Beyond finances: Make the most of your advisor conversations
The global coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone differently, but it has left almost no one untouched. Educators, in particular, are carrying a heavy burden, as they hastily adapt lesson plans for a digital environment, while also managing the impacts of the virus that affect everyone. Whether you are concerned about your own health and safety, the health and safety of your loved ones, your job, your emotional health, your financial well-being, your children’s education in the age of distance learning or all of the above — you are not alone.
What may be surprising is that your financial advisor can be a resource during this difficult time.
Today’s financial advisor has evolved far beyond the traditional role of simply managing investments. In a study of 360 advisors, Equitable and Investment News found that 87% said it’s extremely or very beneficial to take a broader view of their clients beyond financial measures. One advisor commented, “I don't consider myself as an ‘investment manager,’ but more of a ‘financial life planner’…We work so closely with our clients that we tend to be the first call for a multitude of life events: a death in the family, a marriage, a new baby.”
Whether you’re having your first or your 50th meeting with your financial advisor, don’t hesitate to talk about what’s happening in your life — what’s important, what’s new and what’s changed. In particular, the far-reaching consequences of the coronavirus likely has implications for you that your financial advisor will want to understand. Have you lost your job or taken a reduction in pay? Do you normally take on a summer job while school is closed, and is that plan in jeopardy this year? Are you concerned about how to keep your elderly parent safe and well? Have you decided to put big plans, like a home renovation, on hold? Don’t hesitate to explain and ask questions about all of the big events in your life, even if it doesn’t seem directly related to your financial portfolio. Understanding the whole you is critical for your advisor to help you plan for your financial well-being. (For a list of questions to consider as you prepare to meet with your advisor, see Checklist: Getting Ready for an Advisor Conversation.)
It is unlikely to surprise your advisor if you take the conversation beyond finances — if they haven't done it already. The survey from Equitable and Investment News found that advisors’ conversations with their clients have become increasingly broad-ranging. Discussions about health and physical well-being, mental and emotional well-being, and independence and moving to assisted living are all on the rise, among others (see chart). Interestingly, advisors found the frequency of these topics increased more with women than with men.
Beyond Finances: Holistic Life Planning Trends Among Advisors, InvestmentNews Research, 2020.
Consider, too, who should participate in your advisor meeting. The survey found only 58% of advisors regularly communicate with both spouses in a couple. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to take on the bulk of responsibility for financial planning, but a more holistic approach to life planning can benefit from both perspectives.
If you have children, it may also make sense to periodically include them in meetings with your financial advisor. In fact, 63% of advisors say they have more contact with clients’ children than they did previously. Teenagers and even preteens will absorb important lessons about how you approach financial planning, and what that says about your family’s values — perhaps through an emphasis on charitable giving or socially responsible investing. Meanwhile, your adult children may need to understand more about your finances, particularly as you begin thinking about estate planning and what you will need as you age.
Ultimately, your advisor wants to help you progress toward your goals, prepare for your next chapter, and protect today and tomorrow. But to understand what that general approach means for you personally, your advisor needs to know what’s important to you. Opening up that conversation, and keeping it going as your life evolves, will help your advisor create and refine your holistic plan.
For purposes of this discussion, “advisor” is used as a general term to describe insurance/annuity, investment sales and advisory professionals who may hold licensing as insurance agents, registrations with broker/dealers and registrations as investment advisory representatives (IAR) of registered investment advisors, respectively. “Advisor” in this context is not intended to necessarily refer to IAR-offered fee-based financial advisory/planning services.