Trust is the foundation for all relationships. Marriages, friendships, coworkers, or simply acquaintances all have to have a baseline level of trust in order to operate properly. Your relationships with your clients are no different. Money is an incredibly precious asset that needs to be managed properly, so it stands to reason that your clients trust you to do just that.
When your clients trust you to manage their wealth, they aren’t just asking you to put it into the right accounts or budget things appropriately, they are asking you to take action that is necessary to make their investments last. If you can spot things that will stretch their money further, they are trusting you to tell them.
Trust leads to deeper conversations
It should come as no surprise then that health and wealth go hand in hand. Medical costs are exploding and one of the easiest ways to make sure your clients have enough for the future is to focus on their health. Reducing the amount of medical intervention they will need in the future or the number of years they will need in assisted living is the number one way to prolong their retirement funds. If you know a way to reduce these expenses, they trust you’ll share that information.
These conversations, however, can be hard sometimes. It’s not easy to tell people to change their lifestyles or tell them to see a doctor, but they are the right course of action if you are serious about getting your clients money to last. Talking to your clients about their health can be as simple as asking them if they are having an annual physical or discussing their genetic risks for familial diseases. If your clients have blatantly unhealthy lifestyles or are operating on poor information about their health, find a way to tactfully advise them in a different direction, using money as a catalyst for the conversation.
Remember, it’s all about trust. You wouldn’t be doing your job properly if you were avoiding conversations, even if they are tough, that would save your clients money in the long run. They trust you with their wealth, repay their trust with honesty.
The fact that the world is getting older should come as no surprise to you. There are already over half a billion people over the age of 65 and that demographic won’t be shrinking anytime soon.
To stay ahead of the curve and to future-proof your practice, your firm needs to start accommodating this demographic shift now. Longevity planning will be a crucial part of business moving forward and for the foreseeable future as life expectancy continues to rise.
How to incorporate longevity planning into your practice
Plan for women.
Women makeup 50 percent of the population but generally outlive men and end up being the decision maker for a large percent of medical spending. While your financial planning principals can generally be agnostic to gender, there’s no doubt that you need to be giving serious consideration to the likelihood of a woman outliving her husband and what that will entail for their future. How will pensions be affected? What about her children? Even smaller things such as taste in vehicles or living situations can be influenced by a single woman versus a married couple. Keep things like this in mind as you are strategizing about your client’s future wealth.
Don’t fear new technology.
As automation, software, and artificial intelligence rapidly progress, you will need to understand how these new technologies will affect your business. Generally speaking, most of them will be positive and likely take some work off your plate. Keep an eye out for these kinds of advancements in the financial planning sector as they may make your job easier and deliver better, more personalized results to your clients.
Pay attention to how retirement is changing.
There’s no shortage of retirement tropes out there. Playing golf, traveling, visiting grandkids, but that might not be the reality for all. Trends change and there’s no doubt that retirement today will be different from retirement ten years from now. While some of these are personal preference, some are influenced by external forces. The government often has a large impact on how retirement will be spent. Be sure to keep tabs on news regarding policy or trends that will influence your clients’ wealth down the road.
Pay attention to big pharma.
If there’s one parallel industry that is invested in the elderly as you, it’s pharmaceutical companies. These companies pour billions of dollars into market research that you can take advantage of. Watch these companies closely as they will be changing strategies to capitalize on the aging market. Not all of their moves will be valuable to you, but if you pay attention, some of them will have a direct impact on your clients’ future which means you’ll be prepared to advise confidently on their assets.
These strategies will enable you to put a deeper focus on longevity planning for your clients along with their retirement plan. When used with personalized solutions such as HALO, you can truly future-proof your business.
Longevity financial planning is a hot topic, no wonder, considering a sizeable portion of the population is projected to live until their 80s if not longer. This begs the question, will your clients outlive their money?
If you plan accordingly, your clients can ensure that their money lasts as long as they want and need it to. However, if your clients want their money to last, they first need to prioritize and create a strategy for the goals for their wealth.
There are almost infinite questions you can ask your clients regarding money in their later years, but there are a few key subjects you’ll want to touch on to make sure they are thinking about their future appropriately.
First and foremost, a discussion around long-term care is paramount. Longevity without some type of long-term care is unusual. It’s almost impossible to set a framework for wealth management in the later decades without talking about how, where, and with what assistance, your clients will age. Solutions such as HALO can help put individualized numbers behind the long-term care conversation.
Once your clients feel comfortable around their plan for long-term care, then you can move on to incidentals like recreation, necessities, transportation and the like. This will paint a comprehensive picture about how your clients will plan for long life, what roadblocks they may face along the way, and what kind of unforeseen expenses they may encounter.
This isn’t to say that planning for other expenses outside of long-term care will be a walk in the park. Housing and transportation, in their own right, can eat into the budget of the elderly fairly quickly. However, it’s far easier to plan everything around long-term care than it is to shoehorn it into an existing budget and try to find money at the end.
Data + conversation are the foundation of longevity planning
Everyone knows they can’t live forever, but that won’t stop them from trying. If you are proactive, your clients’ wealth will be protected as they age and they will have the security of knowing that their finances will be with them until the end. Using personalized data and having difficult conversations early can ensure that your clients are prepared for longer life.
It can seem as though your profession is centered around one thing: money. Day in and day out you are in the weeds of figuring out how people can best optimize their wealth moving forward. It’s very rewarding to put strategies in place around expenses and incomes, but when the conversation turns to longevity financial planning, there are aspects that need to be considered outside the realm of traditional financial planning.
Money is Only the Beginning
It’s true that all tangential planning aspects will have some root in money, but they may not be obvious. Researching and planning for the lesser known challenges of longevity is important in painting a comprehensive picture of financial planning.
It’s fairly straightforward to say that your client will have “x” income and “x” expenditures. These often include things like health care, food, housing, etc. But have you or your clients’ non-obvious expenditures?
Transportation, for instance, is a major expense in the lives of an elderly person. If they don’t or are unable to drive, that leaves them reliant on others, especially if there are health concerns. In the same vein, questions should be asked if downsizing to a more walkable neighborhood would be a better option and if it affordable. Will their current housing need to be modified for lack of mobility or health complications? Will loneliness from aging in place ultimately lead to more financial expenditures than you were anticipating?
Asking the Right Questions
There are almost endless questions that you could ask similar to the above examples. How many of these questions have you asked your clients recently? If you have trouble getting the conversation started, solutions such as HALO can jumpstart the process by giving clients a way to answer critical questions before they come to meet with you.
Your role for your clients is to plan for their future. They are, ostensibly, paying you to think of the questions that they have not thought of themselves. You can start getting more information by asking key questions such as those in the HALO assessment, but in addition to asking questions, try reframing your thought process around clients that live longer and how you can best make those years comfortable and fulfilling.
Planning for longevity is really planning for quality of life. Money is simply the tool we use to make that happen. When you approach your client’s future from a perspective of empathy instead of dollars and cents, you’ll be able to create a more thorough, fulfilling plan for your clients’ wealth. This will give them the best chance of enjoying their last years and give you the satisfaction of a job well done.
It’s hard to deny that we live in the most prosperous time in human history. Great strides have been made in economics, technology, and medicine that are allowing people to live longer than ever before. This trend doesn’t show signs of stopping, either. Medical advancements married with new technology will push the boundaries of aging. Some out there even theorize that the first person to live to age 1000 has already been born.
This, simply put, can be a nightmare for financial planners. Today, and more importantly in the next few decades, we will likely surpass traditional aging benchmarks having people live well into their 90s or 100s. This, coupled with decreasing purchasing power and inflation, makes financial planning for longevity a serious issue.
How to plan for longer lifespans
The secret to planning for extended longevity is relatively simple: over prepare. No one will regret dying with enough money in the bank, likewise, no one will wish that they would have spent more of their money earlier in their retirement. If you over-prepare, there’s little downside and you will have the peace of mind that your clients have the best shot at living a fulfilling retirement.
When making your lifespan estimates, tack on extra years just in case. If your clients have enough money to comfortably make it to 90, find a way to stretch it to 100. If clients think that they will depart somewhere in their 80s because of family history, encourage them to consider the advancements of medical technology and plan for living longer.
It doesn’t have to be a guessing game
More important than simply guessing at how long a client may live, however, is finding solutions and technologies that can provide you with a customized, accurate projection of your clients’ projected lifespan. Up and coming software solutions, such as HALO, provide a clear and accurate report for clients on their projected lifespan and the out-of-pocket care costs associated with their projected longevity.
Many people require significant medical interventions to support their day to day lifestyles as they age. This leads to cost overruns or unplanned expenses that can drain the purses of retirees fairly quickly. Using solutions such as HALO and accounting for inflation can help you plan for any additional contingency funds above and beyond what they are already planning for.
Longevity will be one of the hardest changes for financial advisors to deal with in the coming years. The nature of money, the economy and retirement will change dramatically in the coming decades. The best thing that you can do today is to over prepare, overanalyze, and work toward giving your clients a strategy that plans for long life and high medical costs.
There’s an ancient English saying: “Time and tide wait for no man.” While the origins are unknown, the point is clear. No one has the power to stop the tide and certainly, no one can stop time from moving forward.
This might be patently obvious at your firm, you may be dealing with several clients (if not a majority) that are getting closer to retirement or are already beyond retirement. It’s not the age that matters but the complications associated with it that make financial planning a little more difficult. Today we’ll talk about three key issues around aging that affect your clients’ financial future.
1. Issues left unsettled
It’s human nature to put things off until the future. In economics, it’s often referred to as “temporal discounting” that is the idea that we find it more difficult to assign rewards to a future date, but value the here and now very highly. While this generally isn’t a big deal for younger, healthier clients, it can be disastrous for clients who have aged. Sudden death, terminal diseases, or severe complications from illness are far more likely for your older clients. These can have massive impacts on financial planning and need to be taken into account sooner than later. Work with your clients to make sure that if a life-threatening or life-changing situation were to arise suddenly, their finances would be safe and there is a plan in place to deal with them should they be incapacitated.
2. Longevity and the costs associated with it
The speed of technological and medical advancement is astounding from a historical perspective. As with anything in our world, however, it doesn’t necessarily come cheap. People, generally, want to live as long as possible. This desire, while perfectly normal, is an issue for those who are unprepared. As your clients age, the likelihood of using life-extending systems rises. Try to have a frank conversation with them to see if they are prepared to spend the money necessary for this infrastructure. If so, work with them to come up with a detailed plan about how it will be paid for and who will be in charge of managing it if they are unable.
Beyond paying for life-extending treatments, it’s important that clients have a plan in place for living longer and the cumulative expenses that come with daily living. Living longer is something a lot of people strive for, but don’t necessarily plan for financially.
3. Mental faculties and the ability to manage money
Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive failures are not uncommon as clients age. These horrible diseases rob people of so much more than just their memory. While it’s not guaranteed that your client will succumb to one of these diseases, it is certain that their vulnerability rises as they age. Protections can be put in place while they are in a sturdy state-of-mind to safeguard their assets from scammers, unwitting or malicious family members, or themselves. Explore these options so you and your client can have a hedge on Father Time.
As with all clients, try to imagine yourself in their situation and ask “What would I do to best protect my assets.” This will give you a good level of empathy for their situation and help you collaborate on the best outcome for all parties. To get a better understanding of the unique longevity timeline and financial needs of your clients, schedule a HALO consultation today.