Senior Couple Signing Documents

Three Important Reasons You Need to Talk to Your Clients about Aging this Holiday Season

The holidays are not simply a season of gift giving, parties and family festivities. They’re also a time for reflection and preparation – for resolutions, making lists and considering financial plans for the new year and beyond.

When people focus on their personal and family finances, saving, investing and long-term planning are usually on the agenda. But one of the most important financial considerations is frequently left off the list: planning for aging and taking steps to mitigate the potential for diminished financial capacity.

As financial advisors set planning meetings with clients to prepare for 2016, it is vital for this important topic to be at the top of the holiday season agenda. In fact, new research from Fidelity Investments found that three-quarters of financial advisors are working with clients with diminished capacity, and one in five advisors has encountered some form of financial abuse involving their older clients.

If you’re not convinced that it’s time to talk to your clients about how aging might affect their financial health, here are a few more reasons you should have this important conversation sooner rather than later.

  1. The holidays can be a particularly risky time for seniors. In a 2011 study, MetLife Mature Market Institute evaluated reports of elder abuse in the news during a November-January timeframe, and found that 1 in 3 articles concerned elder financial abuse. The holidays can be a time of heightened emotion and distraction – when a busy schedule of parties and gatherings often replaces familiar routines. Gift-giving often strains bank and credit accounts, and fraudulent transactions may go unnoticed. Toss in the many charity scams, and the holiday season creates a perfect storm for financial exploitation.Whether or not clients have exhibited diminished capacity, financial advisors should take proactive steps to counsel them about increased financial risk during the holiday season.
  1. The population is aging…and many seniors are vulnerable. With the fastest growing aging demographic to date, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is quickly increasing. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may nearly triple, from 5.1 million to a projected 13.8 million.Encouraging clients to think about protecting their finances now, before diminished capacity becomes an issue will help them set the stage for a healthy and robust financial future.
  1. No one is invincible, when it comes to financial capacity. No one wants to think about the eventuality of their own cognitive decline. But the truth is, diminished financial capacity happens slowly, usually starting in one’s 50s. Waiting until there is a diagnosis of dementia before putting financial plans in place can be a very costly mistake. And talking to your older clients’ adult children about protecting their parents’ assets will instill confidence in your guidance and encourage them to protect themselves as well.

EverSafe is a tool that enables advisors to have these conversations with a solution in hand. Trusted family members and/or financial advisors can receive alerts, along with members, to serve as an “extra set of eyes” in the monitoring of bank and investment accounts and credit reports. EverSafe has collaborated with Fidelity Investments to offer discounted scam, fraud and identity theft protection for financial advisor’s clients – whether they are struggling with diminished capacity or not. Read more about the relationship, and view some tips to help you tee up the aging conversation with your clients.

Conversations about aging can be challenging – particularly during the holiday season. But these can be positive, productive discussions when financial advisors provide actionable tips and effective tools to make it easy for clients to protect their financial futures.