What You Need to Know
- Consumers are more worried about health care costs.
- They’re more worried about the overall cost of living.
- Many wish they had a professional who could talk to them about what worries them.
There are many good reasons why financial professionals love their jobs. The opportunity to decipher the complexities of financial markets, the wide variety of tasks necessary to develop comprehensive client portfolios, and putting years of hard work and study into practice are just a few examples.
But it really all comes back to the satisfaction of helping clients achieve their financial goals.
So it may come as a surprise that one of the greatest skills a financial professional can demonstrate isn’t something technical or specialized in nature: It’s the simple act of listening.
Data from the recent Retirement Risk Readiness Study from the company I work for, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, suggests this skill is more important than ever.
The participants were 1,000 U.S. individuals, ages 25 and older, with a significant amount of household income or investable assets.
Due in no small part to the chaos caused by the pandemic, people are more worried than ever about a number of risks to their retirement security. Respondents to the survey reported increased worry in 2021 about a wide variety of concerns including health care costs (71% versus 65% in 2020), the rising cost of living (67% vs. 59% in 2020), the impact of a market downturn on retirement savings (66% vs. 54% in 2020) and running out of money before they die (59% vs 56% in 2020).
This heightened anxiety about various financial planning topics is not exactly surprising given the turmoil of the past year. The eye-opening part of the story is the fact that, despite the rise in worry, clients aren’t sharing these concerns with their financial professionals.
Among respondents who currently work with a financial professional, approximately two-thirds indicated they are not currently discussing these topics. However, there is a silver lining to this concerning trend – the majority of respondents said they would welcome conversations on how to mitigate these worries.
The issues people are most interested in getting professional guidance on include: running out of money before they die (66%), the impact of a market downturn’s on savings (64%) and being too conservative in investments and missing out on market gains (63%). In addition, more than half said they would like to discuss concerns about high healthcare costs (59%), the rising cost of living (58%) and lack of funds to do all they things they want to do in retirement (57%).
That’s why the simple act of listening is so important.
Too often, financial professionals are in a hurry to offer solutions when they might not understand the full extent of the problem. Having open and honest conversations on a regular basis may be all that’s necessary to ensure you’re getting the full picture and responding to the key issues that are causing your clients the most concern.