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Why It Matters:
Your clients are more than a balance sheet. They’re people. And people have different needs at different stages in their lives.
To learn about client needs, you may need to engage in some deeper conversations.
Clients may not know how deep your knowledge runs or may be afraid to bring up a topic they think is outside your experience.
Getting to know a client used to be pretty straightforward. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) spells it out, and it’s hard to imagine a financial professional doesn’t know the basics of “Know Your Customer.”
But for financial professionals to truly serve clients, there’s a lifetime of discussions and questions ahead. What are clients investing for? What do they want? Do they understand each coming stage, and how their health and wealth are intertwined?
When your clients are starting out, children may be in the plan, and preparing financially is a family affair. Whether or not a client has children is a big deal. Clients caring for young children may need to consider day care costs, college savings, special savings plans for children with disabilities, legacy strategies, and protecting family income, should the unexpected happen.
It happens. It’s rarely pleasant, and it involves complicated untangling including child rearing and the division of qualified retirement savings. Attorneys may do the heavy lifting, but clients may need financial guidance, too.
Client birthdays trigger certain things. Quick, what happens when a client turns 50, 55, 59 1/2, 60, 62, 65, 66, and 70 1/2? Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group offers a library of informative tools prepared by experts in the field.
Whether they are helping aging parents, or looking to protect their own assets, clients can benefit from a frank talk about fraud and scams that stalk older people.
Death of a parent
For clients who’ve never dealt with the situation, grief can be compounded by confusion. From knowing what a death certificate is (and why they’ll need multiple copies) to understanding beneficiary IRAs and life insurance, clients may need help.
There’s retirement saving and retirement income. For most, income is what matters. Clients spend a working lifetime saving but may not understand retirement spending. Help them imagine a budget and where the money will come from. There are many retirement income solutions and strategies, but clients may need a financial professional to help them work through the weeds.
Ask clients how well they understand Social Security benefits. They have benefit claiming options and could earn higher monthly benefits if they wait until reaching full retirement age. Yet most claim early, accepting a substantially reduced benefit. There’s no right or wrong age to claim, but the decision to should be intentional and informed.
Clients may think of Medicare as “free health insurance.” But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Ask clients if they know what Medicare covers, what it doesn’t, and what filling those gaps will cost (then help them build that expense into the retirement budget).
Medical expenses can devastate even a rock solid portfolio. Ask clients about family medical history to help them anticipate potential needs, especially if there’s a likelihood that skilled long-term care is in the picture. It may be an uncomfortable conversation at first, but more than 5 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, a tragic and debilitating condition. Transamerica works continually with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote programs that lead to discussions of preparing financially when coping with dementia. Preparations should include medical directives, powers of attorney, financial resources set aside for medical care, and estate planning.
Americans are living longer. Early retirement may not make sense if a client lives to 100. As Stanford University Professor of Economics John Shoven said, “Few workers can fund a 30-year retirement with a 40-year career.” Clients may work longer than their parents. Advances in health care, nutrition, exercise, and healthy habits mean your clients may live a lot longer than they expect. How will they spend that time? Social engagement has emerged as a vital part of retirement planning.
All of these conversations are important chances to build a better connection. Transamerica’s Language of the Customer program features a guide built on the research of communications experts Luntz Global that can help financial professionals have better, deeper conversations with clients.
Transamerica has resources to help financial professionals ask the probing questions that will help guide your clients through their financial lives. Check out Transamerica’s New Age of Advice for the latest developments on a variety of topics.
Things to Consider:
Think about starting each client meeting with some light chatter. How’s the family? Any new additions? Hey, you’ve got a birthday coming up, right?
A client may not know about the age-related milestones and may not think to ask about them. You can remind them of the triggers they’ll hit at 50, 55, 59 1/2, etc.
With people living longer than ever, remind your clients the importance of estimating how much income they’ll need in retirement.