Randy Fox Interviews John A. Warnick

Randy Fox Interviews John A. Warnick

Article posted in General on 9 February 2015| comments
audience: National Publication, Two Hawks Consulting, LLC | last updated: 9 February 2015


I have the opportunity to break new ground as Editor in Chief for The Planned Giving Design Center. In late March (19-20), I'll be attending and reporting from the Fusion Collaboration Conference in Orlando, Florida. Hosted by John A Warnick, founder of the Purposeful Planning Institute, the conference seeks to blend the highly technical aspects of wealth transfer planning, with the values driven methodology that "Purposeful Planning" represents. The conference will consist of technical and non-technical presentations and panels and focus on inter-disciplinary collaboration, one of the main challenges of professional planning.

I’ve also been invited by a group of colleagues to a light discussion on nothing less than the future of philanthropy.  I’m hoping we do it around the swimming pool with cocktails with little umbrellas in them…

I had a brief call with John A. to discuss the formal program in more detail.

Randy:    Hi, this is Randy Fox and I’m here today with John A. Warnick, the founder and head guru of the Purposeful Planning Institute, and I’m here to talk with John A. about an upcoming event called The Fusion Collaboration, which will take place March 19th and 20th in Orlando, Florida.

John A:    Good afternoon Randy.  It’s wonderful to be talking with you.

Randy:    Can you give me a little bit of background about the Purposeful Planning Institute and where it came from?

John A:    I can.  Purposeful Planning Institute (PPI) is celebrating its fifth anniversary in February of 2015.  It was founded by me on the belief that there is a better way for us to serve legacy families and families in business.  I had become convinced in my years as a practicing tax attorney that no matter how incredibly well drafted, designed, and executed the technical planning was, that too often there were unseen influences or unanticipated influences that would often undermine or derail the technical planning and could lead to unintended consequences that were far outside the boundaries of what my clients, the creators of these structures and techniques had intended.  It was that curiosity Randy that started in the late 90s, continued strongly in the earliest years—say the first five or six years—of this century that I was constantly immersing myself in anything that I could find, any research, any treatises, any books that had been written that were discussing what today I call “purposeful planning”.  The idea that there is an opportunity for us to integrate into and enhance the technical planning with legacy relational planning and strategies, philanthropic strategies, that make the whole process better, more satisfying for the clients, more positively impactful for the intended beneficiaries, and I think for the professional advisor and consultants that are working with these families, more satisfying and potentially more rewarding, even financially. 

PPI was founded because in the previous decade I had run into an incredible number of thought leaders and influencers who I thought were reshaping the landscape that I was working in and I wanted to share their ideas and these new paradigms that I was learning through them with a broader community of professional advisors and consultants.  Six estate planning attorneys and a wealth manager were the first seven people that signed up and we grew quickly to—we have grown by over 100 in the last 12 months—to where we are now a community of around 350.  The demographic today, about half of the community comes from what I would call the wealth management space, about 15% from the legal space, and those would be primarily T&E, tax lawyers and business succession attorneys, and then the other 35% is a remarkably diverse set of serving professionals coming from all sorts of different realms of expertise and knowledge – philanthropic consultants, family business consultants, family governance experts, communication facilitators, peacemakers, individuals who specialize in helping families overcome the destructive forces of addiction and impaired lives, coaches, wealth psychologists, just an incredibly diverse group.  That is PPI.

Randy:    That’s a great answer and an impressive collection of professionals. Tell me a little bit about the Fusion Collaboration, which is a departure from your normal event that takes place in Denver in August.  The fusion collaboration takes place in March in Orlando.  Tell me about that meeting, John A. 

John A:    First of all, we try to find great places to hold events and to pick ideal times to be in those locations.   I think we do that with Rendezvous, the late July/early August event that you are talking about, and I think we have found that mid-March, late March is the ideal time to be in Florida.  Having grown up in Florida I can tell you that it’s tough to find a better time of the year to be in Florida than the time that we picked to be there.  Fusion Collaboration is a dream that I’ve had for probably the last three years. I have been to probably 25 Heckerling Institutes.  I have lived and died by Heckerling and Fusion Collaboration isn’t meant to replace a Heckerling experience, but one of the things that I wanted to do was to create an opportunity where technical advisors—the lawyer, the CPA, the CFP, the trustee, the philanthropic consultant, the advisor—these technical advisors could learn about the latest cutting edge developments just as you would hear it at Heckerling.  It won’t be as intense or as extensive as a weeklong experience that Heckerling is.  This is a two-day experience. 

We would provide continuing professional and continuing legal education credits for the learning that takes place and we would not only gain awareness around the technical topics, but learn what are the best practices for individual and family flourishing and how can you fuse into the technical aspects of estate planning, wealth management, business succession planning?  How can you fuse into those areas the positivity of relational and legacy and philanthropic planning?   That is going to be demonstrated and showcased, and the collaboration word in Fusion Collaboration is we are quite serious about taking collaboration, extending the frontiers of collaboration, and demonstrating the benefits of collaboration, teaching how to become a better collaborator, as well as illuminating the positive benefits of collaboration.  So for anyone who says,” I wish that I could find someone who could help my client with…,”  they should come to Fusion Collaboration because they will learn ways in which they can find the right individual, the right professional to connect their client to.  They will meet a lot of those individuals at Fusion and gain access to a community that is really founded on collaboration and is making more effective and more frequent collaboration possible.

Randy:    It sounds very exciting, John A, and I understand there is some fairly well known keynotes that will be speaking.   I saw that Steve Leimberg is actually going to be there and everybody knows Steve is a high level technician.  That is very impressive that you got him to come. 

John A:    Well, we wanted to get a mainliner to be the opening keynoter that was familiar to technical planners across all the disciplines and professions, and I think Steve Leimberg is just an outstanding choice for that opening keynoter.  What is interesting is I’ve talked to Steve and as I’ve listened to Steve, Steve has gone through a professional metamorphosis in the sense that I think everybody thinks of Steve as a technician and perhaps one of the greatest all time advisors in terms of providing techniques, hot ideas, and getting them out into the professional world.  What a lot of people don’t know about Steve is he has gone through a similar journey to mine where he has realized that despite the very best technical planning often times something more is needed.  He is going to be giving a keynote address around what he has learned and what he has been doing.  He is going to be focused on the non-tax aspects—I guess we could say the non-technical aspects—of succession planning.  And it will be a very, I think, eye opening keynote to start Fusion Collaboration.

Randy:    Very exciting.  And the program is two days and its March 19th and 20th, is that correct?

John A:    That’s right.  We start early on the morning of the 19th and we are going to wrap up right around 4:00 in the afternoon of the 20th.  I think the maximum number of hours people can get in terms of CLECP is going to come in somewhere in the 13-14 hour range for the two days.  We are going to have some really unique learning taking place. We will have straight technical presentations.  We are going to have Marty Shenkman, who a lot of people know through Steve Leimberg’s information services. I think his reviews of Heckerling probably get more distribution than any other commentator who comments and reviews the Heckerling Institute.  Marty is going to share with us the 138 pages of extensive notes that he has compiled from his participation at Heckerling and his studying and listening to the Heckerling presentations.  He is also then going to pick six to ten of the very best ideas that he heard at Heckerling this year.  We’ll open with lunch Thursday afternoon with an hour and fifteen minute presentation from Marty that is called “Heckerling 2015 Nuggets Grantor Trusts – The Quest for Basis and More”.  You’ll not only get the excellent materials, but you will get a chance to hear his synopsis and distillation of the very best in an hour and fifteen minute presentation. 

Randy:    Which is about the best way to absorb Heckerling I think. 

John A:    There are just a large number of great presenters who are coming. We are going to have some wonderful panels.  This is a place to discover the power of fusing technical and purposeful planning and picking up strategies that can be implemented immediately. This is a unique conference that advisors should consider attending.  We would love to provide them with any other background or information they need to make their decision to come.

Randy:    Well, I’m looking forward to being there and to providing my first opportunity to do live reporting.  It should be a great opportunity.

John A:    We’re looking forward to having you do that.  Thank you very much.

Randy:    Thanks, John A., and thanks for your time today.

Click here to listen to the audio version of this interview.

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