what they’d like to happen. It’s something you can use as a blueprint for investments or philanthropy. Advisors, just as importantly as heirs, want to understand exactly what a family wants,” says Thornton. “This does that.”