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How Advisors Can Best Serve ‘Modern’ Families

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As family structures in the U.S. have changed significantly over recent decades, so too have the financial concerns of new family configurations.

Only 19.6% of U.S. households today represent married heterosexual couples with children, compared to 40.3% of such traditional families in 1970, according to a new report from Allianz.

Today’s modern family structures create unique pressures that require new approaches to serving each family’s own financial needs.

In a white paper released this week, Allianz shows how financial professionals may better serve the unique financial needs of not only traditional families, but also six different types of modern families.

Though different in many ways, all these family groups share some needs in common:

  • 51% believed they were on track to achieve their financial goals
  • 76% worried about running out of money in retirement
  • 43% had worked with a financial professional
  • In general, modern families reported feeling less financially secure than traditional families.

The white paper is based on findings from Allianz’s LoveFamilyMoney study, conducted online in January 2014 with some 4,500 respondents ages 35 to 65 with a household income of $50,000 or more.

Traditional Families

The study defined the traditional family as two opposite-sex adults with at least one child under age 21 living in the household.

The study found that only 33% of this family type was likely to be working with an advisor on financial strategies and retirement income planning.

At the same time, 61% of respondents in this category were likely to consider a financial advisor’s services worth the expense.

Families in this group were relatively well off and, according to the paper, may provide an opportunity to tell other similarly situated couples about their experience working with an advisor.

This is not a given, however. Recent research showed that affluent investors did not necessarily refer their service providers to their friends and family, making it incumbent on the advisor to make this happened more often.

Multigenerational Families

Multigenerational families have three or more generations living in the same household, including children and a parent or grandparent.

Respondents in this configuration reported having not enough money or too much debt. An advisor could help them form a basic financial strategy to identify short- and long-term goals.

Saving for education and unexpected expenses is very important to this group, the study found.

These families may need help balancing conflicting financial priorities. As well, because of more complex caregiving responsibilities, they may welcome having someone else help them take control of their finances.

Single-Parent Families

Single-parent families comprise one unmarried adult with at least one child under age 18 living in the household the majority of the time, and no other adults in residence.

According to the study, 45% of respondents in this category said college funding assistance would motivate them to develop and execute a long-term financial strategy.

The vast majority of single-parent respondents reported that they had access to a retirement plan at work. A financial professional could help them find other ways to save for retirement.

More than half of these families said they wanted to become debt free, and so may need help developing a financial strategy that balances all of the household needs.

Life insurance is critical to single-parent families. An advisor can offer to conduct a policy review to help determine whether their current coverage is adequate.

Same-Sex Couple Families

For purposes of the study, this grouping is defined as a married or unmarried couple of the same gender living together, regardless of whether children are present.

The study found that 48% of these families were likely to work with a financial professional, but because their needs may be legally complex, it said, they should also work with a CPA or lawyer who specializes in planning for same-sex couples.

Same-sex couple families prioritize retirement planning, and are likelier than other family types to depend on IRA assets. They are also most likely to own an annuity.

Advisors should note that these families may have a greater need than other families for secured retirement solutions to allay concerns about retirement funding.

Blended Families

These families are defined as parents, either married or unmarried, who are living together with someone of the opposite sex and with a child or stepchild from a previous relationship in the household.

The study found this grouping was least likely to have worked with a financial professional; at the same time, 35% said they would be open to the idea.

Thirty-six percent of respondents without a financial professional said the main thing they wanted from a financial advisor was a plan for saving money.

Among those using a financial professional, 53% said planning for and managing retirement accounts was their chief requirement from their advisor.

Older Parent/Young Children Families

In this configuration, at least one parent is older than 40 and at least one child in the same household is under five.

Nearly half of respondents in this group said saving for their children’s education motivated them to develop and execute a long-term financial plan.

They also reported needing help with retirement planning. Seventy-two percent listed a non-IRA retirement plan at work as a source of income in retirement.

Thirty-four percent of these families who did not work with a financial professional said they would be open to doing so, and the same percentage said they most wanted help setting up a plan for saving money.

Boomerang Families

Boomerang families comprise opposite-sex couples ages 40 to 65, married or living together, with at least one child age 21 to 35 who left home and then returned to live with his or her parents.

Only 14% of respondents in this group said they had set a deadline for their child to move out.

The white paper said a financial advisor could help these clients ensure that taking care of adult children does not negatively affect their retirement income.

Forty percent of these families said saving for retirement was a priority, and 49% expressed concern about having a comfortable retirement.

More than half of boomerang families also said they wanted to be debt free and to get help with managing their investment portfolio.

— Read “What Advisors Should Know About 80% of American Families” on ThinkAdvisor.