“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do
just the same with their time.”
Unfortunately, this quote is all too true for many people we meet in our lives. They never make plans for the future and wait too long to begin saving for retirement.
Fortunately, as a result of the great business we are in, we have the ability to redirect these people to protect their finances and coach them on how to achieve the lifestyle they dream about. Our role as financial stewards for our clients has never been more important than it is today.
Take a minute to think about what is happening in our country. The national debt is growing, the deficit is increasing, Social Security solvency issues are on the horizon, Medicare and Medicaid are struggling, and our basic infrastructure is in bad shape. Our bridges, and now this year, our dams and levies, as seen by the flooding in the South and in the Northeast, have not been well maintained. In addition, the war on terror will probably last for the rest of our lives. These are all occurring at the same time that the vast majority of the people are enjoying some of the lowest tax rates since the tax code was adopted in 1913.
What does this all mean? The answer is a basic definition in finance: revenues minus expenses. The expenses in our country continue to increase while the revenues continue to decrease. Basic business sense would tell us that this is unsustainable in the long term, and something will have to change to maintain solvency. Two things are likely to happen to resolve this issue: Government benefits will be reduced, and taxes will increase.
Credit card debt and mortgage debt are high. Many people are living beyond their means and this problem, coupled with impending tax and government program issues, will eventually collide. Will your clients be prepared?
EDUCATE THEM TO SAVE NOW WHILE MAINTAINING A BALANCED LIFESTYLE.
The five-year plan
Now is the time to make sure our clients will be best prepared for their retirement. We need to educate them to save now while maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Fortunately, we have an endless array of techniques, products and services to do this.
While working with your clients on their financial goals, help them develop a “Top Five, Five-Year Plan.” Let them write down five things they would love to do in the next five years. For some it might be a trip with the kids to Disney; for others, an Alaskan cruise; and for others still, it may be saving 10 percent of their income once and for all. Don’t allow “as soon as” to become “should have, would have and could have.”
Guide your clients to start crossing items off the list each year, and you will develop clients for life. The key is to help them balance how they take on items on the Top Five list. As your clients’ coach, you can add significant value by being an objective sounding board to keep them focused on saving for the future while enjoying life today. Although all of us should make the most of each day, it is essential that we plan for tomorrow.
During your next meeting, talk to your client or prospect about the challenges that lie ahead concerning taxes, government programs and saving. Help him plan for his future while enjoying a five-year plan of his own now. Discuss the issues that he will face down the road and point out how the techniques, products and services you provide will be the solution.
There has never been a better time for advisors to make an impact in the lives of our prospects and clients.
Gregory B. Gagne, ChFC, is the founder of Affinity Investment Group, LLC, immediate past president of NAIFA-New Hampshire and a member of MDRT. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.