Comprehensive and holistic financial planning is a crucial skill for financial advisors. Many practitioners serve only one segment of a client’s financial plan, which can result in gaps in their plan and protection. While there may be some limits to the solutions an advisor can provide to a client, it is important to understand the risks so that clients are properly protected in situations that can wreak havoc on even the most well-laid plans.
Address and Plan Against
» Life insurance. Virtually all clients — especially those with debt or families — should carefully consider life insurance. The loss of an underinsured family member can be financially devastating. Planning software or online calculators can help clients understand their life insurance gap and identify how much coverage is needed.
A blended approach to combine term and permanent life insurance coverage may be a strong approach for most clients and can be adapted based on clients’ unique needs. Whole life insurance has asset value and growth, and is a useful tool for estate planning. Term life insurance policies can cover the life insurance gap, which is often too expensive to cover solely through permanent policies.
» Long-term care. Long-term care insurance is an important part of the plan that is often overlooked because it’s hard for clients to understand the need. Educate your clients to let them know the medical and nonmedical expenses required for a long-term illness can be more expensive than they think, and if not covered, they can overwhelm and devastate a family. Many clients equate long-term care with long-term disability insurance; however, even disability payments may not cover the costs of a long-term care event.
It’s never too early to start the education and planning conversations about long-term care. Even if clients are not ready to purchase, you can discuss the risks and potential needs during initial planning sessions. Clients may consider purchasing coverage for their parents, whom they may plan to care for later in life.
» Disability insurance. Help clients understand the risk of both long-term and short-term disability by conducting a disability analysis. Clients often receive some form of disability insurance through their employer, but they need context to understand how much coverage they need. As part of their holistic plan, help clients understand their need for disability insurance as well as the importance of being properly insured.
With regard to the financial planning process, clients are generally most interested in their accumulation plan to fund long-term and retirement goals. To them, these end goals are part of a lifelong dream and are more exciting and important than protection. Holistic planning takes these future plans into account and addresses them alongside probable risk factors to protect and shape the future.
Retirement is typically a client’s top concern and most important priority. With conservative assumptions and detailed cash flow analysis, we are able to provide a good representation of where clients will stand during retirement. They will be more likely to take the necessary steps to achieve goals with a clearer understanding of the gaps in their plan.
Keep other financial goals unrelated to retirement in mind during plan development. If clients aim to finance education costs for themselves or children or wish to leave an inheritance for family members, these can be incorporated in the accumulation planning process and provide tangible milestones and steps.
Holistic planning is an art form that strikes a delicate balance to assess, analyze, and address a client’s risks and goals and to develop a plan that accounts for all factors. It is crucial to understand a client’s interests and what’s most important to them. Although holistic planning requires a greater time commitment, in the end, it deepens the relationship between an advisor and a client. With so many different options available to them, clients are looking for trusted advisors they can go to for their comprehensive planning needs.
Elizabeth Dipp Metzger, MSFS, CFP, is president of Crown Wealth Strategies, a financial firm in El Paso, Texas. She is a seven-year MDRT member with five Court of the Table and four Top of the Table honors.