Today’s guest post comes from John Navien, a financial professional in Boston with the MetLife Premier Client Group.
It’s fun being scared by horror movies and costumes during Halloween season, but no financial professionals want to see their clients get frightened by making the wrong decisions with their money. Your clients might think they have full control of their financial life, but everyday consumers often make major mistakes that eventually come back to haunt them. We’ve all seen it.
Here are five ways in which we, as financial professionals, can communicate with clients to prevent them from making scary mistakes with their money:
- Remind them of the power of compounding and urge them to start saving ASAP. Retirement doesn’t seem so scary when it’s far in the future, but if your clients aren’t saving enough now, they will miss the retirement boat completely. Sit down with your clients and make sure they are contributing a portion of their paycheck to a 401K or IRA. Figure out an amount they can manage to put away each month, and encourage them to stick to it and increase it as they get raises or other expenses dwindle.
- Design a plan to erase large balances from credit cards. It’s very scary to see clients carry large amounts of debt. Help them understand that if they are irresponsible for too long, no amount of planning can undo the damage. If they have debt, help them set up a budget and a system to pay it down systematically.
- Don’t claim Social Security too early. Always advise your clients to put off claiming Social Security for as long as they can. If they are in good health and can wait because they’re still working or have amassed a nice nest egg, they can receive an extra 8 percent per year on retirement benefits for each year they delay between ages 66 and 70.
- Encourage proper insurance protection. When it comes to clients’ financial well-being, sometimes the best offense is a strong defense. Help your clients understand the importance of protecting their family’s financial goals through life insurance, disability insurance and annuities, and work with them to make sure they have the proper amounts in place.
- Prepare for a “rainy day.” Not having a “rainy day” fund can leave your client in hot water. Advise your clients to keep about six months of household funds on hand in case an unexpected expense comes up. The threat of late bills, a worse credit score or even an unwanted loan should inspire fear in any investor.