How to Communicate Postnup and Prenup Agreements with Clients

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)

Table of Contents

Let me drop some interesting stats before we jump into the subject of communicating postnup and prenup agreements to your clients. It turns out as incomes grow to $200K/year, divorce rates decline from 40% to 30% and then the divorce rate drops further to 25% as the household income reaches $600K/year. But then something counterintuitive happens – when household income goes well beyond $600K/year, those divorce rates start steadily climbing again to the same 30% zone (according to Forbes Advisor). Fascinating, isn’t it?

But why? What’s the core issue? I think, all those financial assets and intertwining make for some messy untangling if marriage relationships start to erode. And big careers leave less time for open communication. So money secrets brew more toxicity over time without financial alignment.

The good news is financial advisors can change it! By arming couples with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements upfront, we can potentially help divorce rates plunge. So isn’t it our duty to have those uncomfortable talks if it reduces six-figure heartbreaks later? I say absolutely!

The fact is, after watching too many good relationships gone bad over surprise finances, I and Sarah Balram, a Certified Divorce Specialist (CDS) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and recent guest on the Discovery Series Podcast by Desjardins, I can’t stay silent anymore. In this guide, I’ll share strategies on how to communicate prenuptial and postnuptial agreement to your clients as a financial advisor.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Build Trust First: Establish a strong foundation of trust and understanding with clients before broaching prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement discussions. Get personal by sharing your own experiences to make the topics more relatable.
  • Highlight Partnership Protection: Frame these agreements as tools to protect the partnership and financial security, not just protect assets in case of divorce. Emphasize how they reduce money conflicts and provide clarity.
  • Customize with Real Examples: Use personalized examples tied to the couple’s specific financial assets, family wealth, and lifestyle to illustrate the practicality of an agreement for their situation.
  • Ease Cultural Concerns: For clients with religious or cultural hesitations, share stories of how similar couples upheld faith tenets around financial obligations and responsibility through agreements.
  • Balance Interests Equitably: Debunk the myth that agreements only benefit one spouse by proposing balanced terms like “sunset provisions,” life insurance protections, and equitable funding of expenses.
  • Convey Flexibility: Clarify that well-crafted agreements allow for revisions as situations change, acting as adaptable guides rather than rigid contracts through provisions like periodic reviews.
  • Encourage Ongoing Transparency: Establishing an agreement lays the groundwork, but continued open communication about financial matters between partners and with you as their financial planner is essential long-term.

Prenup Agreements Pushback Response Strategies for Financial Advisors

Prenup pushback Response strategy
Loss of romanticism Note research shows financial openness correlates with better relationship health. Provide examples of prenups enabling romantic goals like buying dream home. Suggest a money date night to discuss how alignment on finances can strengthen marriage.
Think it means planning to divorce Use metaphor of prenups as "financial seat belts" - you get them hoping to not need them. Share stats on amicable celebrity prenups. Suggest including required mediation terms before divorce proceedings.
Assumption it only benefits one partner Provide recent examples of prenups protecting lower earning spouses, especially women. Draft initial document together focusing on mutual goals/concerns.
Belief they're not enforceable Note detailed docs upheld in most states barring extreme unfairness/duress. Review precedents where reasonable updates were allowed over time.
Concern about exposing/combining assets Reassure asset protection alongside transparency enables trust. Include privacy terms for assets wishing to remain separate. Consider “if/then” scenarios covering future assets.
Cultural stigmas against planning for divorce Acknowledge cultural norms then bridge to common ground - both parties’ desire for family stability and financial security.
Both refusal to discuss Start with lower-stakes money talks: budgeting, financial goals, combining accounts. Don't force prenup talks but interweave facts. Offer to mediate larger discussions.
Future inability to renegotiate terms Note periodic reviews protect both parties with changing landscape. Include clause for required mediation before legal divorce proceedings initiate, when terms can adjust.
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Things to Consider Before You Discuss Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Alright guys, let’s chat about bringing up those pesky little prenup and postnup chats with clients! Talk about walking on eggshells, am I right? Broaching this topic is not for the faint of heart. But as uncomfy as it can be, protecting those relationships and financial assets is well worth doing right. Sarah Balram has certainly learned that lesson the hard way over the years, especially with more traditional communities she serves.

Take it from Sarah – a CFP who works with divorce attorneys and specializes in the Divorce Market, she faces a whole lot of landmines on this topic. One wrong step can blow the whole conversation. As she put it, no one wants to feel like the “bad guy” thinking about divorce!

Now I’ll level with you – there’s no magic bullet or perfect time just to drop a bombshell like this on folks. You risk offending clients or coming across overly pessimistic about the relationship if not handled carefully.

So how do you dance around the nerves? Well frankly time and trust are huge. You can ease it in jokingly once you got a few years with couples – hey you two should lock me in to manage the fortune once it comes! Test reactions before going further. People first, paperwork second as I always say!

And pick your timing smartly. If aunt Bertha is still using a flip phone, this ain’t the time for complex money convos! Big milestones are key pivot points. I recommend you bring it up gently when clients upgrade homes, come into family money, or when couples decide to start families. Feels prudent versus pessimistic during those chapters, takes the heat off.

And listen – not everyone comes from the same cultural lens here. For some, money matters stay behind closed doors. So dip your toe in the sensitivity waters before going full throttle on the conversation!

At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships and trust. You have to carefully present this as protecting the marriage itself. Get that foundation solid, then introduce sensitive topics with finesse tied to THEIR priorities. Assure nervous nellies that writing a roadmap means less chance of nasty U-turns ahead. There’s an art in playing financial therapist and financial planner together.

How to Frame Prenup and Postnup Conversations Positively

Just like a back catcher in baseball, you have to pitch frame the conversations. When selling this sensitive concept, think of yourself as nurturing the relationship – not just avoiding worst case fallout. You better frame things positively from minute one to earn trust, I’ve learned it the hard way.

So first, assure nervous couples you’re protecting both parties equally here. Your goal is their financial security and you represent their partnership first – not a biased side.

Next, politely validate hesitations – this stuff ain’t easy, I know! But lean into how clarifying expectations reduces resentment when life gets messy. Talk through account splits, property plans, all of it! Catching the foul ball now prevents the game from being lost.

And weave it all into your usual planning conversations – alongside retirement planning, estate specifics, insurance needs. You know the drill.

Finally, have a few anonymous “success stories” in your back pocket about loyal 20 year clients who found peace of mind after mapping things out upfront. Reduce their stress by painting the picture.

At the end of the day, this is about giving couples room to grow together free of money headaches.

INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)
Reh Bhanji (CFP, CLU)

National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins

Handling Religious and Cultural Factors in Prenup and Postnup Agreement Talks

Never to underestimate cultural hurdles when it comes to postnuptial and prenuptial agreements. Take my early days courting South Asian clients – you mention “prenuptial agreement” and they’d practically spit out their chai on me! Had to get creative so they didn’t see me as some harbinger of doom for their holy matrimony.

Casually probe on any religious red flags. In my community, elders still scoff at dotting I’s before the wedding. Once you spot nerves, share stories of similar couples. Heartfelt examples go far with the hesitant!

It’s about upholding faith tenets around financial care and responsibility. Just adding an insurance policy to their sacred union, right? Spin stories of religious mentors who tout wisdom in gentle transparency between partners. Boom – now you’re an ally aligned with ancient tradition, not a threat!

If all else fails, remind them even Romeo and Juliet could have used some terms in writing before that messy ending! Joke the lovers had the passion but missed the pragmatic planning to make it last. Corny but surprisingly effective to drive the logic home!

Think Outside the Box When Communicating Prenup and Postnup Agreements

Financial advisors have to get creative breaking the ice before jumping to business about agreements, or they lose couples fast. In my early days, I pitched this formal like an insurance policy. Crickets, I’m telling ya! Folks would rather talk mortgages all day than money messiness if things head south. Here’s a better approach:

First, humor helps everyone chill out – even just some banter about postnuptial and prenuptial agreements. Once you get them chuckling together, the tension lifts.

Then you can transition philosophically into why clarity and unity matter in lasting relationships, business or personal. That pulls at their values versus just legal stuff.

Paint a picture of how tackling this now means more freedom for romantic trips once the paperwork’s done. Who doesn’t want less financial headaches and more carefree loving!
And if all else fails, pull up a relatable movie clip as a neutral springboard. We all know storytelling moves people more than speeches!

The box is there for a reason, but you have to think outside it on these talks. Meet them where they are emotionally before the business. Do that and the rest starts flowing pretty smoothly!

7 Postnup and Prenup Myths and How Financial Planners Can Debunk Them

Alright folks, time for some postnuptial and prenuptial agreement myth busting! In my 25+ years guiding tricky money talks, I’ve all heard the typical pushback when postnuptial and prenuptial agreements come up:

“Reh, only the skeptical or super wealthy need those…”

“C’mon, our love will keep us safe…”

Well, I hate to break it to you, but those reactions just reveal BIG gaps in understanding these vital agreements. And dangerous gaps means relationships torpedoed unnecessarily down the road.

Well, not on Sarah’s watch! By getting this right together, she literally changed fates for countless loyal clients relying on her counsel. So let’s make sure all YOUR clients can say the same. (Discovery Series Webcast Episode “Flip My Life”).

Myth #1: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are only for celebrities and people with significant assets.

Yeah, no way! I signed one with my wife and I’m no celebrity. At least not yet 🙂

You know that old stereotype – prenuptial agreement is just for the rich and famous looking to protect lottery winnings and yachts in the event of a divorce. But the reality is, the average Joes need them too.

When a client thinks postnuptial and prenuptial agreements are only worthwhile for celebrities, I share this example… I signed one on my own wedding day back in 1998! I’m no star and don’t own a villa in Costa Rica, but it mattered to me.

Here are 3 simple but effective strategies to bust this myth and help your clients see the light:

  • Get personal with real stories. Leverage your own prenup experience or those of less affluent clients who have signed one. Specific details will ground prenup agreements in reality vs vague “someone else’s” issue. I personally find stepping back into my wedding day and explaining how my uncle insisted on that prenup makes them relatable!
  • Customize examples to their financial assets and lifestyle. A mansion or private jet means nothing to most folks. But protecting the family cabin, business shares or down payment assistance from mom and dad does. Know their financial assets and craft prenup scenarios to protect what matters most to THEM.
  • Remind them there’s no “family wealth minimum”. Whether an inheritance, jewelry from grandma or the couch and TV – you name it in a prenuptial agreement to cover.

The more financial planners position prenups as flexible tools for all, versus rigid devices for the 1%, the more open clients become. Use that strategy, along with custom examples and getting personal, to make prenup agreements feel accessible and essential, regardless of net worth.

Myth #2: Postnuptial and prenuptial agreements are only for couples with children from previous relationships.

Over the years I’ve heard every excuse for why couples think they “don’t need” agreements in place. But the kids myth has got to be one of the most misguided of all!

Now don’t get me wrong – if you’ve got little ones from past marriages, you better put expectations in writing. But the reality is even so-called “clean slate” couples carry financial baggage into marriages that should be aired out upfront!

When couples downplay prenuptial and postnuptial agreement because they don’t have children from past marriages, here are 3 targeted ways to redirect their thinking:

  • Spotlight high financial assets or income imbalances as a key risk without documentation in place. Remind them money surprises have sunk many fairytales.
  • Note family money and any significant assets brought into the marriage by one partner that deserve clarification. Inheritances, trusts, property, and businesses carry complication no matter how solid the relationship seems today.
  • Highlight stories of seemingly bulletproof relationships ruined by gambling issues, health crises, job loss and other financial hits over time. This can happen even without kids in the picture.

Let me give you a prime example from a client of my podcast guest Sarah Balram’s. Nice gal named Priya marries her college sweetheart Raj. Real fairytale romance. But here’s the thing – her family had MAJOR financial assets they gifted the bride. We’re talking prime commercial real estate and millions in the bank before this gal’s 25th birthday!

And as Sarah rightly told them – you gotta capture some of this on paper now in case that fairy tale sours. Sure, you love each other like crazy… today! But money does weird things over time, and this discrepancy is just too massive to ignore.

Reluctantly, our lovebirds sign that postnup spelling out the financial plan and who gets what if things crumble. Sadly some years later… hubby develops serious problems related to gambling and drains accounts dry! You better believe Priya was glad she had that paperwork in place once she filed for divorce.

So the bottom line – while kids no doubt amplify the need for agreements, the reality is any marriage with major financial gaps upfront carries risk. Don’t buy the myth that “clean slate” couples get a free pass on hashing out financial baggage upfront. Love may be patient, but money sure isn’t – so protect your clients!

Myth #3: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreement only benefits the high earner.

Folks, I can’t tell you how many times nervous nellies have asked me “Reh, be real – don’t these things just protect the big breadwinners?” Listen, I get it – when one splashes cash on fancy cars while the other pumps savings into the retirement kitty, it raises fair questions on who benefits if you split.

But here’s the reality – done right, these agreements create clarity and confidence all around. And Sarah makes darn sure to make the process fair and equal as part of her planning process.

The goal is getting everything above board so BOTH feel empowered, whether they stay together or not. Sure the heavy lifter needs protection, but it cuts both ways!

When chatting with clients, Sarah recommends using real talk about compromises she made as the money bags for one spouse to show a prenuptial agreement doesn’t have to skew towards one partner.

Beyond stories, as financial advisors, we can dismantle this misconception by spotlighting provisions precisely protecting the lower earner. You can consider the following 3 advanced fiscal strategies proving these prenup agreements can equitably serve financial goals of both parties:

  • Propose a “sunset provision” dissolution clause. This prescribes prenuptial terms like spousal support caps or business interest splits expire after X years of marriage. The provision sunsets if the relationship endures and risk of divorce declines. This structure incentivizes an equitable reconciliation of assets over time.
  • Offset concessions via life insurance planning. If the high income spouse agrees to balanced asset division or alimony, propose procuring life insurance policies as a hedge for lost future earnings. This fiscal planning around the prenuptial terms preserves long-term protections for them.
  • Front-load shared marital expenses. Philosophically, a prenuptial agreement securing one partner’s estate alone corrodes the marriage’s unity. So I discuss using it to define how expenses like homes, education costs and wellness spending are jointly funded despite income gaps. This enforces a one-for-all perspective.

With seven-figure clients especially, the myths of prenuptial agreements solely serving the rich persists. At the end of the day, a prenup offers protection by mutual agreement. That may mean the high roller compromises more assets to level the playing field. With the right mindset, you and your clients can create balanced terms regardless of pay gap.

Myth #4: Postnuptial and prenuptial agreements show you don't trust your spouse.

One whopper of a prenuptial agreement myth is that asking for a prenuptial agreement means you don’t trust your partner. Nonsense! Way I see it, prenuptial and postnuptial agreement requires you lay everything out financially. And for me and my wife, for example, getting real about money only made us tighter.

See, back before my wedding bells rang, my uncle asked to see my bank statements, investment accounts. Now at first that felt kinda awkward… who wants to confess they blew too much on baseball cards that month? And you know what? That honesty drew us closer together.

Sarah has been doing this work for years and she said she can’t recall a single time when a happily married couple told her “Sarah, we regret doing that postnup agreement.” But she has seen plenty of examples that went the other direction!

One of her clients who just finished a postgraduate school and was marrying his long term girlfriend. Head over heels in love! Now on the surface you’d think – oh they’re so devoted, no need for agreements! But Sarah insisted they sign one given the income gap and earning potential. No marriage is bulletproof – stuff happens, right? Even in the happiest relationships. So they sign the postnup spelling out who gets what if things go sideways. Lo and behold – couple years later, two kids in, she quits her job to raise them… and then he has an affair! Marriage crumbles shortly after. You better believe that postnuptial agreement made the separation MUCH smoother.

When talking to your clients you can also say something along these lines:

  • “It’s like wearing a seatbelt in a car – you don’t do it because you plan to crash, but because it’s the smart thing to do.”
  • “It’s not about planning for divorce, it’s about reducing money arguments and conflicts before they even happen.”
  • “I promise this – money left unspoken will give you more headaches than tough talks today.”

Here’s the deal – we have to reframe this with our clients. Financial planners need to position prenuptial and postnuptial agreements as just prudent RISK PLANNING, like any other protection-oriented financial tool. You get 100% real about finances and it ain’t always pretty… but man does it build trust and understanding fast.

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Myth #5: Prenup and postnup agreements only matter in the event of a divorce.

You wouldn’t believe how many folks think you only need postnuptial and prenuptial agreements if you’re certain the marriage is heading to Splitsville. But financial advisor power move? Note these prenup agreements equally dictate distributions if someone dies!

As Sarah Balram mentioned on a recent Discovery Series podcast, prenups handle asset division whether you divorce OR kick the bucket early. I saw this firsthand when a client died unexpectedly, and his ironclad prenup was in place to protect assets of his wife while seamlessly passing his share in a family business to their son.

You can make it clear for your clients that prenuptial agreements also prescribe financial obligations if health takes a turn, like:

  • Who foots medical bills if one partner facing extended care drains savings?
  • What level of spousal income contribution continues if disabilities disrupt work?
  • How to fairly adjust fiscal responsibilities if special needs must be funded for children?

And if your spouse does move on to partner #2, you’ll rest easy knowing your significant assets remain secure and divide by mutually agreed terms in the event of a divorce. So before clients dismiss prenuptial agreements as “just in case of divorce” legal documents only broaden the paradigm. Share real-world stories of prenups powerfully shaping asset outcomes through health crises and death too. Once they grasp these agreements establish fiscal guardrails whatever the future holds, you unlock commitment to get one inked!

In my book, counting on “until death” is as important as planning for “until we call the lawyers.” Ain’t no crystal ball that predicts the future! And prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have as much power over keeping the peace during life’s unexpected exits as they do ugly divorces.

Myth #6: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreement terms can't be changed.

Many clients assume prenuptial and postnuptial agreement terms get fixed in stone when inked before “I do’s”. We know circumstances aren’t always static. Crafted right, these babies are living documents with room to breathe as life throws curveballs.

So when clients balk that prenup terms remain set in stone, hit ‘em with this one-two combo:

  1. “We’re crafting this together. If anything changes or seems off down the road, we revisit.”
  2. “Think of this as adaptable roadmap directing finances through unpredictable terrain together.”

You are painting prenups as adjustable compasses versus rigid contracts will help your clients see they allow fluid course corrections when situations or needs shift. In Sarah’s experience, this one-two talking point combo never fails to hammer home the truth.

Also spotlight built-in strategies to evolve clauses with their changing situation:

  • Reopen discussions when financial facts shift, like inheritance windfalls or career downturns
  • Build in “Sunset Provisions” that phase-out or adjust terms after specified years marry, assuming divorce risk declines
  • Revisit prenup every 2-3 years to ensure divisions or supports remain relevant
  • Revise provision amounts pegged to inflation, like spousal contributions

Tangible examples signal flexibility. They help break rigid assumptions that prenups become unyielding black-and-white handcuffs over a marriage.

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Myth #7: Prenup and postnup agreements tell you how to run your marriage.

So get this – a buddy called the other week all anxious that a prenup agreement means handing a rulebook for how to live life with his wife. As if after saying “I do” he’ll get clocked upside the head for leaving his socks out or hugging his mom too long!

“Buddy, the only things a prenup governs is finances if, God forbid, you split ways someday. The
daily joys and headaches – that’s 100% between you and the wife day-to-day.”

To drive it home, I gave him some real talk on what mine dictates – the marital assets, spousal support, child support, etc. – and what it definitely doesn’t cover… like me forgetting to put the toilet seat down at 2am!

Painting that clear line between protecting finances without handcuffing lifestyle quashed his fears fast. So when clients envision prenups taking the magic and freedom out of marriage, keep it simple: These only control the money, not the marriage!

Ensure Ongoing Communication and Transparency

Formalizing expectations on paper sets the stage – but the marriage goes on for decades after! Your job isn’t done until you’re sure that transparency and talk of money priorities continues behind the scenes.

Show the importance of airing out any financial issues early – between spouses or including you as mediator. Bottling up resentment over finances brews toxicity for even the strongest bonds over time. Give permission for judgement-free venting.

Offer yourself as an impartial sounding board whenever needed, just like with other financial matters. Make it clear you represent the stability of the family law or partnership first and foremost in any counsel.

Beyond that, share tips for constructive financial check-ins on a quarterly or annual basis. Walk them through artful approaches to split bill paying, budgeting, investing and giving that upholds family wealth and unity. Outline creative compromises from the professional advice of past clients if needed.

At the end of the day, postnuptial and prenuptial agreements is just the first milestone.

INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERTS
Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter)
Reh Bhanji (CFP, CLU)

National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins

Conclusion

Conversations about prenuptial and postnuptial agreement ain’t for the faint of heart. Let me tell you that. But if financial advisors don’t step up to have those tough talks early and gently? They do their clients a great disservice.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the way you first frame this makes all the difference.

Come from a place of wanting to protect the partnership and understand their unique situation. Float test balloons when emotions are cool rather than heated. Make crystal clear your job is to be the marriage’s financial support and financial security ally. Not an ominous warning sign!

Follow that compassionate yet proactive approach and you may just be surprised how those hesitant hearts start opening minds to practical guidance. Heck, the couples that go through this process often come back years later, thanking Sarah for pushing them to pave an easier path even when it felt uncomfortable at first.

So guys, look – having awkward money conversations sucks. I get it. But staying silent and crossing fingers that finances don’t rock relationships later? That’s playing with fire, plain and simple. If nudging just one wary couple to get aligned and documented saves them headaches down the road? Well shoot, that makes a little initial discomfort worth it in my book.

FAQs

What misconceptions about prenups and postnups should financial advisors clarify with clients?

Financial advisors should clarify that postnuptial and prenuptial agreements protect both parties, can evolve over time, concern key financial assets not sentimental property, and don’t signify mistrust when done collaboratively.

Financial planners can emphasize that prenups and postnups enable peace of mind through clarity on finances, future support if relationships change, protection of family wealth and financial assets for intended heirs, and avoidance of lengthy court battles in the event of a divorce.

Financial advisors can show statistics on rising divorce rates and importance of planning, emphasize desire to protect both parties, discuss pros like ensuring fair division of financial assets in the event of divorce and financial security should relationship dynamics change in future.

To normalize prenuptial agreements, financial advisors can share celebrity and advisor examples of couples using agreements for mutual benefit, tie discussions to other planning around assets and retirement, and emphasize prenups are now common protective measures.

Disclaimer: The following information is being presented on the understanding that it is intended for information purposes only. None of the presenters or Desjardins Insurance has been engaged for the purpose of providing legal, taxation, or other professional advice. No one should act upon the examples/information without a thorough examination of the legal/tax situation with the appropriate professional advisors.

About the Author

Reh Bhanji (Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter), a veteran in the insurance and financial advisory industry, boasts over 25 years of experience. His journey began in 1998 at Imperial Life Financial in Toronto, ON, where he managed over $40 Million in annuity assets. His prowess quickly earned him a promotion to Team Leader in 2002, where he led a team of financial advisors. In 2005, Reh’s expertise propelled him to the role of Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Financial Security. In this role, he was responsible for training financial advisors and driving life and health insurance sales through strategic marketing and business development. His commitment to financial advisor education was further exemplified between 2007 and 2009, serving as Vice President for Education at Advocis Toronto (The Financial Advisors Association of Canada). In 2012, he became Senior Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Financial Security. At Desjardins, he managed the company’s largest account and developed key sales strategies and business building techniques for life and health insurance solutions. His exceptional leadership skills led to his 2020 promotion to National Best Practice Leader at Desjardins Financial Security, where he spearheaded the coaching and development of sales processes across the national network. In 2021, Reh expanded his influence as the host of the award-winning Discovery Series Podcast by Desjardins, providing a platform for industry-leading financial advisors to share their strategies, success stories, and industry leading insights.

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