LTCI Insider: Dinner from a New Perspective

Financial Planners


An FPA event organizer gave a columnist a new perspective on financial services.

I am standing on the terrace outside the dining room of a hotel near Naples, Florida.

Other than being blindfolded, there are no particular abnormalities.

The kickoff dinner for the Financial Planning Institute’s FPA Retreat was “Dining in the Dark” on the schedule. I visualized a small ballroom with candles on the table and very low lighting.

I was wrong.

We were divided into groups of 10 people, blindfolded and asked to grab the right shoulder of the person in front of us.

Grabbing Andrew Sivertsen of The Planning Center in Moline, Iowa, by the shoulder, I was ushered into the dining area and waited to be shown to my seat.

Grabbing me is Alexandra Armstrong from Sarasota, FL.

Dinner starts with a salad. Try eating your salad out of sight.

Then the main course is served. (Mashed potatoes are easy to eat. Prime rib is not.)

Thoughts of the organizer

This totally unusual experience and other events held during the conference helped attendees “see” things in a different way. The idea of ​​the retreat organizers was to challenge our way of thinking, provide a learning experience and meet others to help them gain ideas and strategies to grow their business.

The blindfolded experience definitely set the tone. Dinner speaker Mark Balenziano suddenly went blind at the age of 15.

He related his situation to a financial planner’s goal of trying to help clients prepare for the unexpected.

The dinner experience definitely made a connection.

Andrew and I worked out how to eat the salad together and even searched for bread. (Andrew turned out he was Vice Chair of the FPA Retreat Task Force, so he knew this blindfolded experience was coming.)

FPA Retreat

FPA held a four-day event earlier this month.

According to Ben Lewis, FPA’s chief communications officer, the conference featured three keynotes and 24 breakout sessions, attracting 238 attendees.

A session presented by Mark Paulson of Allianz Investment Management and Tim Rembowski of DPL Financial Partners focused on the use of annuities to enhance retirement portfolios.

Speakers talked about how clients can use annuities to increase returns while maintaining the same level of risk in retirement. They noted that the client’s retirement age is trending down to her 62.

Julie Fortin of NorthStar Financial Services and Marlis Jansen of Graddha presented on the lessons of neuroscience for financial advisors. One of their suggestions for advisors, based on neuroscience research, is to spend about 75% of your time listening and 25% of your time speaking.

Annalee Kruger, President of Care Right, held a workshop to help clients develop an aging plan. Her presentation included tips to help clients identify signs that they may have dementia or are having trouble living at home.

She provided interesting statistics about caregivers and how providing care affects assets under management.

  • 63% fund the needs of their aging parents.
  • 42% are reducing their contributions to their savings/retirement plans.

In other words, caregivers who help support loved ones probably aren’t funding their own retirement accounts sufficiently because they’re having trouble with their aging plans.


Margie Barrie, an agent at ACSIA Partners, has written the LTCI Insider column since 2000. She is the author of two of her books and a frequent conference speaker.

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FPA retreat attendees watch a presentation on marketing to baby boomers. (Photo: Margie Barry)



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