Trends Come and Go, Clients Shouldn’t
By now, we’re probably all sick of hearing the word unprecedented. However, once again, the word is the best way to describe how many of us are feeling about entering the third year of life in a global pandemic.
The world is a changed place from three years ago. While pre-pandemic times found many people seeking out financial advice to prepare for the future—retirement, children’s education, long term care, etc.—living through a pandemic has also led us to reevaluate our priorities.
Sure, it’s still important to be strategic with your financial plan, and the importance of an emergency fund has never been more crystal clear, but the Coronavirus has also served as a wakeup call that life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Where many once saved up for dream vacations they hoped to take during their golden years, people are now realizing that “bucket list living” is not something to be put off. Those of us unsatisfied in our careers are taking leaps of faith and switching industries. All around, there has been an awakening of people rediscovering their values and priorities and taking action to live more fully and completely.
As financial advisors, perspectives have also changed greatly over the course of the last few years. Our clients have brought new concerns to the forefront of our minds, from fear over inflation to an evolved view on retirement planning. We have entered 2022 with new preoccupations to sort out and different hurdles to jump over.
According to a recent U.S. News article, these are the top financial advising trends for 2022:
- Rethinking retirement.
- “Bucket list living.”
- Preparing for inflation.
- Less holding, more momentum.
- Advanced tax planning.
- Hybrid client communications.
At Beyond AUM, we consistently stress the importance of financial advisors taking a client-centric approach in their initiatives. After all, your clients are why you do what you do. They are the lifeblood of your business.
Far too many financial advisors fail to understand just how important their existing clients are to their business. It’s easy to focus on growth and get caught up in prospecting new clients, but the truth is, maintaining an existing client base is a much smarter tactic—it’s less expensive than acquiring new customers and ensures that your clients receive the exceptional service and care they deserve.
Yes, prospecting new leads is important too, but when a firm focuses on providing top-notch service to their existing client base, they are much more likely to gain long-lasting loyalty, which, in turn, increases the likelihood for word-of-mouth referrals (typically the best types of leads.)
So, how can financial advisors address the aforementioned trends from a client-centric point of view? Let’s break it down.
Rethinking retirement and “bucket list living”
When it comes to retirement planning, it’s especially important to listen to the client and gain a thorough understanding of their needs, priorities, and goals. Have their views on retirement changed? How has the pandemic motivated this shift? What questions or concerns do they have? Involve your clients in the process and make them part of the solution. Ultimately, you need to provide sound financial advice, but it’s important to also be empathetic and truly take the time to understand the client’s point of view. Your role is to help them achieve their goals, after all.
On a similar note, as more and more people’s priorities evolve, “bucket list living” has emerged as a trend. At its core, bucket list living is the idea that retirement planning should be less about the destination and more about enjoying the ride. Of course, as a fiduciary financial advisor, your goal is to help your clients plan for the future, but it’s also important to help them fund an experience-filled and rewarding life, prior to retirement.
Preparing for inflation
Inflation has been a hot topic over the past several months and it remains a concern in 2022. As such, investors and advisors will be looking to reallocate funds to inflation-friendly sectors, such as utilities, energy, and health care. As clients voice their fears over inflation, focus on being a point of stability. Strive to establish confidence and trust with your clients, and reiterate the importance of staying the course instead of chasing returns. Nobody, including you, can say with certainty what the future will hold, but sounding the alarms and wreaking havoc will ultimately do more harm than good.
Gauging market momentum and advanced tax planning
The popular buy-and-hold investment strategy may lose traction as we continue to experience market volatility. Likely to replace it, market momentum and market trending strategies allow investors to use market data to determine if the future trend is a good or bad time to be in the market, as well as to pinpoint where the momentum is in the market at any given time. They seek you, as their trusted advisor to understand, communicate and level out the noise.
Additionally, with the federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes set to increase this year along with many other tax updates, these are just two of the reasons that many clients may opt to revisit their investment and/or tax strategies this year. Financial advisors should be prepared to provide advice that both keeps current events in mind, but also that transcends them.
While we at Beyond AUM are not investment advisors, we know that it is of critical importance that advisors truly listen to clients’ needs and concerns and keep them in mind while coming up with a path forward. If we get too deep in the weeds when the client just wants to know if they can retire, your client may feel unheard and that never feels right.
Hybrid client communications
As the world opens up again in ripples, some financial advisors are reverting to in-person meetings. We’ve all experienced enough virtual meetings to last a lifetime, however, financial advisors would be wise to adopt a hybrid model instead of nixing online meetings entirely. Part of being client-centric means meeting your clients where they are, and especially now, that means different things for different people. Your immunocompromised clients may prefer to meet remotely, while your extroverted clients may be itching for face-to-face interaction.
Markets fluctuate, investment strategies adapt, and viruses spread. Life is full of unknowns and inconsistencies. However, your clients remain the core of your business. As you immerse yourself in the financial—and non-financial—happenings of 2022, remember this fundamental truth. Focus on creating the best possible experience for your clients. That means listening to their concerns, offering potential solutions, keeping an open dialogue, and going above and beyond the typical duties of a financial planner to act as both a voice of reason and a dedicated guide for their life’s plan.
Looking for more guidance on how you can proactively put your clients first and creating an experience that your clients love? Reach out to Beyond AUM for help!