Thursday, April 12, 2018

What We Know

How often have we heard, “It’s not what you know but who you know”?  In all honesty, the proper proclamation should be “It’s what you know and who you know”.  Our expertise and experience are just as valuable as those of “who you know”. 

The Parkland CAFA (Canadian Association of Farm Advisors) Chapter gathers monthly for their regular learning event.  It is a meeting of the minds to learn something we might know very little about.  The presenter on a given topic is the expert. We tap into their resources and access their authoritative wisdom and knowledge. At any given meeting, the two professionals or agri-business experts know something the rest don’t. Their willingness to share is an opportunity for us to learn.  When applicable, we even refer clients to the appropriate professional who can better help them.

I believe everyone understands you can’t know everything.  Having an expert in your network circle is a valuable “fill-in” for the information and experience you lack.  A fitting expression, “Mind the Gap”, heard when you travel the rail system in London, can also be applied to our knowledge gap.   A person can only know so much, has only so much brain capacity, and has only interest in a specific area of expertise.  There may be some logic to the statement “a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none!”  When we try to be everything, we have to ask ourselves, “Is this fitting for what I am trying to accomplish for my clients?” As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®  professional, I know my limitations and rely extensively on other professionals.  I appreciate having them in my network; they’re my links to information and experience.    

This past month’s learning event highlighted two hot topics:  Trusts and the Need for Them, both from a tax and legal perspective; and TOSI (Tax-on-Split-Income), the new rules and the exceptions-to-the-rules.  Our professionals, Jason Heinmiller, a tax expert, with Collins Barrow and Shawn Patenaude, a lawyer, from his legal firm, Shawn Patenaude Legal Prof. Corp, are privy to the latest updated information.  Procedures and processes are constantly changing. This is especially true when there’s a change in government.  In 2017 the federal government implemented new rules regarding the way income is distributed to shareholders of private corporations. The experts, Jason Heinmiller and Shawn Patenaude, addressed the impact this new legislation has on tax vehicles such as trusts and corporations.

Our professionals discuss new legislation with their peers. They dissect and analyze the logistics of the information to fully understand the new proposals: how they apply, when they apply; what exceptions exist; and who they affect. They exchange thoughts, ideas, and ask each other, “If we can’t do this, can we do that?”

The best professionals work together in tandem with other professionals to decide on the ideal strategies for their mutual clients.  The collaboration is important especially with multiple generational and blended families. Family business situations are both complex and complicated. Because peoples’ intentions are different, a strategy which might work well for one family operation doesn’t mean it fits another.         

When we try to work in isolation and try to do it all, we do our clients a disservice.  When professionals work together as a smart team, their clients benefit from the best quality advice and service.  When the clients receive a wealth of information from all the angles, they are able to make the right decisions. I’ve said before, “Good information leads to good decisions.”  Good decisions avoid financial and costly errors.  Some strategies cannot be undone and are permanent arrangements with dire consequences.  

This is an example of a costly consequence.

A father included his son as a joint owner on a piece of real estate.  Their relationship became estranged.  When the father requested that his son relinquish his ownership to the property, the son refused.  The courts decided if the father wanted the son’s name off the title, the father was obligated to buy his son’s half-share interest at the current fair market value.  We don’t know if the father sought legal advice when he was deciding to make the real estate joint with his son.  However, if he had, all the possible outcomes would have been discussed. 

Advisors help farmers make informed decisions around management, finance, marketing, tax, or legal issues.  If necessary, they network with other CAFA members. This networking creates links to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. When a basketball or football team executes play after play, they work together to accomplish a goal. That goal is to secure a win.  Win after win create champions.  We are all champions when we work together as a team.  John Wooden said, “A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player.”  

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