What business owners can learn from the E Street Band

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Print this page John P. Dedon

Is there Bruce without Clarence? 

When E Street Saxophonist Clarence Clemons died June 19th, there was a sadness and loss felt by many beyond Clarence’s family and friends.  August will mark the 36 anniversary since the release of the greatest album ever, Born to Run, with Bruce and Clarence forever linked on the cover.  Certainly no Springsteen concert will ever be the same without Clarence.  The epic tales may sound the same - 10th Avenue Freeze Out, Jungleland, on and on - but the experience won’t be the same.

I recognize that this is a column pertaining to estate planning and business owners, not a place to pay tribute to a talented musician by an unabashed fan.  There is a financial planning lesson, however, for business owners to learn from Bruce, Clarence and the E Street Band.  Business owners need a financial planning band, a team, to satisfy their objectives. 

No one person is capable of handling the myriad of complex issues and concerns that business owners face.  Income tax planning, estate tax planning, succession planning, and liquidity concerns, are but a few of the tax, legal and financial planning issues that must be considered and solved.  The band should consist of an estate attorney, banker, CPA and financial adviser.  The financial adviser may handle both investments and life insurance, or those roles may be divided among financial advisers.  Depending on the business owner and the concerns, anyone of these band members may be the leader.

So would Bruce have earned his seat in the front row of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without Clarence?  Of course.  But even with his talent, Bruce needed a band to help him.  (Despite a couple of great Bruce albums without the E Street Band, fans longed for Bruce and the band reuniting.)  And as a member of the band, Clarence was first among equals.

Business owners should not care who, on their financial planning band, is Bruce and who is Clarence, just as long as they are relying on their attorney, banker, CPA and financial adviser working together to accomplish their objectives.

Rest in peace Big Man.

John P. Dedon is a principal in the firm with the Trust, Estate & Tax Planning practice group of Odin, Feldman & Pittleman. Dedon blogs about estate planning issues for Virginians and U.S. citizens at http://www.dedononestateplanning.typepad.com

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