Beyond finances: Taking a holistic approach to life planning
The global coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone differently, but it has left almost no one untouched. 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 the above — you are not alone.
In the context of our current circumstances, it was interesting to see the recent results of a study from Equitable and InvestmentNews Research. It found that more and more, people like you are turning to their financial advisors for more than financial planning and investment management. They expect a more holistic approach to life planning that considers all their needs and aspirations.
For example, the survey 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.
The study also pointed to a need to consider who should participate in advisor meetings. 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.
Similarly, it may make sense to periodically include your children in advisor meetings. 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.
The trend toward holistic life planning is one that is likely to accelerate, given the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on many families. Most people will find it helpful to talk about the specific impact they have experienced, such as whether they have lost their job or taken a reduction in pay, are concerned about how to keep an elderly parent safe and well, or have decided to put big plans, like a home renovation, on hold.
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.