As life advances, one begins to realize the meaning of the observation that life is short.

Life doesn’t always proceed in an orderly fashion, but when it does certain milestones crystallize this reliable verity. The death of a grandparent, a first marriage, and the birth of children are all momentous life-changing events.

The loss of both parents is another event with great finality, but it is one that for most of us now occurs at a much later point in life. Put another way, many people don’t grow up as quickly as they used to. People today sometimes joke wryly about becoming an orphan in their sixties or seventies. Children frequently develop very close relationships with their grandparents.

About 15 years ago, I attended a session at a conference in which one of our future contributors, Roy Diliberto, discussed a conversation with a client. According to my memory, the client, a recently widowed grandmother, told Roy of the vacation she and her husband always dreamt of taking her children and grandchildren on but never did. The client didn’t think she had enough money. Roy persuaded her to take the family vacation and they’d work out the details later. She was looking for his “permission” and never regretted the advice.

This month we are honored to publish Roy’s latest book, Basic Truths for Financial Life Planners, which touches on many of the topics he has addressed in these pages over the years. The book features a foreword by one of Roy’s admirers, Nick Murray, a longtime friend of this magazine. When a writer as gifted as Nick appreciates your work, it is a significant statement. As an editor, I feel extremely fortunate to have contributors of their caliber.

All of which brings me to this month’s Big Picture column by Ross Levin entitled “Whose Risk Is It Anyway?”. Ross addresses some of the same issues that Roy did at that conference 15 years ago but from a different vantage point, the perspective of the 2008-2009 bear market.

The question Ross addresses is a touchy one for advisors. In the mindset of many in this profession, the worst sin advisors can commit is allowing their clients to run out of money. When increased life longevity collides with the volatility inherent in today’s high-tech financial markets, the fear accompanying acceptance of the responsibility for hundreds of individuals’ life savings is legitimate and understandable. But does the advisor’s subliminal fear of seeing assets under management dwindle color the actual advice itself?

It’s a question you all wrestle with on a daily basis, and one without easy answers. For more serious thinking on the issues contained in these dilemmas, I’d urge you to buy Roy’s book and read Ross’s column.

Evan Simonoff, Editor-in-Chief
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