Investing Philosophy

Life Never Stops Changing

Neither do your giving and financial decisions

Key Takeaways

  • The most impactful gifts are often the result of personal tragedy or triumph.

  • We spend so much of our lives in the wealth accumulation phase that it’s easy to forget the positive impact that our money can have on others.

  • An astute advisor not only helps you optimize your investments, cash flow and wealth protection, but your legacy as well.

Meetings with your financial advisors bring to mind thoughts of balance sheets, net worth statements, stock options, investments, insurance policies and employee benefits. While these documents tell your various advisors what you have, they don’t tell them who you are, what you want or what truly motivates you.

I’ve learned over the years that after gaining a client’s trust, and after carefully opening the door to their personal side, we find out what truly makes them tick and what shapes the lens from which they see the world.

Often we come across tremendous stories of tragedy and triumph (or both). These are pivotal moments in an individual’s background – typically turning into a focus for future action. And sometimes that action is philanthropic – one that highlights the triumph or attempts to solve the problem that caused the tragedy.

For instance, a daughter’s death at the hands of a drunk driver left a family with such a need for a voice that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) was brought into existence. Today, M.A.D.D. is the largest advocacy group in the country focused on preventing individuals from driving while intoxicated – its existence motivated by a heartbreaking loss.

Everyone deals and reacts to adversity in their own way – we must understand and accept that.

While tragedy is one side of the equation, there are also triumphs to celebrate – easier to discuss and just as big a motivation. Many years ago I worked with an extremely wealthy individual who kept telling me that he wasn’t charitable and that he didn’t really care about much of anything. He went on at length about how he was “self-made” and had come from nothing.

It wasn’t until when he revealed that he’d been raised in an orphanage that I realized how critical the orphanage had been to his upbringing and success. Today, that orphanage is endowed by a large gift by my client. It not only represents his personal victory, but an acknowledgment to the people who helped him triumph over his circumstances.

For some, it may be a coach, teacher or program that launches a successful athletic or academic career. It may be the person who helped you discover that you were good at math or the person who took the time to elicit your musical genius when no one else could see it. By doing so, we may discover a desire to make a gift, to return the favor, to pay it forward.

Life Never Stops Changing

Change is an inevitable part of life. We start new jobs, we send kids off to college, we lose a parent or gain a grandchild. Change can be daunting – but viewed through a different lens, it presents opportunity to raise the important questions about philanthropy.

In many circumstances, philanthropy can be the best solution to the change that’s taking place – if only we think to ask our advisors how.

Let’s look at some major life changes and see where you and your advisor might discuss gift opportunities at the appropriate time.

Suppose you are approaching retirement. Let’s assume you are the major breadwinner of your household and you are also hoping to downsize. As ordinary income (your paycheck) ceases, the desire to convert dormant or low yielding assets into supplemental income normally increases. This may be an opportunity to reposition low-basis assets into a pooled income fund (PIF), a charitable remainder trust (CRT) or even a gift annuity. Furthermore, the downsizing might free up additional capital with which to consider similar split interest gifts.

The birth of a grandchild may inspire a fund for college education. You can go the traditional 529 route or consider certain types of CRTs that turn into income in 18 years.

Widowhood is another significant life change that triggers emotional and financial upheaval, and often changes to family dynamics. If your late spouse was the main financial decision maker in your relationship, you may feel lost and frightened about the future. Perhaps the best solution is simplification and consolidation – taking multiple accounts and creating one large gift annuity, charitable trust or pooled income fund that delivers quarterly income. You should also examine gifts such as life estate agreements – which relieve the children of dealing with a house they usually don’t want anyway.

A serious illness is another major life change that brings a host of emotional and financial worries. But as you and your family delve into researching your loved one’s illness and treatment options, it can also motivate giving to support further research into curing or ameliorating that illness or disease.

Change is everywhere and change is constant. While some changes go unnoticed, others represent a prime turning point in our lives. We spend so much of our lives in the wealth accumulation phase that we sometimes forget the power our wealth can have to make lives better for others.


Just as an astute advisor can help you optimize your investments, cash flow and wealth protection strategies, he or she can also help you optimize the power of your giving.

All you have to do is email us or give us a call.

Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail


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