Every new year, 51% of Americans resolve to get their finances in order. But, like all New Year’s resolutions, making them is only the first step. It’s not enough for clients to say what they want to do financially—they have to know what steps to take to achieve those goals. While we’re well past the start of the new year, advisors who can learn to work with their clients’ own goals can build stronger, longer lasting relationships
Episode 4 of eMoney’s “That Makes Cents” podcast addresses giving clients the tools to keep their financial promises to themselves. Joining Spencer Israel are guests Matt Schulte, Head of Financial Planning at eMoney, and Mike Ross, owner of Cornerstone Financial Group in Burlington, MA.
Ross has worked with clients at all stages of their financial life for over 25 years. “When people come to me, they often have a single financial goal in mind,” he begins. “But unlike goals in other areas of life where advice can be solely focused on that one area, when it comes to finances and financial planning, people should be considering several goals at once,” he continues.
Ross explains those goals can include saving for a home, retirement, or making sure clients can protect their families if somebody dies or becomes disabled. He starts by developing a financial plan: providing his clients a big picture that helps them address all their important financial goals.
The goal-setting process is a fundamental part of the advisor-client process. Ross creates S.M.A.R.T. goals, which he says are “simple, meaningful, actionable, realistic, and trackable.” Those keep clients on track toward achieving their financial resolutions and each is critical.
He uses eMoney to help his clients maintain focus and take actions with their money that serve their long-term financial interests.
Having all their data in the platform lets them see how their money choices affect their goals. That’s important because eventually they retire. Ross says it’s imperative to make “sure clients have saved enough to have more choices, dignity, and options in retirement.”
Schulte’s group supports individual advisors and enterprise clients by providing customer service and training on all aspects of financial planning at eMoney. Schulte, who believes all goals are good because they get clients focused on achieving objectives, often gets asked by advisors the best methods of goal setting. In sharing how he guides advisors on having engaging conversations with their clients about the process, he explains how eMoney’s platform helps advisors support clients in keeping their financial resolutions.
“The budgeting and spending tools eMoney has built into both the advisor and client site help the client and advisor collaborate,” he says. Advisors understand precisely how many dollars they should allocate towards their clients’ financial goals. Advisors get access to all their clients’ financial details, and the client can monitor their financial actions themselves.
Because both sides see what the client does with their money, says Schulte, the platform “helps keep the client honest when it comes to how much money they’re spending.” That can help clients recognize how they may need to change spending habits to reach financial goals.
Ross and Schulte agree client actions are what mainly affect success or failure with keeping annual financial resolutions. But advisors play an important role in guiding clients in the right direction.
Advisors can establish more productive relationships when they help clients set and achieve financial goals year after year. Learn more about goal-setting in the advisor-client relationship by listening to Episode 4 of “That Makes Cents.”