Resources


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Article: A New Year's Resolution Worth Keeping

Originally published in Advisor Perspectives Newsletter, September 3, 2013
By Teresa Riccobuono

Imagine this: You are meeting with clients, reviewing the action items for which they were responsible, when they say, “You will be so proud of us. We went ahead and got that long-term care insurance you said we needed.”

To your surprise and amazement, they applied for the insurance with someone other than you. How could this have happened?

If this scenario sounds familiar – and let’s be honest, it has happened to all of us one time or another – what can you do to be sure it doesn’t happen again?

Very few advisors do as good a job as possible articulating their value proposition and the ways they can be of service to their clients. If clients purchase products or services from competitors, it may be because they are unaware of the full range of your offerings.

Often the public (including our clients) views advisors as retirement-plan specialists or asset managers, and nothing more.

If you offer comprehensive advice or planning, the benefits you bring to your clients far exceed retirement and investment management. How do you inform your clients about the value you bring to the table?

One way is through a comprehensive menu of services.

Think of all the ways you help clients. Yes, retirement planning and investment planning are on the list, but so is estate planning, tax planning and all of the insurance issues you evaluate. Don’t forget about education planning, helping them save for their first or second home, or planning for special events such as a wedding or vacation. There are also emotional issues your clients face, such as deaths of loved ones, dissolutions of marriages and births of children.

Once you have developed your menu of services, be sure to include any necessary disclosures and get approval from a legal or compliance advisor.

Next, communicate your menu of services to your clients.

A sample conversation might go something like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Jones, through surveying my clients, I am worried that I may have not done as good a job as possible articulating all of the services that I can and do provide. As such, I decided the best way to share my list of services was to put pen to paper and create a document that explains this list. I would like to take a few minutes to review my menu of services with you. I think it would be a good exercise for three reasons. First, you might have questions or concerns about something and are not aware that I can be a resource for you in this area. Second, someone you care for may have questions or concerns about something and you are not aware that I can be of service to them. And third, as your life circumstances change, it is important to know that I can continue to be a resource to you in these areas.

A sample menu of services is provided in the Appendix.

Several of my clients have implemented the menu of services and had the corresponding conversation with their clients. The outcome has been very beneficial: The conversation has generated an open and honest dialogue about questions and concerns the clients, up until that time, had been unable to articulate, which has led to new opportunities for the advisors.

As an advisor, you are one of the most important people in your clients’ lives. Make certain you add full value to the relationship by ensuring your clients have the opportunity to learn about the full spectrum of services you provide. A document such as this will help you initiate an open and honest conversation.

Appendix

Retirement Planning

  • Evaluate pension plan structures, IRAs, Roth IRAs or qualified plans
  • Analyze distribution options for pensions
  • Calculate retirement plan benefits, including Social Security
  • Calculate IRS required minimum distributions
  • (RMDs) and educate you on the regulations
  • Provide Roth IRA conversion calculations and advice

Investment Management

  • Consolidate investment paperwork
  • Provide 401(k), 403(b) or 457 investment advice
  • Evaluate investment alternatives
  • Explain investment ideas in a manner that makes it easy to understand
  • Provide secure on-line brokerage and stock-trading accounts
  • Provide annual asset allocation review and, as needed, account rebalancing
  • Conduct semi-annual review of investment statements
  • Review your investment strategy to maintain an individualized, high-quality portfolio
  • Create and review an investment policystatement tailored to your needs

Emotional

  • Provide positive encouragement and motivation for effort and successes
  • Advise you to avoid reactive or emotional decisions which could negatively affect your portfolio
  • Support you through transitional phases: major illness, death, inheritance, job change, retirement, child birth, divorce, legal issues or other crises
  • Encourage you to save and invest
  • Evaluate your risk tolerance and help determine your tolerance for loss
  • Help you understand the various attitudes toward money and the financial decision-making associated with each of them
  • Resolve problems quickly
  • Provide friendly and knowledgeable support
  • Continue to seek out professional education for myself to better serve you

Economic Analysis

  • Provide economic and stock market updates and explain what it means to you
  • Help you evaluate the economic news to determine what you should and shouldn’t be concerned about

Education

  • Provide investment information with a comprehensive approach
  • Keep you up to date with product, service, strategy changes and improvements
  • Conduct semi-annual financial review meetings, with calls as needed in between
  • Provide appointment summary follow-up letters
  • Send quarterly newsletters or updates

Goal Related

  • Provide more confidence for financial matters, focusing on goals, priorities, direction and structure
  • Conduct annual planning evaluations and tracking of goals
  • Provide proactive follow up on action items
  • Develop, establish and track individual and family goals
  • Promote vacation planning and quality-of-life enhancements
  • Calculate net worth and review cash flow annually

Employment Support

  • Explain how to best utilize employer benefits
  • Analyze the economic benefits of employment offers
  • Evaluate stock options and distributions as well as restricted stocks

Self-Employment Issues

  • Provide small business operational advice
  • Evaluate current business insurance and provide options if needed
  • Provide referrals to business valuation specialists
  • Analyze IPOs and business purchase options
  • Help you manage retirement plan tracking and maintenance: contributions made, contribution limits, GUST amendments, profit sharing tax forms (5500), etc.
  • Analyze current employee benefits and provide options
  • Provide information on business transition or succession strategies
  • Provide guidance regarding business tax planning

Cash Management

  • Evaluate current holdings and look for opportunities to increase returns on cash accounts
  • Help determine an appropriate amount of “easy-access” funds to have available for emergency or opportunity

Liability Management

  • Analyze debt structure and organization and assess lending opportunities
  • Evaluate mortgage financing, the economic benefits of refinancing, semi-monthly payment programs, accelerated payment programs and PMI reduction strategies

Insurance Review

  • Evaluate current life, disability, long-term care, health, umbrella, property and auto insurance and look for opportunities for improvement or money savings

Income and Expense Analysis

  • Help prioritize your spending and prepare for potential pitfalls
  • Look for opportunities for additional savings

Income Tax Issues

  • Provide information about tax-planning strategies
  • Simplify tax reporting
  • Discuss the benefits of optimizing your 401(k), 403(b) or other retirement plan options
  • Provide capital gains and loss planning
  • Provide information on the benefits of section 125 plans and health-savings accounts
  • Help you reduce taxation of Social Security benefits
  • Provide a year-end capital gains/loss analysis

Saving for Education

  • Research opportunities and help calculate college financial aid programs
  • Educate you on the various minor account ownership options: UTMAs, Education IRAs, 529 plans, etc.
  • Conduct financial education programs for children

Estate Planning

  • Advise on the implementation and proper use of estate planning tools: wills, trusts or powers-of-attorney
  • Provide education and guidance on charitable giving alternatives
  • Review ownership and beneficiary designations on all accounts

Personal Property Analysis

  • Calculate the benefits of purchasing versus leasing a vehicle
  • Analyze the economics of a second property or rental property

Miscellaneous

  • noted under goal analysis
  • Analyze the effects of inflation on your goals
  • Provide referrals to CPAs, attorneys, mortgage brokers, etc.
  • Provide notary services