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Understanding client needs at different life stages

This article is part of
Guide to generational financial planning

Understanding client needs at different life stages

Although the average age of an adviser’s client list may be someone in their 60s and older, financial advisers need to be prepared to discuss a range of financial goals for clients of any age.

It is safe to assume clients in the same age group will have similar needs but within that, they may require some nuanced advice and certainly will have varying levels of wealth at their disposal.

In other words, advisers are required to understand the needs of clients at possibly quite different stages of their lives and have a range of knowledge when it comes to financial products.

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Alison Treharne, chartered financial planner at Shore Financial Planning, acknowledges the majority of her clients are in their 60s and 70s and, as such, have accumulated wealth during their lifetimes.

Now the aim is to ensure it is maintained and to derive an income from it.

“This is vastly different from our younger clients who are still working and trying to grow their wealth,” she points out. 

“As their objectives are different, their tax planning and investment management needs will also be different.

“Ensuring you understand their objectives, or even helping them to understand their objectives, is the crux of the matter.”

Ms Treharne makes the point that very often the client may be seeking financial advice without knowing what their own goals are. This is certainly where the adviser comes into their own.

Colin Dyer, 1825’s national advice manager, says one of the great skills of a planner is to be able to identify and agree the client’s needs, then review them regularly as their client moves through different chapters of their life.

“Planners will help their clients differentiate between key needs and wants,” he explains. “For example, a client is approaching retirement and has a key objective of leaving a long-term legacy to their family.

“Good advice will typically help them determine their essential and discretionary income needs in the first instance, and then they can think about the legacy as an important, but secondary, objective.”

Seeing into the future

This highlights another of the important jobs of the adviser, which is to help clients prioritise.

Jade Connolly, head of advice at Ascot Lloyd, suggests: “Clients often seek financial advice when they feel they need help and guidance.

“This could be when first seeking a mortgage, after receiving an inheritance or for others, when they consider retiring.”

While the client might have a financial goal in mind, they may not know how to achieve it.

Ms Connolly also points out the need for the adviser to go beyond what has been asked of them by the client.

She explains: “As an adviser, it is important that we understand the reason the client has sought advice in the first instance but also ensure that we don’t limit our advice simply to the request prompted by the client.