Two Personal Life Events Exemplify the Importance of Your Work as Advisors

Loss of a pet can be as devastating to your client as the loss of a loved one

By Valentino Sabuco, CFP®, AEP®

Key Takeaways:

  • Life is so very fragile; hug your family, friends, business associates and clients while you can.
  • Significant advancements in healthcare are helping us live longer, creating even more financial challenges globally.
  • As an elite advisor, you can help make a BIG difference.

Over the past month, I’ve experienced two personal life-changing events that exemplify the importance of our work as elite financial advisors. They also show the importance of improving financial awareness and financial literacy nationwide.

On the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, I went in for my annual physical exam. My doctor suggested I take a routine stress EKG the following Tuesday. But when my doctor read the results of the exam, he immediately checked me into the emergency room for further tests. Not a good sign, plus my beloved dog Trixie was waiting for me in my car for what I thought would be a simple 10-minute test. I also had a packed work schedule the next day, to be followed by a fundraising golf outing for our organization. Fortunately, my wife and daughters were able to come get Trixie and my car and I was able to reschedule the capital campaign development efforts for our foundation.

Before I knew it, I was in an ambulance making the 50-mile trip from Santa Rosa to San Francisco, where I would enter Kaiser Permanente’s distinguished cardiac care center. Shortly after arriving at Kaiser, I was prepped for surgical tests that would show either a false alarm or the need for a plugged artery stent or immediate bypass surgery. How about those options?

Two hours later, while under a local numbing agent, I had a tube inserted into my right wrist (like giving blood). Doctors immediately found a major clogged artery that we could all see on a big monitor. They quickly repaired it with a stent, and then checked my other major arteries. Fortunately the other arteries were normal, and so doctors sent me home the next morning with a 15-year “warranty.” Six days later I played golf again and shot a 69 with six birdies! Not bad for a senior who just had heart surgery—truly a medical miracle!

While at Kaiser, I experienced firsthand some unbelievable medical technology that now enables doctors to detect and fix potential major heart problems virtually, and to do so on an outpatient basis (very cost- effective).

Medical advances like these will substantially increase life expectancy. However, greater longevity opens up a host of new financial challenges, as we must now support ourselves and our families for living many more years. That’s why it’s so important for elite financial advisors to join the movement to increase the financial literacy of all Americans.

Loss of a beloved pet

My second life-changing experience doesn’t have such a happy ending. A month after my surgery, our foundation’s beloved mascot and my best friend, Trixie, passed away in my arms with a late stage of doggie cancer. Ouch!

I know the emotional impact of losing a longtime pet can be just as devastating as the loss of a family member or close friend.

Over the past 45 years, I’ve done a significant amount of estate planning and administration as both a financial advisor and a fiduciary. I have dealt with death’s complexities many times before with my clients, associates, friends and family. But, wow, this one sure hurt hard. I seem to see Trixie everywhere, and I know she’s nearby providing us all with her love, input, creativity and wisdom. Thank goodness her estate plan was in order.


Please give your loved ones a big hug and savor the moments and experiences, because life is so very fragile. And make sure you have your clients’ and your own estate and financial plans in order; you never know when you’re going to get sick or pass away.

About the Author

Valentino Sabuco, CFP®, AEP®, is the executive director and publisher of The Financial Awareness Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Sonoma County California. Valentino has pioneered the financial planning profession for over 40 years. TFAF serves as a nonpolitical and neutral “financial awareness advocate” for the public, the professionals and their associations, educational institutions, and nonprofits. Our mission is to significantly help solve a major social problem by dealing with the lack of financial awareness and financial literacy. We believe teaching financial literacy is very important as it gives people the essential tools to address everyday financial decisions in a more informed manner. Valentino can be reached at V.Sabuco@TheFinancialAwarenessFoundation.org or (707) 586-8620.