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    We can’t become what we need to by remaining what we are.” – Oprah Winfrey

    In her new book titled “Investing is Your Superpower,” written primarily for the types of female professionals who have organized the National Structured Settlement Trade Association’s new Women’s Caucus, Shinobu Hindert prefaces her concluding chapter with the preceding quote by Oprah Winfrey.

    SubtitledA Step-by-Step Guide to Creating A Lifestyle You Always Wanted,” her book offers readers a personal financial “Empowerment Plan” consisting of three Phases: 1) Building a Foundation; 2) Learning Investing Essentials and Strategies; and 3) Developing SMART Goals - Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; and Timely.

    Disclosure: Shinobu Hindert is this writer’s daughter-in-law.

    Focusing on Women

    Shinobu explains in her introduction why her book focuses on women:

    Women have been left out. In school, we learned about long division, the Pythagorean theorem, and even the rules of dodgeball. But how to effectively manage and invest our money? Nope! Didn’t make the curriculum.”

    What about those professional women, NSSTA members, who aspire to become “settlement planners?” Shinobu suggests the following general observation:

    As with most things in life, you need to help yourself before you can help anyone else. Flight attendants reminds us every time we fly: ‘Please securely fasten your face mask before assisting others.’ In order to change the overall trends, you need to start with your own empowerment.

    Shinobu cites a couple of studies that highlight both a need for financial education and an opportunity:

    • 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than money according to a 2018 study conducted by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave.
    • However, a recent Fidelity Investment study revealed that 92% of women want to learn more about financial planning.

    So why should female members of NSSTA, or other professional settlement planning associations, listen to Shinobu – or read her book?

    NSSTA’s Women’s Caucus already answered that question, in part, by inviting Shinobu to guest speak at one of their earliest events. Shinobu, a Certified Financial Planner and financial educator, has created myriads of financial plans for clients and presented more than 500 live workshops covering topics from budgeting to estate planning.

    An equally relevant question: why should NSSTA female members, who historically sell a single product (structured settlement annuities), primarily to injured claimants and their families, be interested professionally, as well as personally, in a book that discusses financial planning and non-structured settlement investments?

    Transformative Learning

    As NSSTA President Michael Goodman pointed out in his opening remarks during NSSTA’s recent 2021 Annual Conference : NSSTA members are becoming settlement planners. He recommended that NSSTA change its Mission Statement to reflect what our members do” – specifically “settlement planning with structured settlement annuities as our core products.”

    From that business perspective, Shinobu’s book is both timely and complementary to other books this writer has reviewed here and here on Independent Life’s website:

    • Traci Kaas’ book, What to Expect When Expecting a Settlement”  is an excellent resource to help educate injured persons about the settlement planning process. Traci very thoroughly includes advice about building “Your Brain Trust” of professional advisors, provides an overview of the legal process, shares the basics of financial literacy, and explains how to both seek and protect government benefits such as multiple “needs-based” public benefits in addition to SSI and Medicaid.
    • Jason Lazarus likewise filled an important settlement planning void when he published "The Art of the Settlement: A Lawyer's Guide to Regulatory Compliance when Resolving Catastrophic Claims."  Although Jason’s book targets personal injury attorneys, it also represents a valuable learning resource for other professionals whose practice focuses on settlement planning.

    Of course, other educational resources exist for members of the personal injury settlement planning profession:

    Like these other books, “Investing is Your Superpower,” also helps to fill a current resource and curriculum void.

    In her Introduction, Shinobu explicitly states what her book is not: it is not about alternative investments. It is not about complex investment strategies. It is not about becoming a professional investment advisor. It is not a get rich quick guide. Although it does offer tips on budgeting debt and credit, it does not represent a personal finance 101 breakdown.

    What Shinobu’s book does provide is a step-by-step guide to creating and achieving multiple financial goals using a thoughtful investment strategy.

    As outlined above, her guide (a personal financial “Empowerment Plan”) consists of three phases supplemented with: personal experiences, case studies featuring hypothetical clients, journal exercises, industry tips, concise and understandable technical summaries, plus Shinobu’s enthusiastic encouragement and her Empowerment Planning Golden Rules.

    What is “financial empowerment?”

    Shinobu defines financial empowerment as “the ability to confidently make informed decisions about your money. You know how to talk about money, and you know how to evaluate financial risk. Financial jargon that once made you shut off is now digestible. You are comfortable speaking with financial professionals because you know what questions to ask and how to interpret their answers.

    "Perhaps most important of all, you develop a new understanding of money. You recognize that money is not your ultimate desire but a tool that allows you to freely pursue your true passions.”

    CONCLUSION

    With their own website and considerable momentum, the NSSTA Women’s Caucus appears to have an exciting, innovative future. Perhaps their entrepreneurial members will not only benefit personally from Shinobu’s book, but also identify new ways to apply her ideas and methodologies to help transform their own professional knowledge and structured settlement annuities into “empowerment planning” for injured individuals and their families.

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