New Year Checklist
 

Why It Matters:
  • The start of a new year can be a good time to review your clients’ financial strategy.
  • Even if your clients haven’t touched their investment portfolio, shifts in the market can alter their allocations. Rebalancing can demonstrate your value.
  • Life events can impact your clients’ insurance and financial needs. Everything from beneficiaries to contribution limits may require attention.

Your clients may not understand the value of a yearly office visit. You can demonstrate your value – and serve their needs – by helping them review their situation as the New Year begins.

The start of a new year can be an opportune time to review your clients’ full financial picture, revisit retirement strategies, and reconsider insurance, spending, and investments.

The experienced financial and legal professionals in Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group offer a downloadable “New Year Checklist” that can help you, and your clients, with 12 essential review points.

Some of the steps may seem like common sense, but others may serve as a great reminder for clients to consider as their lives change.

Areas for review:

Look back: Start with a get-to-know-you chat. Any changes in 2017 that might impact your clients’ finances? They may not even recognize the impact of some life changes. New baby? New job? A change in marital status? Someone who went through a divorce probably wants to review the beneficiary listed on insurance and retirement accounts.

Look ahead: Without goals, it’s hard for clients to know where they’re going. A clear review of strategies can help them stay focused.

Prepare: Without an adequate emergency fund, clients may find themselves drawing from retirement accounts or investments in the event of an unexpected cost, such as a car repair or medical bill. If they haven’t built some accessible cash savings, you may want to talk to them about setting aside funds for life’s twists.

Protect: When they were getting started, insurance may not have been a concern for many clients. But now that they may have a family, a home, and investments, they have more to lose, which means more to protect. January can be a good time to review their insurance situation, including life, health, liability, auto, and more.

Balance: Even if your clients haven’t touched their investment portfolio, changes in the markets may have taken them off the course you set last year. The complicated process of rebalancing can be a way to demonstrate value.

Tax time: As W-2s and 1099s roll in ahead of tax season, clients may want to discuss their tax status. Are there tax-advantaged strategies they haven’t considered?

Plan contributions: Did a client set a workplace retirement contribution percentage years ago and forget about it? Raises, promotions, and hitting those catch-up ages can open opportunities for additional retirement savings.

Small businesses: If a part-time hobby turned into a full-time job, or if a client branched off from a big firm to fly solo, he or she may want to investigate retirement plans for small business owners such as a solo 401(k) or SIMPLE IRAs. Benefits can be confusing, that’s where you can help.

IRA limits: Early in their career, a traditional IRA can be the place for clients to invest for retirement while getting a current-year tax break. But as they’ve become more successful, enrolled in a workplace retirement plan, and started earning more, that tax break starts to phase out. Clients may not realize the phase-out threshold isn’t as high as they think, starting at $101,000 for a married couple with access to a workplace retirement plan.

Those sneaky RMDs: After a lifetime of investing, is it time to start drawing down a retirement account? If your clients are turning 70½ in the coming year, then yes. In fact, they’re required to through required minimum distributions (RMDs). But it’s not just older clients who need to consider RMDs. Younger clients who have inherited a retirement account may be required to take an RMD as well.

Gift giving: Is charitable giving part of your clients’ tax strategy? Why not talk about those considerations now and make a purposeful plan instead of rushing at the end of the year?

Trust issues: Trusts can be complicated, and a financial professional can definitely help. You can help clients review investments inside of a trust and consider tax strategies. In complex situations, you could even work as a team with your clients’ tax and legal professionals.

The full New Year Checklist has more detailed information. Download it today.


Things to Consider:
  • Over time, financial affairs can get complicated. Clients may come to recognize the value you add with a New Year review.
  • Consider discussing any potential changes to retirement contribution limits, individual retirement accounts, and any other regulatory changes for 2018.
  • With a few questions, you can help clients check their beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies.

Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment or legal advice.  Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.

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