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9 Ways to Get Clients Thinking About the Future

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Act, don’t react. Be ahead of the curve. We don’t keep up with the Joneses because we are the Joneses.

Many clients probably want to be thought leaders. Another way to prove your value is to get them thinking ahead.

1. How involved do they want to be in the investing process?

There’s been an industry sea change over the past few decades towards managed money and fee based accounts. At the same time, investing has become a spectator sport. Lots of clients watch CNBC.

Sound them out about their desired level of involvement. The client who always agrees when you call with stock ideas might be comfortable moving to managed money and outsourcing to the professionals. The client who calls saying “I’ve got this great idea” sounds like they want to be an active trader. Are you being responsive?

2. When would they realistically like to retire?

The pandemic has reminded us of our own mortality. Your client might like to move their retirement date forward.

You won’t know unless you ask them. What would need to happen to make that possible?

3. It’s 2021. Have they made retirement plan contributions yet?

You’ve heard “Time in the markets, not timing the market.”

Get this year’s funds put to work as early as possible.

4. What will they do with their annual bonus?

It gets paid the same time each year. If you wait for a call, you might learn their bonus paid for a new kitchen. You have been talking financial independence with your client.

Have a plan for putting that bonus money to work. Have ideas that get your client excited.

5. What are their plans for their tax refund?

According to The Washington Post, about 73% of Americans filing taxes received refunds last year. The average amount might be in the low thousands, but this money should be put to work.

If you have a good idea, suggest the client add more money to “round up.”

6. Does their will need any attention?

It’s a grim thought, but the pandemic has made us realize no one lives forever. Put another way, like some bonds, we human all have an ERP or Early Redemption Provision. Having your will in order brings peace of mind.

Does your client have a will? If so, is their executor still the best person for the job? If they are charitable, is the list of their charitable beneficiaries current?

7. Have they taken RMDs if necessary?

Older clients are required to remove assets from retirement accounts on a schedule. A temporary halt on required minimum distributions ended this year. You might have some, but not all of your older clients’ assets.

If this is a year when a withdrawal is required, has enough been withdrawn? There are penalties for noncompliance.

8. Where do their children want to go to college?

They grow up so fast. College tuition increases faster than inflation. You don’t want to be in the position of earning now to pay tuition bills now.

Clients might have set up college savings plans. Are they getting actively funded?

9. When is the next wedding?

How old are your client’s children? They might see college as the last, great expense as their children head off into the working world. Lets not forget about weddings. Parents are often expected to pay most if not all of the cost.

Clients might think wedding costs have stayed frozen at the rate they paid years ago. They are wrong. 

Now you have clients thinking and planning ahead! They should feel more comfortable. They have you to thank!

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