How Do You Structure Wealth Planning to Pass on Values?
Written by: Christopher Zacher
Monroe Diefendorf understands the importance of strong financial planning. Having been born into Diefendorf Capital’s life insurance legacy, founded by his great-grandfather in 1875, Monroe (who goes by Roey) found a place for himself in the family business, working alongside his father. He sold his first life insurance policy before he was even out of high school and worked his way up to the position of CEO. While the company thrived under Roey’s leadership, he has come to realize over the last few decades that financial planning extends beyond simple asset allocation.
Roey, who holds degrees in Estate Planning, Insurance, and Psychology (alongside numerous certifications) says, “You’ve got to really understand what matters most. It’s more than money.” He adds, “Unless you wrap your values around valuables, you’ve got nothing.” In 2014, Diefendorf transitioned (under Roey’s direction) into 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory, a company focused on managing the “total” wealth of the families they work with. “The pitfalls of wealth are well-documented,” says Roey. “The family’s values are the saving grace. You can transfer wealth across generations, but how do you transfer values? This is where we step in.”
In addition to providing the financial wealth management services that Diefendorf was known for, 3 Dimensional Wealth focuses their attention on helping families to build personal and philanthropic legacies. Explaining the goals of his company, Roey says, “Total wealth management should be the overarching scope of one’s planning. By “total,” I’m referring to both tangible and intangible assets. When you start to understand that paradigm, now you can truly make an impact.”
The Importance of Family
Having grown up next door to his grandfather, who also worked as Diefendorf’s chief executive, Roey knows the value of a close-knit family. “He was my best friend,” Roey says. On the day he started work, Roey’s father told him, “If you do the right thing, you’ll never have to worry about money.” As a company that focuses on families instead of individuals, 3 Dimensional Wealth operates with Monroe Sr.’s advice in mind, aiming to help families “establish a healthy root system for their family trees.”
To achieve this, Roey holds annual forums in which families are invited to participate in activities helping them strengthen their value structures. Through an assessment of their own personal, financial, and social wealth, families work toward an understanding of how they can best extend that wealth to their relatives and others. Additionally, he encourages connectivity and communication among extended families, staying up-to-date with who is doing what. This facilitates a common awareness that helps families to ask questions of themselves concerning how they can perpetuate their legacy. “We’re doing values-based trusts,” Roey explains and asks the families he works with, “How do you structure wealth planning to pass on values?”
His own family couldn’t have been prouder of how he re-directed the company’s trajectory. When Roey started 3 Dimensional Wealth, his father said, “I’ve never been more excited than by what you’re doing today.”
Breeding Philanthropists of the Future
As part of his mission, Roey’s goal is to help raise a generation of philanthropists. By instilling the quality of gratitude and generosity in children from a young age, he believes that families can start to build a legacy that will live far beyond them. Encouraging acts of selflessness in young people, Roey believes, will help his families to avoid raising children with “deep pockets and short arms.” He says, “I want children and grandchildren to live out the principles of saving and thrift starting from the ages 7 to 14 and build in philanthropy and an outward focus from ages 14 to 21 … that stuff is twenty-second century planning. It’s not the next seven years and ‘How can I buy a bigger boat?”
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Monroe Diefendorf, Jr. is CEO of 3 Dimensional Wealth Advisory and is the 4th generation of his family in the business. As an industry leader, Roey has co-authored three books: Wealth: Enhancement & Preservation – 1995 and 21st Century Wealth – 2000 and 3 Dimensional Wealth: A Radically Sane Perspective On Wealth Management – 2005. In December 2013, Roey introduced, A Better Way: Using Purposeful Trusts to Preserve Values & Valuables in Perpetuity.
Here’s Why Bitcoin Won’t Replace Gold So Easily
What a week it was.
First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge the horrific mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history. On behalf of everyone at U.S. Global Investors, I extend my sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.
The memory of the shooting was still fresh in people’s minds during last Tuesday’s Hollywood premiere of Blade Runner 2049, which nixed the usual red carpet and other glitz in light of the tragedy. Before the film, producers shared poignant words, saying that in times such as these, the arts are crucial now more than ever.
I had the distinct privilege to attend the premiere. My good friend Frank Giustra, whose production company Thunderbird Entertainment owns a stake in the Blade Runner franchise, was kind enough to invite me along. Despite the somber mood—a pivotal scene in the film even takes place in an irradiated Las Vegas—I thought Blade Runner 2049 was spectacular. Even if you’re not a fan of the original 1982 film, it’s still worth experiencing in theaters. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s synth-heavy score is especially haunting.
CNET recently published an interesting piece examining the accuracy of future tech as depicted in the original Blade Runner, from androids to flying cars to off-world travel read the article here.
Still in the Early Innings of Cryptocurrencies
Speaking of the future, I spoke on the topic of the blockchain last week at the Subscriber Investment Summit in Vancouver. My presentation focused on the future of mining—not just of gold and precious metals but also cryptocurrencies.
Believe it or not, there are upwards of 2,100 digital currencies being traded in the world right now, with a combined market cap of nearly $150 billion, according to Coinranking.com.
Obviously not all of these cryptos will survive. We’re still in the early innings. Last month I compared this exciting new digital world to the earliest days of the dotcom era, and just as there were winners and losers then, so too will there be winners and losers today. Although bitcoin and Ethereum appear to be the frontrunners right now, recall that only 20 years ago AOL and Yahoo! were poised to dominate the internet. How times have changed!
It will be interesting to see which coins emerge as the “Amazon” and “Google” of cryptocurrencies.
For now, Ethereum has some huge backers. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), according to its website, seeks to “learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production—Ethereum.” The EEA includes several big-name financial and tech firms such as Credit Suisse, Intel, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase, whose own CEO, Jamie Dimon, knocked cryptos a couple of weeks ago.
To learn more about the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, watch this engaging two-minute video.
Will Bitcoin Replace Gold?
Lately I’ve been seeing more and more headlines asking whether cryptos are “killing” gold. Would the gold price be higher today if massive amounts of money weren’t flowing into bitcoin? Both assets, after all, are sometimes favored as safe havens. They’re decentralized and accepted all over the world, 24 hours a day. Transactions are anonymous. Supply is limited.
But I don’t think for a second that cryptocurrencies will ever replace gold, for a number of reasons. For one, cryptos are strictly forms of currency, whereas gold has many other time-tested applications, from jewelry to dentistry to electronics.
Unlike cryptos, gold doesn’t require electricity to trade. This makes it especially useful in situations such as hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, where 95 percent of people are reportedly still without power. Right now the island’s economy is cash-only. If you have gold jewelry or coins, they can be converted into cash—all without electricity or WiFi.
Finally, gold remains one of the most liquid assets, traded daily in well-established exchanges all around the globe. Every day, some £13.8 billion, or $18 billion, worth of physical gold are traded in London alone, according to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The cryptocurrency market, although expanding rapidly, is not quite there yet.
I will admit, though, that bitcoin is energizing some investors, especially millennials, in ways that gold might have a hard time doing. The proof is all over the internet. You can find a number of TED Talks on bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, but to my knowledge, none is available on gold investing. YouTube is likewise bursting at the seams with videos on cryptos.
Bitcoin is up 350 percent for the year, Ethereum an unbelievable 3,600 percent. Gold, meanwhile, is up around 10 percent. Producers, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, have gained 11.5 percent in 2017, 23 percent since its 52-week low in December 2016.
Look Past the Negativity to Find the Good News
The news is filled with negative headlines, and sometimes it’s challenging to stay positive. Take Friday’s jobs report. It showed that the U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first month in seven years that this happened. A weak report was expected because of Hurricane Irma, but no one could have guessed the losses would be this deep.
The jobs report wasn’t all bad news, however. For one, the decline is very likely temporary. Beyond that, a record 4.88 million Americans who were previously sitting out of the labor force found work last month. This helped the unemployment rate fall to 4.2 percent, a 16-year low.
There’s more that supports a stronger U.S. economy. As I shared with you last week, the Manufacturing ISM Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a 13-year high in September, indicating rapid expansion in the manufacturing industry. Factory orders were up during the month. Auto sales were up. Oil has stayed in the relatively low $50-a-barrel range, which is good for transportation and industrials, especially airlines. Small-cap stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 Index, continue to climb above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages as excitement over tax reform intensifies.
These are among the reasons why I remain bullish.
One final note: Speaking on tax reform, Warren Buffett told CNBC last week that he’s waiting to sell assets until he knows the plan will go through. “I would feel kind of silly if I realized $1 billion worth of gains and paid $350 million in tax on it if I just waited a few months and would have paid $250 million,” he said.
It’s a fair comment, and I imagine other like-minded, forward-thinking investors, buyers and sellers will also wait to make huge transactions if they can help it. Tax reform isn’t a done deal, but I think it has a much better chance of being signed into law than a health care overhaul.
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