As financial professionals, our job is to constantly seek new and improved ways to strengthen our client’s financial future. Nothing could be more fitting and fruitful for us to accomplish such an all-important task as annual reviews.
Before we contact our clients to schedule an annual review, there are a few key principles to keep in mind. The primary goal and purpose of our annual review is to identify areas where we can make significant improvements together. In doing so, our annual review must be:
- Evolving – We must adapt and adjust to their constantly changing lives.
- Enhancing – We must seek and identify innovative ways for improvement.
- Meaningful – We must learn and accomplish what is most important to them.
- Attainable – We must focus on achieving and accomplishing realistic goals.
Changes + Choices + Discipline = Discipline
The following old adage speaks volumes; “If you want to get what you’ve always got, then keep doing what you’ve always done.”
Whether we are talking about growing your financial practice or growing our client’s financial future, positive change requires making choices. If we want to experience a change for the better, it doesn’t happen from our hopes, dreams, or desires. We need to make a choice to change.
Positive changes only happen intentionally. We must make intentional choices to grow and be better. There is no growth without change, there is no change without loss, and there is no loss without pain.
If you are going to grow, proactive and disciplined changes are required. The only way we can grow, and help our clients grow, is by making the intentional choice to let go of old things, and grab hold of new and better ones.
Part of our job summary is to educate, empower, encourage, and enable the clients we serve. This requires us to utilize a disciplined process, and at the time, provide “financial discipline” for our clients.
One of my favorite quotes if from Tom Landry, the Legendary NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach of the Dallas Cowboys for over 30 years. Mr. Landry remarkably defined the word “discipline”, and here is how we can apply this to the great privilege we have; “Our job is to help our clients do the things they don’t want to do – so they can achieve the things they’ve always wanted to achieve.”
Annual reviews are an excellent opportunity for us to help our clients make the best choices and changes so we can all grow together.
Key Topics to Cover During Annual Reviews
In my effort to help, I have compiled a list of some of the most common ways we can help our clients build a better and brighter future together:
- Car, Home, Umbrella Insurance – Identify ways to structure these policies to make sure they pay the lowest possible prices for the highest amount of lawsuit protection.
- Disability Insurance – Discuss their employer options, compare them to other options, and make sure they have the best backup plan for their all-important income.
- Long-Term Care Insurance – Help them learn more about how it works, the best age to purchase, the keys to structuring a policy, and how to make sure they can afford it.
- Medicare Supplemental Insurance – Review which supplemental plan they have, all the plans available to them, and confirm they are paying the lowest price for the best plan.
- Social Security Planning – Make sure they know the right time to start taking it, how to minimize their taxes, review their spousal income options, and more.
- Estate Planning – Review the key differences between a Last Will and Living Trust, see which one fits them best, and connect them with the best and cheapest way to create one.
- End of Life Planning – Learn the best ways to document their final plans and preferences, as well as the best options for prepay their funeral and cemetery expenses.
- Life Insurance – Understand what they own now, review the different kinds and options, determine the right amount, or replace what they currently have with something cheaper.
- Safe Money Options – Make sure they have the right amount in safe and liquid places and, more importantly, make these monies are earning the best possible return.
- College Savings – Review the top available options, identify which is best for parents vs. grandparents, and help you either start a college savings plan – or begin saving more.
- Annuity Review – If they currently own an annuity, make sure they know exactly how it works. If they don’t own one, discuss all the pros and cons and see if one might be a good fit.
- Employer Plan Contributions – Discuss how much their company matches, make sure they are saving the right amount, and see if other options make more sense.
- Employer Plan Investments – Review their company retirement plan investment goals and objectives, and make sure this fits within your “big picture” investment game plan.
- Employer Plan Roth IRA Provision – Determine if their retirement savings plan has a “Roth Provision”, see if that is their best option, and how much to contribute or redirect.
- Roth IRA Contributions – Identify ways to free up cash flow, or redirect some of their current savings, so you can ensure you maximize their 2017 Roth IRA contributions.
- Investment Planning – Review their current investments, and those elsewhere, to ensure the best strategies to grow their wealth – and with as little risk as possible.
- Bond Planning – Make sure they know exactly how bonds work, how they are affected by rising interest rates, and determine if they should buy, hold, or sell bonds.
- Mortgage Planning – Review their current mortgage(s) or Home Equity Line(s) of Credit, and the pros and cons of a 30 or 15-year loan, prepaying their mortgage, or a refinance.
- Debt Reduction – Discuss the top strategies to reduce or eliminate debt, identify which debts to pay off first, and ensure the highest cash flow to them at the lowest possible cost.
- Planning for Retirement – Find out when they want to retire, when they can retire, determine how much income they will need, and build a plan to make it happen.
- Retirement Income Planning – Find ways to engineer (or re-engineer) their retirement income plan to provide the highest income with the least amount of taxes.
- Inflation Planning – Discuss the current and future impacts of inflation on their income, the need for rising income, and make sure they have a plan in place for increasing income.
- April 15th Planning – Discuss which accounts require money prior to April 15th, how much they can contribute to each one, and help maximize their tax-deductible planning.
- Tax Planning – Ensure their wealth is growing with the least taxes, their savings are going towards the most tax-efficient places, so they can reduce and/or eliminate taxes.
- Spousal Income Replacement Planning – Since death can occur at unexpected times, and in unexpected ways, you need to build the best possible backup plan for each spouse.
- Beneficiary Designations – Review their primary and contingent (secondary) beneficiaries, make sure they are same, and they are also consistent with their Last Will or Trust.
- Senior Living Planning – Review their best options for transitioning to a senior or assisted-living facility, so this change happens in the most efficient and affordable way.
- Multi-Generational Legacy Planning – Discuss some of the cutting-edge strategies to help them leave a legacy for their kids, grandkids, and many generations thereafter.
- Parent and Inheritance Planning – Educate and empower them to have “the conversation” about key money matters such as estate, long-term care, end of life, and estate tax planning.
- Stewarding God’s Wealth – Identify ways to better steward God’s financial blessings, so they can increase their monthly cash flow and better spend, enjoy, tithe, and steward their monies.
- Charitable Giving – Coordinate and integrate their Estate Plan to include any charitable giving plans and preferences such as their Church, University, Non-Profit, etc.
- Referral and Growth Planning – Do your clients have family, friends, or co-workers, like them, who they can introduce you to, and you can help them build a better financial future too?
The Sooner the Better!
Getting started is easy. All it takes is a phone call or email to start scheduling annual reviews. Think about it. Once you and your clients begin to experience the benefits from your annual review:
- How much better will their financial future look?
- How much happier will you both be?
- How much can this benefit you, your clients, and the families you serve?
- How much can this benefit the future generations of your clients?
- How much will this improve your practice and that values you provide?
- How much better can your clients accomplish God’s Will and advance His Kingdom?
The sooner the better. It’s only too soon…until it’s too late.
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