Financial Planning for Actors and Artists

Having control over your finances frees you to be more creative and have a longer creative life.

It’s no secret that a life in the arts does not come with some of the traditional financial securities of a 9-5 corporate job. There are organizations like The Actors Fund who do their best to offer information and services to support the artist’s needs, but while much of the business world and the baby-boomer generation seems to have benefitted from a ton of practical advice and financial systems that help them build savings and wealth, artists feel left out.

Well thankfully someone is trying to change that. I had Darren Sussman on the podcast who, along with his brother Erik, has developed The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts. The IFWA as it’s known, is really the first of its kind national organization built to bridge the gap between hard working artists (musicians, actors, filmmakers, painters, composers, etc.) and the financial planners who can help those artists turn their unique income situations into robust savings and wealth building platforms.

Darren and I dove into some details of how financial wellness really improves the sustainability of artists and why this advice is often missed.

Mike:

Why do you think the creative community has been underserved in terms of financial wellness and education; and how does the Institute for Financial Wellness for the Arts aim to improve that?

Darren:

The key reasons why the arts community is underserved is one, because it just generally has not been a target market for traditional financial services companies. And what I mean by that is, you know, their doors aren’t getting knocked on for several reasons. One is that both arts organizations and artists alike are not necessarily front of mind to these traditional financial services companies. Sure, it may be because they may not perceive them as the high net worth individuals that they want to be hunting. Or it may be because the arts market is elusive. And that’s a fact. It’s a very elusive market. Starting with, for example, the arts organizations.

You know, TheaterMania, for example, one of the reasons we became viable was we identified the thousands and thousands of viable not for profit theatre companies and arts organizations around the country that were fragmented. So this fragmentation around the market makes it hard to find them. So your traditional financial services company doesn’t really know where to look to target arts organizations to bring the service to their organization, and in terms of artists, and that being actors, musicians, dancers, you name it, you know, those people are working all the time. But you know, how do you how do you track them down? So they’re generally not targeted by that industry? Which is one of the reasons that leads to this gap.

Mike:

You guys are able to bridge that gap and connect the financial services that the artists definitely need in a way that makes sense to them and the way that everybody wins because everybody understands what’s going on.

Darren:

Yes, there has to be a deep understanding of the patterns of income of an artist and understanding of if there are pensions involved, if they’re an independent contractor, what are those pensions? How do they work? You need to understand also the emotional state of an artist and how to how to speak to them. In terms of money, you know, there’s generally oftentimes a mistrust of people in the financial world, right, with arts, arts professionals and artists for many valid reasons.

Mike:

What can we expect to come from The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts?

Darren:

Look out for a lot of great content. We have some really fun stuff planed. We’re putting the whole team together. It’s going to be nationwide content that appeals to everybody. Lots of video, lots of audio, lots of fun stories, and a large media presence.


That helps get the conversation amplified. So we’ll be working with a lot of sort of third party media to get the word out, similar to what I’m doing today. But also, you know, expect a lot of expanded original content. And that’s really meaning, IFWA coursework.

So right now, our main course that we’re publishing online is the financial wellness course, you can expect a lot more courses. We’re going to roll out more and more courses. Expect a lot more education in the workplace. We’re going to be doing a national tour of in the workplace and in colleges.

And then the really fun thing that I’m excited about, which is a bit of ways but not too far, is a lot of live events and foundation where where we’re going to, you know, because it is the entertainment industry, what better way to talk about financial stuff than at a concert or in a comedy show. So we’re going to be either producing or sponsoring a lot of live events, and ultimately doing foundation work where we’re able to give some money back to the community and different ways. 

Resources In this Episode:

Websites:

The Institute of Financial Wellness for the Arts