Editor's Note: This article is from "Speaking From Experience,” an occasional series from RBC Wealth Management—U.S. featuring advisors who discuss how a unique financial or personal situation they’ve experienced impacts how they advise clients.

On a beautiful October day in Vermont, out on a mountain bike ride much like any other, it took a mere instant for my life to change.  I flew over the handlebars and landed just the wrong way. When I came to, I knew I was paralyzed, and in the weeks after, the severity of my spinal cord injury had us asking whether I would walk or work again.

I knew early on, even before a bit of feeling started coming back to my limbs, that I wanted to return to my job as a financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management–U.S. I love what I do and many people rely on my ability to keep doing it, namely my family and my clients.

What I didn’t realize, however, is how my experience would give me a completely different perspective on how to help my clients plan for the unexpected and give me a renewed sense of purpose.

Financial advisors help clients plan. In this sense, I was fortunate to know some of the questions to ask as I began my rehabilitation and ultimately set about reshaping my life. But as I’ve helped those I see at physical therapy around my own hometown, and gotten more into advocacy, I’ve found that most people struggle to navigate the financial details and costs of a catastrophic injury. One very practical example: there is only a single Lokomat robotic gait training device in our area in Connecticut, and for many, insurance doesn’t cover its use.

My experience has shaped my view and my advice to clients on how to think about these things—first of all, by asking admittedly tough questions, and then determining what’s worth protecting from a financial planning perspective.

Staying Proactive

I’ve been a financial advisor for 30 years. You learn a lot about people in this kind of job. Personal things. Important things. Surprising things and sad things. You also learn a lot about general human behavior.

One of those behaviors is a tendency to put off the things we don’t want to think about. And in my business, that usually includes things like a will, buying long-term care, and insurance.

For most of us, money is a finite resource and we have to make decisions everyday about what we’ll spend it on today versus tomorrow. It’s easy to choose today, but I can tell you from my own experience that you are never promised tomorrow, at least not the tomorrow that you envision.

The best advice I can give is to be proactive about planning for the unexpected and think about products that can help mitigate the exorbitant costs of a catastrophic event —a disability plan, or life insurance for instance—while you can.

We all hope and pray for good health, but the longer time marches on, the pricier and more complicated these products tend to become. I was fortunate to have them in place before my accident; my options would’ve been completely different had I not. And, in retrospect, even I would do a few things differently.

Protecting Assets

For anyone who’s suffered a spinal cord injury or something else catastrophic, recovery isn’t just expensive. Indeed, it’s mentally, emotionally and physically taxing.

My motivation to recover came from my family. I want to continue to work so my injury isn’t a financial burden to my wife and three children, including my 18-year-old daughter who has Turner’s Syndrome. I also want to earn and invest enough money to ensure they are provided for when I am gone.

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