As part of our discovery process at Halpern Financial, prospective clients fill out a comprehensive survey to give us the data we need to provide advice appropriate for their financial situation. But of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story of your life. For example, a $25,000 debt could accrue for a number of reasons, from unsustainable lifestyle expenses to unexpected medical costs. Clearly, the reason behind the numbers should guide the advice we give.
New research from the MIT AgeLab supports the idea that the better financial advisors know their clients, the more holistic advice they are able to give beyond just investment management to help clients live longer and live well. So we always ask about the following areas to gain a full picture of our clients’ needs, and encourage our clients to share whenever changes occur!
College funding, new properties, new vehicles, charitable giving, even a new horse—all are goals we have helped clients to plan for in a way that is cost-effective and tax-efficient.
However, not all goals involve buying a “thing.” You may have a commission-based income that varies and you want to make sure you guard your family against any interruptions in income throughout the year. You may feel worried about an older family member’s ability to care for him- or herself and your goal may be to help somehow. Think hard about any goals that fall outside of what you would normally consider a “financial” goal—it is possible that your financial advisor can find a solution to help you achieve it.
How You Feel About Your Financial Situation
The conventional knowledge is that as you age, your stock allocation should go down while your bond allocation should go up. But what if dips in the stock market make you so panicked that you want to abandon ship and sell to cash? You may need a slightly more conservative portfolio for peace of mind. On the flip side, if you plan to work well beyond normal retirement age, you may be comfortable with a larger growth component of your portfolio than the typical models would assign you based on your age.
No two people are alike, and your emotions around money can and should be taken into account.
Divorce, marriage, and new children are all major life transitions that have a financial aspect to them.
But often people don’t think about “everyday” kinds of changes that have financial implications.
- Change in Job Situation: Losing or gaining a job is a big example of this, but even small changes can have an impact. Have your benefits changed? This could require a change in the amounts you allocate to retirement saving, or it might mean you need an insurance agent to evaluate any gaps in your coverage.
- Data Breaches: If your private data has been compromised in a data breach, you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a scam, or even if you just lost a credit card, there are ways your financial advisor can put extra layers of security and restrictions on your accounts to protect your data and your wealth. Check out our cybersecurity checklist for more information.
- Emergencies: Hospital bills, car accidents, or any other emergency that requires you to dip into your cash reserves may require a change in cash flow to eventually replenish those reserves.
- Paying Off Debts: Paying off a debt gives a huge opportunity to reallocate funds toward other goals. Your financial advisor can help you to prioritize and plan for whatever is next.
In our thinking, behavior and finance go hand in hand. We want to know about your goals and challenges in life because we know that financial planning goes far beyond investing—it’s how you use money to plan for your life.
We hope this list jogs your memory and that you will feel free to let us know if there are any changes in your life we can help you plan for.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Halpern Financial, Inc.), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Halpern Financial, Inc.. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Halpern Financial, Inc. is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Halpern Financial, Inc.’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.