Aging Clients? Understanding the Secrecy About Finances
Have you ever had a stubborn older client who told you he’d never talk about his assets with anyone but you?
He doesn’t think he’ll ever need help in his life and he wants to be in charge. When you suggest a family meeting to let someone else know what to do in case he ever became ill and unable to communicate, he shuts you down. This is all too common.
A consistent obstacle to communication we see in our work is the resistance of the older person to discuss finances with anyone, including their adult children or other heirs. The Great Depression led to secrecy about finances for many, as fortunes were lost sometimes overnight and once proud people became impoverished. Talking openly about money was just not done for those who grew up in this time of widespread devastating and sometimes life-ending financial losses. To this segment of our population, openly discussing money was considered rude, unseemly. Some of these Depression-era survivors remain reluctant to tell anyone in their families where their accounts are, what their assets are and what they want done with their assets in the event of incapacity.
Presumably when you have a long-term relationship with your client, she trusts you and trusts your judgment. That gives you leverage. You may know more about her finances than her family, her friends or anyone in her life. You are charged with the task of long range planning and you look ahead. In doing so, it is up to you to urge your client, gently, repeatedly and with ongoing persistence that she find someone she can trust to appoint to protect her if she has an accident, falls ill, or can’t speak for herself.
Sometimes persistence pays. The power of your relationship is a tool to persuade your client to come around. This is not a situation to ignore just because your client resists. The older she is, the more there is at risk. Anything can happen to her health at any time.
If your client resists, we encourage you to repeat your requesting a week or a month. Do it in a tactful way and paint a verbal picture for her of what would happen if she were no longer able to speak for herself. Tell her how frustrating it would be to have to refer her account to your legal department for a decision about getting a court involved if she could no longer communicate. Tell her how upset that would make you feel. Express your own concerns and make it your problem.
We hope that every single person in your book of business has an appointed trusted other for you to contact. You may well need that and it can be up to you to urge your client to take care of that most important piece of legal business, the Durable Power of Attorney, if she has not done this. Diminished capacity can sneak up on your client and you’ll need help.
It’s a new role you have with the oldest clients. They are living longer than they thought they would and with longevity come the risks of impairment in all ways.
An Advisor's Guide to Helping Women Become Savvy Investors
Today, more women than ever are involved in managing their personal and household finances. In a recent study, nearly half of the women surveyed (44%) stated that they are solely responsible for their household financial decisions, compared to 35% of men1. But the study wasn’t all good news. While women may be taking the lead when it comes to their finances, they also reported that they are not confident in doing so. In fact, in every financial category included in the survey, men reported much greater confidence than women. Where was the biggest gap? You guessed it: investing.
For advisors, this presents a challenge and an opportunity. There is a 90% likelihood that a woman will be financially self-reliant at some point in her life due to divorce, becoming a widow, or choosing to marry later in life or not at all2. By taking steps to help your female clients become confident, savvy investors, you’ll not only be more effective at serving in the best interests of these women and their families, but you’ll also be able to build much stronger, more trusted relationships to help ensure each family’s assets remain in your care for decades to come.
Follow these five steps to help your female clients invest with greater confidence:
1. Urge every woman to put her financial needs first.
Women do have a weakness when it comes to planning for the future, but it has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge, skill, or smarts. Their primary weakness is a willingness to put others’ needs first. This is a huge mistake when it comes to planning for the future. Investing for retirement simply can’t wait until the kids are grown or aging parents no longer need care. In fact, based on average life expectancies, women should plan to accumulate enough funds to last at least 20 years after retirement. The following chart illustrates the power of compounding based on an 8% rate of return to help bring that point home:
This hypothetical example assumes an annual 8% rate of return and does not take into account income taxes or investment fees and expenses. This example is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. An investor’s actual return is not likely to be consistent from year to year, and there is no guarantee that a specific rate of return will be achieved.
2. Educate women about the power of investing.
Security about any topic is rooted in confidence and knowledge. Educating your female clients about investment basics can help drive more confident decisions and more positive long-term outcomes. From the basics of compounding to the nuts and bolts of researching options and understanding the pros and cons of different asset classes, make it your job to help every client understand what she is buying—and why.
3. Dive into the details of asset allocation.
Asset allocation is by far the largest determinant of a portfolio’s success—even more important than the individual securities selected and timing of an investment. This is critical information for your client to understand as she pursues her financial goals.
4. Discuss how her investment strategy needs to evolve over time.
Part of every client’s financial education should be to understand how financial needs and goals change with each stage of life stage. Because a shorter investment time horizon creates greater vulnerability to market volatility, she needs to understand the impact of shifting a portion of her investment portfolio to more income-oriented investments as she moves closer to retirement. This Life Stages Guide can help you paint a clear picture of how allocation strategies need to evolve to fit her changing needs.
5. Be sure she’s covering all the financial bases.
Smart investing is vital, but missteps in other areas of financial planning can thwart even the best investment plan. Offer every client a basic planning checklist that includes these three important steps:
- Focus on the big picture. Organize your important financial papers and schedule an annual review of your investment strategy with your advisor. Regularly monitor your net worth—including your assets (all investments and savings) and liabilities (mortgage, credit cards, and other debts) to be sure you’re always moving toward your end goal of a secure retirement.
- Pay down any outstanding debt. Debt reduces your net worth, threatens your financial security today, and reduces your ability to invest for the future. Do whatever you can to minimize debt, and build an emergency fund to help pay for any unexpected expenses.
- Make estate planning a priority. Once a year, review your will and your beneficiary designations for every account to be sure they continue to reflect your wishes. If you have children under 18, work with your advisor or estate planner to establish a trust and select a trustee to ensure your assets are managed for the benefit of your children.
As a trusted advisor, make it your mission to provide your female clients with the education and guidance they need to become savvy investors and make the smart, educated financial decisions. By doing so, you can help every woman you work with not only enhance her financial security, but also gain the confidence to take greater control of every aspect of her financial life.
Click here to learn more about IndexIQ.
 Survey conducted by Regions Financial Corp. in partnership with Vanderbilt University, 2015.
 The Simple Dollar, “Guide to Financial Independence for Women,” 2014.
Disclosure: The information and opinions herein are for general information use only. The opinions reflect those of the writers but not necessarily those of New York Life Investment Management LLC (NYLIM). NYLIM does not guarantee their accuracy or completeness, nor does New York Life Investment Management LLC assume any liability for any loss that may result from the reliance by any person upon any such information or opinions. Such information and opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security or as personalized investment advice.
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