By Mike Gertsema, CEO and Wealth Advisor
A major part of the advisory journey is making contingency plans for “life moments,” such as retirement, stock market crashes, disability events, health issues, premature death, income reductions, job losses, tax law changes, Social Security timing and estate planning concerns.
What happens when your advisor has one of these “life moments”?
The average age of financial advisors is somewhere in the mid-50s, and one in five advisers is 65 or older. If they’re not prepared for what’s next, this group could leave the fate of thousands of practices and millions of clients in limbo over the next decade.
When choosing a financial advisor, you want to make sure these professionals follow their own planning advice when it comes to their businesses, for their clients’ sake, as well as their own.
Planning for “Life Moments” as a Business Owner
Thirty years ago, contingency plans did not seem to be a huge concern. But now, as I’m getting older, I realize that a lot of the professionals or businesses that I’ve dealt with over the years have retired or closed shop, leaving me to wonder what to do next.
It would have been nice if these professionals would have planned ahead, building up a capable team in advance of their departure to leave their customers in good hands.
I’ve been blessed with a great advisory board of clients over the years who have helped me make good decisions throughout my career. They have asked me a lot of tough questions, one of which deals with my plan for business succession. Although it’s difficult to imagine dying or not going to work, it reminds me of the important conversations we have with clients regarding their life moments and estate planning.
Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor
One-person offices and individual advisors in brokerage firms can leave many consumers wondering, “What happens to me and my financial future if something happens to the one person in charge?” Here are a few questions you may want to ask when choosing a financial advisor to address that concern:
- Are you an advisor or a fiduciary, and do you put it in writing for verification?
- Are you part of a bigger team of professionals who are fiduciaries? (You can usually tell if they’re an employee of a brokerage firm that has a local office by whose name is on the front door or building.)
- Are you and your team part of a bigger team or organization with a like-minded culture that puts clients first by providing proactive advice? Are they readily available?
- What designations, qualifications or work experience does your team have that serves my needs? (Being a nice friendly person is not a designation or a qualification to give you good advice – you can find that with most salespeople!)
- What is your contingency plan to protect me and my family in our financial planning journey?
In today’s environment, we are witnessing a lot of change at a very fast pace. The financial planning industry is changing as well, and working as a team with like-minded individuals and partners who put clients first is the best way to serve, grow and prosper.
Clients have the right to ask their financial advisor the “life moments” questions to be sure they are comfortable with the advisor’s plan, as well as their own.
Putting a Plan in Place
At Gertsema Wealth Advisors, I can safely say we have a plan for my “life moments” to safeguard our clients and my family.
We continue to add knowledgeable professionals to our team who can deliver more value to our clients today and in the foreseeable future. So far this year we added two impressive team members:
- Scott Keegan, Associate Wealth Advisor, a graduate of Missouri Western State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting
- Cristina Wiebelt-Smith, CPA, Wealth Planning Administrator, a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a master’s degree in accounting
We’re continuing to grow at the local level, and our partner, Carson, is one of the largest wealth management firms in the country.
It’s truly exciting to be part of this movement in the financial services profession – we’re always working to proactively get ahead of changing times to better serve our clients.
How can we help you? Get in touch with our team today to set up a financial review and plan ahead for your life moments.