Strategy

INTERVIEW: Long Island Advisor On His Specialized Offering For HNW Families Impacted By Autism

Harriet Davies, Editor - Family Wealth Report, 14 September 2012

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Charles Massimo, founder of CJM Wealth Management, launched a specialist offering within his practice around three years ago catering for families impacted by autism.

Charles Massimo, founder of CJM Wealth Management, launched a specialist offering within his practice around three years ago catering for families impacted by autism. He has since found that there is latent demand for such specialized services.

Massimo, who has two sons on the autism spectrum, says the practice is “something near and dear to my heart.”

It is also something that affects many, and – as with other disabilities or long-term illnesses - has serious financial consequences. A Harvard study in 2006 estimated it could cost about $3.2 million to take care of an autistic person over his or her lifetime – a figure which has presumably risen since.

Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that around one in 88 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder by the age of 8. Meanwhile, Mark Roitmayr, president of Autism Speaks, estimated in a CDC press briefing this year that around $137 billion annually is spent due to autism in the US. Massimo says that breaking this down to an individual family level is an indicator of the challenge families face.

Autism also impacts the family practically. “I know, day-to-day, what a 24/7 job it is,” says Massimo. “Many of these children will be dependent on their parents for their entire lives.”

Discussing families’ reactions when confronted with such challenges and costs, Massimo says: “They feel incredibly overwhelmed.”

His clients are wealthy families, but he says “even wealthy families feel overwhelmed by cost” because they have so many other goals – education of descendants, retirement planning, philanthropic giving, lifestyle – that they’re also hoping to meet. However, “wealthy [people] are used to this kind of planning, so they’re more aware…but it’s an educational process.”

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