Everywhere you look consumers are bombarded with TV commercials, magazine ads, Billboards, as well as social media promoted ads all designed to sell us an insurance product or investment. It’s no surprise then that most individuals trying to plan for their retirement have no idea where to begin, nor do they know how to decipher which advice is accurate and in their best interest. Their spending and saving habits are out of control. In a recent Forbes article focusing on the lack of preparedness for retirement, and one of the leading causes is uncontrolled spending and poor savings habits.
“Focus on budgeting. No matter how many different savings vehicles are offered, you have to have a handle on spending in order to save. EBRI found that 58% of workers were having problems with debt.”
As advisers, it is your responsibility to educate your clients, change their habits and help them make the necessary life changes in order to save for retirement. I’ve been working with financial advisers for more than 9 years and often the focus of conferences I’ve seen in the industry has been on “closing the sale.” In my opinion, the focus should be on “changing behaviors.” For most of us, we are our own worst enemy. We know that we should save more, spend less. However, that doesn’t stop us from running out to Starbucks for our $4 coffee or going out to dinner a couple nights per week. Our habits dictate how we live our everyday lives, our spending habits, and ultimately our saving habits. The most successful advisers have become “behavioral experts.” I bet you didn’t know you needed a Psychology degree to become a financial adviser, but perhaps a better understanding of human psychology would serve advisers and their clients well. We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not how much you make. It’s how much you keep.” Instead of focusing on how to sell more stuff, focus on the psychology of money and how to help your clients have a healthier relationship with their money.
Do your clients a favor and focus on being a “Financial Educator.” Be the agent of change that they need to set their retirement planning on the right track. Teach them the importance of financial concepts and what it means for their portfolio. Offer them guidance and a process for change, not just another insurance product or investment to add to their portfolio. Help them curb their spending habits so that they don’t plow through their life’s saving too quickly in retirement. Not only will they be grateful for the guidance, but also it will truly differentiate you from many of the advisers. It’s a great way to build trust, respect, and potentially more business through referrals.