Preserving the past and protecting the future seem to become more important as individuals and families age, whether they are thinking about financial assets or philosophical beliefs. One Westchester County, N.Y., financial planner has been exploring how his high-net-worth clients can benefit from linking their pasts to the financial legacy they leave.

Dan Juechter, a CFP licensee who is the founder and president of Hunter Financial Advisors in Tarrytown, N.Y., would seem to have little in common with Rockland County, N.Y., entrepreneur and personal historian Tina Martin, the president of Martin Personal Histories. But after being introduced by a shared client about a year ago, the two learned that they, and their clients, have many things in common. Both help clients realize their goals and let them explore where they had come from, where they wanted to go and what legacy they wanted to leave their families.

Juechter provides fee-based financial planning for 84 clients, all of whom have at least $1 million in investable assets. He created his firm eight years ago when the business he was with before began to dissolve and he decided to be more in control of his own destiny. All of his previous clients came with him, and many have relied on his financial advice for two decades.

It was his client Valerie Sonnenthal who realized that Juechter might have a lot in common with Martin. "Dan is involved with helping people preserve their family wealth, but part of a family's wealth is stories, not just money," says Sonnenthal, a former resident of New York state who now lives on Martha's Vineyard. "He is very easy to talk to and not just about numbers. You begin dealing with certain issues when you reach a certain age, and I started talking to him about what Tina was doing for me and he seemed interested."

Sonnenthal introduced the two, and Juechter and Martin together had a "light bulb" moment.
Juechter prides himself on dealing with big-picture issues in the lives of wealthy individuals and families, not as a money manager, but as a planner and advisor. He explores the history of each family and helps them pass on their beliefs, as well as a knowledge of their past, to their children. "Many of my clients are interested in passing on their philosophical values and desires to their children so the next generation can understand what it took for them to accomplish what they did, spiritually and morally, as well as financially," Juechter says.

Martin adds, "Passing on the family history also facilitates communication between generations, which is an essential part of the way Dan and I both work with our clients. Knowing your history can speak to the financial aspect of your life, and vice versa, and the knowledge can provide an important foundation for the future."

The two do not work together on any type of formal basis (because they must protect their clients' privacy), but they refer clients to each other when they think it is appropriate. Both feel that clients exploring their past and their family's history help open up lines of communication among family members, and that makes it easier for the clients to talk about money matters with Juechter. "Our relationship is fairly new," Juechter says. "We may discover more ways we can each help our clients as this develops."

Martin has a background in literary research and art curating and has conducted extensive interviews throughout the world for best-selling biographies. In her current business, she explores family histories, compiling books, audio or video for her clients, primarily affluent individuals. Her services vary depending on the nature and scope of the story and the client's objectives. Her productions can involve anything from a limited number of interviews captured on audio that cost several thousand dollars to a year-long project that involves travel to distant family members and a complete video record of family roots, which requires a larger budget and might incorporate family photos or a bound book of a family's history. Her clients say her talent is in getting to the essence of a story, whether it is a short memoir of a special event or a lengthy family history.

"Tina puts this kind of story into wonderful context," says Juechter. "One of my clients, who I referred to Tina, said he felt like he was watching the History Channel when he saw the story of his family on video."

"Everyone has an interesting story to tell," Martin says. "It does not necessarily have to be something dramatic, although I have interviewed Holocaust survivors and others with harrowing stories. Couples sometimes tell their love story or family members tell stories they have never revealed to anyone before. Sometimes one person in a family wants to record their parent's or grandparent's histories before it is too late, but the other family members may not want to talk to me at first.

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