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Nudging the Reluctant Client

Persistence pays off when dealing with clients involved in major life changes.

David J. Drucker, 01/28/2010

To live is to experience loss.

We endure all kinds of losses--large and small--during our lifetimes. As we age, though, the losses tend to be greater. The deaths of friends and family members are high on the list of losses, but other losses occur, and they are often minimized when, in fact, they pose just as big an issue.

A client who reaches an age so advanced that he can no longer drive a car experiences a tremendous loss of freedom. A client who can no longer care for herself and now requires assistance with functions of daily living experiences an even greater loss of her home and familiar surroundings as family members move her to assisted living.

Because the emotional and monetary aspects of these life changes are so intertwined, financial advisors get caught in the middle. It's up to us, as full-service providers, to assist clients in making these life changes while we are, at the same time, aware of the personal loss that these changes engender.

Pat Raskob of Raskob/Kambourian Financial Advisors in Tucson, Ariz., deals with these themes all the time. She calls this phenomenon the "psychology of getting clients to give up control as they age."

With an 11-person firm often specializing in planning for the aged (they even have a couple of clients who have made it to 100), Raskob said that the firm "didn't start out targeting seniors. We worked with pre-retirement clients and, over time, they've became senior clients."

"We've all heard the horror stories about estate-planning failures by prominent persons like Howard Hughes and Jackie Onassis," Raskob said, adding that she will sometimes relate these to clients to stress the importance of taking some kind of action on major life changes before it's too late.

One new client told Raskob that the client's estate planning had been done recently, and Raskob found, when she checked, that the client's estate plan dated back to 1981. She told the client that changes were needed, and now Raskob reviews the estate plan--and those of all her clients--once a year.

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