Are you as intentional about your finances as you are about your haircut or dental care?
Most of the people I know have an established, regular pattern when it comes to keeping their teeth clean or their hair trimmed. They create a routine because they know that the more regular they are, the more they’ll benefit.
Unfortunately, many consumers don’t take this same approach to their investments or financial health. Instead of creating a routine, they tend to approach their finances with a mentality of “It will all work out in the long-run.”
A recent survey found that 18% of Americans look at their checking account balance less than once a month, 54% never check their credit score, and a staggering 43% do not save money.
Part of the value of a financial advisor is to help their clients establish healthy financial routines. Let’s take a look at why the right behavior is so important to long-term financial success.
The Situations That Commonly Trigger a Financial Review
If consumers aren’t checking their finances regularly, then what does cause them to assess their situation? Often, it’s a major life event.
Sometimes those life events can be a cause of celebration (a new baby is on the way) but just as often they can be for tragic situations, such as a death in the family.
Here are a few other events that, in my experience in working with investors, typically prompt a renewed interest in their financial plan or account balances:
- Medical emergency
- Upcoming large purchase, like a home or tuition
- Benefit enrollment periods
- Retirement is around the corner
Whether good or bad, those major life events are typical moments when a client wants to know if they’re on track with their goals, or wildly off pace.
The trouble is, if a client is not intentional about staying informed about their day-to-day finances, they may be leaning more toward the wrong path than they would like.
Good financial health ultimately comes down to good financial behavior. And thankfully, it’s possible for financial advisors to help create a deeper understanding that can lead to better behaviors.
Best Practices to Help Clients Consistently Engage
One of the reasons why I developed Asset-Map is because I saw the value in ensuring conversations happen with clients instead of waiting for massive life events to pop up.
If you’re looking for ways to help your clients stay engaged with their financial condition and keep a more intentional financial posture, follow these steps in your next meeting.
Too many unknowns can feel overwhelming. You’ve got to help clients tidy up their “financial closet” so they can understand their finances throughout the year instead of sporadically during one-at-a-time events. I like to do this by visually presenting an investor with a picture of all their financial decisions and the people that matter. This approach lends itself well to the second best practice.
During conversations, it helps to ask questions, even if you think you know the answer. Give your client a chance to think through their finances and arrive at their own conclusions. As you look at the various financial instruments a client may have, ask “why do you have this?” or “does this serve you anymore?” These types of questions promote active thinking, so you and your client can create a financial arrangement where all the pieces complement each other.
Tackle the Hard Stuff
When you work with a couple, you need to dig deep and get into some uncomfortable territory at times. But any strange conversations now will be less awkward than when your client wants to make an unexpected purchase when you have to tell them it will set them back from reaching their larger goals. Couples may need to review account ownership. If an account is in only one name, why? Does it matter? One partner may have a lot of school debt, which may affect joint financial goals. Other common situations may be a need to review life insurance choices or savings rates. The more you can dig into these issues before an event occurs, the greater the chance for long-term success.
The One Rule for Better Client Conversations
At the end of the day, your client relationships will live by a simple truth: You can’t wait until things get bad to help clients. You always have to be looking ahead so your clients, and you, feel in control of their financial future.
The right mindset to investment planning is not to check account balances every hour of every day, but instead to develop an active and consistent routine that guides behaviors toward positive results.
Every step you take with clients on their journey to financial success matters. Click here to read more about how you can positively impact clients on each step of their financial journey.