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The Top 3 Errors Aging Clients Make with Their Finances


With 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day, no wonder there is so much talk about retirement. You may be planning busily to get your clients a stable income and keep the portfolio on track. But besides advice on how to “have a secure retirement” and “maintain your lifestyle” there’s some important information too few are taking about. That’s the retirement-era mistakes people make that are pretty much guaranteed to leave their families in a stressful mess no matter how well you manage their finances. Long experience here at and has revealed much about retired older clients. We hear about what your aging clients do and don’t do to make life stressful for their adult children.  Here are what we call the Top Three of numerous errors aging clients make that you can at least remind them to avoid. Maybe you don’t get too far into their personal lives and relationships with their adult children, but we think you should go farther than is traditional for you to do. Their financial safety is at stake.

Mistake Number One: They never discuss finances with their spouses or adult kids. It’s private, they think.

The problem with this is that they’re not going to live forever. Family members need to know where the funds are, what you’re managing and what to do when the patriarch or matriarch becomes impaired or dies. Most people do suffer health declines as they age and millions will develop dementia. What then? You can’t take direction from a client who is too incapacitated to make a decision about finances. Encourage family meetings. Persuade your older clients of the necessity to communicate about finances so you can rely on a surrogate decision maker when or if your client loses mental capacity. You need to take leadership on this if the client doesn’t do it. The family needs to be prepared or suffer extreme stress when things go wrong for the aging parent.

Mistake Number Two: They believe they’ll never fall for a scam. They’re way too smart for that.

Very smart and capable folks get taken by scammers every day. In fact, some of your experienced and capable clients develop Alzheimer’s disease and can cover it up for a long time. But they lose financial decision-making capacity early in the disease process when other functions seem fine. Impaired people are more vulnerable than ever. You need to involve your client and family in awareness of the latest scams and fraud targeting seniors. Make it your business to give them information and links to good resources like the AARP Fraud Watch Network. They need to be aware of telephone scams, ID theft, and Internet thieves. When you protect their money, you protect your fees. If your client gets taken by a scam, chances are their family will have to help clean up the mess.

Mistake Number Three: They think they don’t need to plan for long-term care. They’ll never need it of course.

This mistake involves both you as a financial professional as well as retirement age clients in denial about ever needing expensive help for disabling conditions. For your part, your industry is inaccurately providing statistics about how much a retired couple, age 65 will need for “out of pocket medical expenses” and you guide clients accordingly. That is not fair to them because it is not truthful. Out of pocket medical expenses are not limited to the average cost of Medicare supplemental insurance and non-covered prescription costs. That’s what you may have relied on. Wrong. How about hearing aids, dental work, help at home from an agency worker, adult day centers and the many other aspects of long-term needs? Educate yourself first and then advise your clients. Long-term care could otherwise bankrupt them. And the family will bear the burden of caring for them then.

Perhaps your viewpoint is limited to the funds you manage and the income targets you and the client have decided upon. But there is far more to the retirement picture than that. We encourage you to take a deeper dive into retirement planning and gain a realistic view of how you can help clients avoid these big mistakes.

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