Financial advisors are keenly aware that many senior citizens become fearful of outliving their money, and that this fear grows with age. What can financial advisors do to allay this fear? A better question is: Can financial advisors do anything to prevent this fear before it has a chance to start?
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Please allow me, a retired journalist and former owner and operator of two small businesses, to air my feelings and opinions.
I’m now 82 years old, 14 years older than my wife. I’m not afraid I will outlive my money, but I am fearful my wife may outlive hers. I become a bit more fearful day by day. It's something I live with every day, perhaps because we did our planning without assistance from a financial advisor. We did a pretty good job of planning financially for me, but we did not take our age difference into account. Suddenly, the mistake looms large.
When I retired at age 60, my wife was only 46. This is when we should have financially separated our retirement plans.
A financial advisor could have helped me better grow my wealth. Given the opportunity, I know now, a good financial advisor could have put into place a retirement plan that would provided real diversification. What’s really important is that financial advisors reach people like me before it’s too late. What to do?
Don’t rely on financial planning seminars that include a free lunch at some hotel. Old-timers are very leery of anything connected to offering something for “free.” We see this as some kind of trick that will eventually include high-pressure tactics designed to get us to accept whatever is presented at “seminars.” No one likes to be pressured into anything. Besides, most old-timers will trick you. They will accept your free meal but under no circumstances engage your services.
Newspaper ads that spell out the virtues of retirement planning very effective. While the older generation still reads newspapers, what we look for are discount coupons for food and clothing.
Television advertising is out of reach financially for most advisory firms, but it's also not too efffective. We oldsters usually mute the sound when commercials come on. We take more bathroom breaks than younger people.
The Internet won't give you enough penetration. The elderly are generally not skilled at surfing the Net.
The best way to reach oldsters is word of mouth. I have no doubt that I would have responded positively if the owner of a small independent financial advisory business in my city had contacted me to explain the math behind the importance of early retirement planning. Age 60 is late, but not too late, for financial planning. Age 46, however, would hae been a great time to start.
My wife and I were members of a downtown merchants association, but we never heard the words “retirement planning” mentioned at any of our business meetings or social events.
From my perspective, financial planners could benefit greatly by combing their files for satisfied business clients, and then trying to link them to prospective clients in similar businesses. Word of mouth is the best way to advertise any business.
Talk to your clients. Talk to your prospects. Then ask them to talk to each other.