Proving Value to Retired Clients: Creating a Financial Checklist
Many of us in this society have a very negative image about aging in general. We don’t want to be “old”. It is fueled by advertising on TV, movies, print media and other outlets with a consistent message: aging is bad, being younger and turning back the clock is good. We are a work ethic driven culture. When we are older and no longer “productive” we are generally seen as less valuable.
Then there is the fear and denial about dying and death. Our culture has been called the only one in the world that thinks of death as something optional. Note how we talk about it to family–“in case anything ever happens to me… Besides it being a fantasy that maybe something” won’t happen to us, it keeps us from planning, from preparing our loved ones and from being responsible about our older years, possible declining health and the burden ignoring these things can put on our families. Reaching retirement age is a time to do planning about more than money.
Financial advisors are in the planning business. You look ahead, analyze, budget and calculate. But your clients may not be on the same page in your view of the future. They are busy being in denial that they may ever get ill and die. You can help them. In doing so, it may also make your job of talking about such issues as long term care, budgeting and spending easier.
Most people do not want to burden their loved ones. Most of them do not want to trouble adult children unnecessarily as they age. That is your best selling point for bringing up the personal matters. These include how every senior and every retiree needs to plan for things in their own lives that go beyond how much money they’ve saved and how it will be spent having a great retirement.
Here at AgingInvestor.com we see the messes people leave behind when they nurture the Great American Fantasy that losing independence won’t happen to them and that they will live happily to age 100 and die peacefully in their sleep. Family members can spend years cleaning up the disaster their older loved ones leave because of failure to plan and take care of business. It is truly not fair to anyone. It leads to anger, resentment, family conflicts and sometimes to loss of wealth through ignorance. We’ve heard it and seen it countless times. We put a checklist together to help people avoid these disasters created by the fantasy.
What Can You Do About It?
You can give your clients this checklist next time you sit with them and review the portfolio. You can gently urge them to do what the list says is needed. We’ve broken down the essentials into 10 points, a “to do” list if you will. You can encourage them to take care of the items on the list, if they haven’t already. In general, the to do list includes updating the estate plan, having critical documents in the right hands, providing necessary financial, computer and account information to trusted family and having a family meeting to educate one’s heirs about the older person’s affairs. This is how your client gets a family ready. This is how they avoid unduly burdening anyone. This is how they free their loved ones from distress and unnecessary work when they have to take action as an aging parent declines and passes away.
Some of your clients will brush off your suggestion. They love that Great American Fantasy and aren’t about to give it up. Others will thank you as they have thanked us and will go forward. Their families will be forever grateful. You’ll look like the caring, smart and responsible planner that you are.
Get your free 10 point checklist, Don’t Wait Until You’re Old, click HERE.
What's an Investor to Do When History Doesn't Repeat Itself?
We’re in an era of extremes. It seems a day doesn’t go by without the word “historical” popping up in the financial news.
The equities market and consumer debt are at historical highs. Interest rates and high-yield credit spreads are at historical lows. We haven’t seen even a 5% pull-back in the market this year—for the first time since 1995—and the DJIA is exhibiting its narrowest trading range in history. These are indeed historical times. And whether this fact has you filled with extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, you have some important decisions to make going forward.
There are theories about how we landed in this particular era of extremes, and most are rooted in the significant changes that have impacted both how we live and how we invest. At the top of the list are globalization, automation, and the largest aging population in history (yet another “historical” to add to the list). It’s said that the most dangerous words in investing are, “it’s different this time,” yet one has to wonder if, in fact, it really is different this time. Not just because of the historical market highs. After all, there always has been and always will be a new market high waiting around the corner. What’s different today is the sheer number and confluence of these extreme highs and lows—and their duration. It’s a situation no investor has experienced before, which can make these waters feel pretty daunting. History repeats itself, and investment strategies are largely built on that conviction. But what do we do when it doesn’t? When history fails to repeat itself, how can investors plan for tomorrow with confidence that they are positioned to protect their assets and gain a reasonable level of yield?
The first step is to recognize that, at least in many ways, the investment landscape really is different this time around. All you have to do is look at the numbers to be sure of that fact. And the catalysts I mentioned before—globalization, automation, and the aging population—aren’t going anywhere. If anything, the impact of each will only grow as time moves on. What that means is that there’s no way to predict what’s coming next. The only thing we know for certain is that predictability is a thing of the past (if it ever really existed at all). The result: you need to approach your portfolio differently than you ever have before.
Your goal, of course, is to find return given a risk tolerance. Current yield is an important part of total return and getting it is an elusive proposition in today’s market. If, like many people, you’re less than confident that the four major sectors that currently drive the equities market—healthcare, discretionary, tech, and financial—are poised to continue to rise at even close to recent rates, it may be wise to seek out alternatives to help drive yield without adding more risk to the equation.
But if alternatives are the wise path forward, which alternatives are the best options?
Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Business Development Companies (BDCs), and energy stocks, traditionally the favored “non-correlated alternatives,” defied expectations when the stock market crashed in 2008, inconveniently revealing high correlations just as the equities market began its freefall. Anyone who was invested in these alternatives at the time knows all too well the devastating impact “non-correlated investments” can have on a portfolio, especially when they fail to do their job when it matters most.
Luckily, there is one alternative that can be counted on to remain uncorrelated to the traditional financial markets and, ultimately, deliver that precious yield: life insurance-based investments. And because this asset is literally built on one of the irreversible catalysts of change, the aging Baby Boomer population, owning life insurance may in fact be the ideal alternative to help investors generate non-correlated returns, regardless of where the market turns next. Even better, these investments typically deliver those returns with very low volatility.
What makes life insurance different is that, unlike typical alternative vehicles, secondary life insurance returns aren’t based on the economy. Instead, they are inherently non-correlated because returns are based solely on the longevity of the individual insureds.
As much as we would all love for the bull market to continue on its merry way, one thing history does tell us even today is that a bear market will come. It’s only a matter of when. As you strive to hedge your portfolios and prepare for the inevitable, life insurance-based investments are one tool that can help you achieve the three things you need most: diversification, low volatility, and yield.
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