As we observe another Halloween, many of us plan to dress up with our children in scary costumes, or watch classic horror movies with friends or family. A really spooky horror flick plays on our fear of the unknown.
However, financial advisors shouldn’t wait until Halloween to help clients confront their fears about the unknown. According to a recent Fidelity Investments study, only 18 percent of Americans have a written retirement plan in place. Perhaps the fear of finding out they aren’t on track to achieve a financially secure retirement, or achieve other long-term goals, prevents investors from taking the first step toward crafting a financial plan.
Focus on Smaller Goals to Erase the Fear
Retirement and education planning, in addition to being unglamorous, can also be quite overwhelming. Starting the planning conversation with these topics can be a recipe for scaring and distracting people at the very beginning—and make it even harder to convince them of the importance of planning.
Advisors can try to make the conversation less spooky by beginning with a single item, such as a new automobile, a vacation, or a beach house, that a client may want to save for in the near future. Discuss how clients can cut unnecessary expenses and modify spending habits in order to obtain these less overwhelming purchases sooner than they anticipated. Then, advisors can begin the planning conversation by outlining a financial plan showing how clients can save for these things. Once clients begin planning with their advisors for things that they perceive as more interesting and less overwhelming, it can be much easier to open the door to conversations about saving for their retirement or their children’s education.
Help Clients Feel in Control
When clients feel uncertain about their financial future, they are more likely to be intimidated by the planning process. To ease some of the uncertainty, advisors can reframe the planning conversation to focus on a client’s loved ones.
Advisors can start the conversation by helping clients understand gaps that exist in their financial pictures, and then show them how detailed financial plans can close them—and create stability for their families. Once clients see a comprehensive demonstration of how comprehensive planning can establish a more secure financial future for their loved ones, they can become much more receptive to the planning process.
Harness Cutting-Edge Planning Technology
Advisors can further simplify the financial planning process by incorporating innovative planning technology solutions into their practices. Modern planning applications can help advisors create more detailed plans for clients which account for needs and protection for themselves, and their loved ones, in the event of a disability or death, such as long-term care and survivor income.
Advanced planning tools also allow advisors to illustrate real-time progress toward long-term goals such as retirement, and enable clients to track this progress—and view outcomes from different scenarios—using client portals. In addition, clients can track progress toward major purchase goals, such as purchasing a new car, going on a vacation, or saving for wedding expenses, through client portals, where they can work with advisors to monitor and change their spending habits in order to earn these purchases. In this way, advisors can utilize cutting-edge planning technology to help clients gain a sense of control over their financial future.
Only when clients confront their fears about financial planning can they move forward with detailed plans to obtain financial security before, and during, retirement. By proactively helping clients confront, and overcome, their aversion to financial planning, advisors can demonstrate a great deal of value. After all, the knowledge that you have control over the financial future for yourselves and your loved ones, and are doing something to improve it, is priceless.
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