Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several ways that advisors can help their clients stay on track with their retirement and other goals, according to Cathy Clauson, senior vice president of retirement services at AssetMark.
There have been a lot of changes thrown at advisors recently, she told ThinkAdvisor in a recent phone interview, as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act came along when the ink was barely dry on the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (Secure) Act.
On top of that, advisors are “also dealing with a lot of people who all of a sudden maybe [are] out of work or having crises in their home life that they’re trying to deal with, as well as keeping their own businesses alive — and then” they also certainly have the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest rules that went into effect June 30 to deal with, she said.
“I’ve been in the advisory space for well over 20 years now,” and this is a lot of change in a short amount of time, she says.
“I think, from the advisor’s perspective,” there is a challenge in “connecting all of those dots because [the various issues] feel pretty disparate, but I think if you put them all together, they can make a decent story for the advisor” right now, she said.
Amid all this change, here are three things advisors should keep in mind right now.
1. Keep the communication lines open.
One thing that advisors should definitely not do right now is be afraid to contact their clients, Clauson said.
For one thing, “you don’t always know if you have 100% share of your client’s wallet” when it comes to their assets, she pointed out.
For example, the Internal Revenue Service announced June 23 that anyone who already took a required minimum distribution in 2020 from certain retirement accounts now had the opportunity to roll those funds back into a retirement account following the CARES Act RMD waiver for 2020, she noted.
Even if you are not managing a client’s RMDs, you can reach out and educate a client to make sure they know that if they don’t need the money they took out earlier this year, they can now put it back this year, she said.
Don’t assume that the advisor who deals with a client’s RMDs was aware of that change and, even if they did, that they then contacted the client to make sure they were aware of the change also, she noted. If you contact that client and it turns out he or she was not aware of the change, that client may decide to shift all their assets to you, she said.