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Wealth Protection a Growing Priority for Investors: Lincoln Financial

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Investors’ moods are changing thanks to the unpredictable financial markets of the past several years. Many now feel the need to protect wealth and not just accumulate it, according to a recent study by Lincoln Financial Group on Monday.

The majority of Americans in the latest Measuring Optimism, Outlook and Direction (M.O.O.D.) of America Survey said that protecting their wealth is more important today than it was five years ago.

Regardless of age, gender or assets, 58% of respondents reported a strong need for wealth protection, and the significance of protecting wealth increased with age when income accumulation typically slows — 72% of those 69 and older cited the importance of protecting wealth compared to 43% of the younger baby boomer generation, or those age 50 to 60.

Only 15% of respondents said they felt “very prepared” to protect their wealth.

As Lincoln Financial CMO Rich Aneser told ThinkAdvisor, these findings were a validation of the post-crisis mindset.

In the past, things like market growth, asset accumulation, asset allocation and portfolio diversification drove the advice relationship and helped investors get where they wanted to go.

“Post financial crisis, that obviously changed dramatically,” said Aneser during a visit to ThinkAdvisor’s New York office. “Then you look at the research and you see that there’s a different set of issues that people are concerned about. They’re concerned about longevity of income, they’re concerned about health care and long-term care costs, they’re concerned about inflation, they’re concerned about taxes … and they’re concerned about market risk.”

The top three concerns that were reported as a key to protecting wealth that came out of the study were running out of money or income, future health care expenses, and the impact of inflation.

This new set of pressing issues points to a change in need of advice, Aneser said. Lincoln’s view is that financial advisors need to take a comprehensive, goal-based approach to planning for their clients.

“You’re seeing the need for this comprehensive, outcome-based advice because the issues people have aren’t benchmarks or a number,” Aneser told ThinkAdvisor. Instead, Aneser said, investors are asking “Will I get to the goals that I have?”

Whether that goal is retirement, financial stability, financial security, getting kids through college, taking care of yourself or taking care of your parents, Aneser added, “you want to have a check-the-box on the outcome.”

“The traditional approaches of asset accumulation and growth aren’t going to be the only ways to get there,” he said.

Teaming up with a financial advisor who can offer wealth protection expertise has become crucial for investors, as the study found that those who work with a financial advisor are twice as likely to feel more in control of protecting their wealth.

Aneser looks to himself as a very real, tangible example to what outcome-based advice looks like.

“You take a 47-year-old with three kids, 13, 11 and 7. In 10 years, those kids are going to be going to college, right?” he said, adding that the goal here would be for that college education to be fully funded and protected. “Real advice and outcomes-based advice looks into the fact that, that individual may have a mother or mother-in-law who’s 75 years old … and in the next 10 years the probability of her needing long-term care is extremely high. So, do you want to be writing a big check to a nursing home at the same time you’re writing a big check to a university?” Outcome-based advice, Aneser said, would look at potential ideas like taking out a MoneyGuard policy on the mother-in-law to cover that long-term care cost so nothing disrupts the college plan.

“To me, that’s a perfect example of outcome-based advice,” he said. Adding, “That’s a personal story, by the way. That’s my story.”

Lincoln helps advisors see those types of opportunities and strategies, Aneser added.

“We see those challenges, opportunities and risks and how do you look at those and bring new approaches so advisors can solve those potential problems,” he said. “I’ve always thought, well, I think there’s great opportunity. We tend to think of things and the challenges and problems as, there’s ‘longevity risk.’ [‘Longevity risk’] is a phrase we have in the industry, and shouldn’t it be ‘longevity opportunity’?”

Results from the 2014 M.O.O.D. of America survey developed by Lincoln Financial Group and Whitman Insight Strategies are based on online research conducted in late March among 2,352 adults 18 and older across the United States. The 2014 M.O.O.D. of America Survey is the third in a series where the company has polled Americans on various topics, including financial attitudes and behaviors.

Check out Americans Would Rather Talk About Sex or Death Than Retirement on ThinkAdvisor.


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