"You're Welcome." Little Words Can Make a Big Difference to Your Clients
“You’re welcome.” It’s a phrase that every one of us learned to say when we were young.
Not just to be polite, but to express our willingness to give something—our time, money, or thought— to someone else. But in today’s increasingly casual world, the words “you’re welcome” seem to be falling by the wayside. I’m on a personal mission to bring them back.
Say thank you to a restaurant server, and many times, the reply you’ll get is a careless, “No problem.” No problem? I hope it’s not a problem for me to pay to for my burger and beer. And by the way, as the customer, isn’t is it my call as to whether there is a problem or not? Sheesh. Say thank you to anyone—from a cashier to a banker to a close friend—and an off-handed “sure” is the likely response. The unrequited thank you is just as prevalent on radio and television: the host thanks the guest for coming on to the show, and the response is not “you’re welcome,” but “Thank YOU!” There are now billions of thank you’s out there waiting for a you’re welcome. They are figuratively starting to pile up on our streets and in our communities. Like sentences without periods, boomerangs waiting to return the unfulfilled thank you is more than an unfinished social nicety, it can be a missed opportunity. Now is the time to make a change.
As an advisor, your client relationships drive your business. If you’re guilty as charged of taking your clients’ thank yous for granted, here’s why you need to change your ways and your words:
Talking about money makes your clients vulnerable.
Amy Florian, the author of No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients Through the Toughest Times of Life, gets it. Whether your clients are coming to you in times of crisis like a divorce, death of a spouse, or financial dilemma (which Florian covers in detail), or times of opportunity like a marriage, career promotion, or inheritance, many conversations about money are charged with emotion. To help advisors avoid the trap of using language that unintentionally alienates distressed clients, she offers specific suggestions for how to respond appropriately to clients. “You’re welcome” is just the beginning when your client is in crisis, but it’s an awfully good place to start.
Your words have the power to strengthen your client relationships.
I’m no psychologist, but I know the impact that words have on my own relationships with people. If I can tell someone is taking in what I’ve said and responding with a thoughtful reply, it tells me not only that they value what I have to say, but also that they know I value what they think. By choosing your response and your words carefully, you are telling your clients that you’re really listening. Assuring them that you care about what they think and what they feel is the strongest relationship builder there is.
Careless language can be misinterpreted as careless business.
I’m not suggesting that every word you say should carry the weight of the world, or that you only use highly proper language when speaking with clients. Every client is different, and it’s important to adapt to your audience. But there’s a big difference between being welcoming and friendly, and being so casual that you appear careless. An offhand comment or careless response to a question can be translated into “You don’t take me seriously.” In many cases, your clients are entrusting you with their life savings. That’s business that should never be treated lightly.
It may sound petty, and I might sound like an old guy ranting on the demise of the English language, but details matter. Words matter. And as an advisor, paying attention to the words you speak to your clients is a critical part of your communication. Saying “You’re welcome” is another way to say, “I hear that you appreciate what I did to help.” That’s something that can be important to say, even if the words sound automatic. Even better, it opens the door for you to continue to help—and that’s what being a trusted advisor is all about.
Let’s face it: it’s hard for people to talk about money. As an advisor, it’s your job to try to make the conversation as easy as possible and to be sure your clients feel that their fears, joys, and expectations are being heard. When you’re able to help, whether that’s with a kind word or the financial guidance they need to take the next step, their “thank you” means a lot. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and fill your “You’re welcome” with the same amount of care. All those forgotten thank you’s that are piling up around us will someday thank you in the end.
Are Your Clients Failing to Plan for the Costs of Long-Term Care?
Written by: Matthew Paine
It’s been a tough few years in my family. My mother has been battling cancer for what feels like forever, and while she’s been managing her health with diet and exercise for some time, a few months ago everything changed. Her cancer had become aggressive, and chemo, which she had dreaded, was suddenly the only real option. My mother is in her late 70s, so the already brutal side effects of chemo resulted in a prolonged hospital stay that is currently at four weeks and counting. The good news is that she’s mentally strong, and she’s battling like a lion.
My dad is another story. Suffering from early-onset dementia, his ability to understand what’s happening and why my mother isn’t at home shifts from day to day. Because he’s unable to drive or care for himself (at least predictably), my siblings and I have been juggling taking care of him ourselves. It’s not an easy task, especially with jobs, children, and lives of our own to manage as well.
Like many families, none of us—my mother, my father, my siblings or myself—saw our current dilemma coming our way. Clearly we should have. My mother hasn’t been in top health for years. My dad’s condition is sure to get worse. And even if both of them were in perfect health, their age alone should have driven us to communicate better, earlier, and smarter. Despite being in the financial services industry myself, I haven’t been involved in my parents’ finances. I know they saved well for retirement, but I don’t know where they stand financially today. I don’t know what or how much insurance coverage they have. I have no idea how they plan to pay for their long-term care—or if there even is a plan.
The situation is forcing our family to get personal—and fast. Despite being careful about nearly every other aspect of our family’s financial lives, this one slipped through the cracks. We failed to plan.
Just like cancer and dementia, this failure to plan is an epidemic. And it’s only getting worse. To help your clients battle this epidemic, it’s vital that planning for long-term care become an intrinsic part of your retirement planning process. Here’s why:
Retirement planning alone isn’t sufficient.
We’ve all seen it. A client has a great retirement plan in place, and suddenly life throws an unexpected curveball. The later in life your clients get, the more likely that curveball will be the need for long-term care. According to the National Center on Caregiving, the number of people needing long-term care will hit a shocking 27 million by 2050. And according to the AARP, one in four people age 45 and over are not prepared financially if they suddenly required long-term care for an indefinite period of time. That statistic alone tells us that our efforts at planning are failing.
Long-term care costs are escalating rapidly.
According to a 2016 survey from Genworth Financial, a private nursing home room costs just over $92,000—about $7,698 a month—which is 19% more than it cost for the same care in 2011. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, lost income and benefits over a caregiver's lifetime is estimated to range from a total of $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women, or an average of $303,880—and less than 10% of that care is expected to be covered by private insurance.
Medicaid isn’t the answer.
Many people assume that public programs are the answer to long-term care, but in the case of Medicaid, a program designed to assist the poor, it is a last resort. First, while nearly everyone over age 65 has Medicare coverage, that program doesn’t cover long-term stays. That means that many people who need that coverage are forced to spend down their assets until they qualify for Medicaid. How poor must a patient be to receive benefits? In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in "countable" assets, and the patient’s spouse—called the "community spouse"—is limited to one half of the couple's joint assets up to $119,220 (in 2016) in "countable" assets. The result: even a couple who has spent a lifetime saving for a comfortable retirement can be forced to draw down nearly all of their assets before qualifying for Medicaid.
Once on Medicaid, long-term care patients lose the one thing many seniors care about most: choice. As a recipient of public assistance, patients rarely have a say in where they receive care. Whether that means being placed far from family, in a less-than-desirable facility, or even in a facility that lacks certain types of care (such as a dementia unit or other specialized care), the patient is at the whim of the state.
The good news is that even for those who feel there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, there are options that can help seniors who are struggling to pay for their post-retirement care to not only cover those rising expenses, but to do so in a way that gives them the freedom of choice. A Veteran myself, I know that VA Benefits are highly underutilized—including long-term care benefits. You can learn more about these benefits here. As well, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)’s July report Private Market Options for Financing Long-Term Care Services offers a variety of options for helping finance long-term care needs. Included in that list is the use of life insurance policies to help to fund long-term care expenses—an approach that is supported by GWG Life’s LifeCare Xchange Program.
In my own situation, I know there’s a high likelihood that my dad will eventually require skilled nursing care. I hope that as my siblings and I begin to dig into the details of my parents’ estate, we’ll find that they have indeed planned for long-term care. If that’s not the case, I’m comforted to know there are options available to help ensure Dad is not only in a facility that can meet his specialized needs, but that his new home is where our family chooses for him to be. Life may throw its curveballs, but at least Dad’s care will count as a home run.
Matthew Paine is Senior Vice President at GWG Holdings. Mr. Paine started his financial services career with AXA Advisors, developing marketing strategies for the North Central Region and building his personal practice. Since 2008, he has lead sales teams in raising capital in various assets classes ranging from the Life Insurance Secondary Market, Multi-Family Real Estate, Conservation Easements, and MBS Hedge Funds/Fund of Funds. Mr. Paine has a BA in Marketing/Management from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and holds FINRA Series 7, 24 and Series 63 licenses through Emerson Equity, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.
- 1 of 1653