Has a client ever said to you, “That’s exactly what I was thinking?”  Or, “I never thought about it like that.”  Nailing a client’s thought process and giving them something new to think about are measures advisors should employ to help gauge how well they’re serving their target market, adding value and addressing the client’s personal situation.

Unfortunately, not every client exposes their full hand to their financial advisor. They often hold something back, be it aspirations, concerns or even assets.  Thanks in part to the bad apples in our industry, some prospects and new clients adopt a wait-and-see attitude. They may want to see if you’re on the same pages as them, if you’re different than other advisors, or even whether or not they actually need your advice.

That makes it crucial to uncover what’s going on in the hearts and minds of your clients, and more so, bring those ideas and concerns out into the open, and then integrate them into their retirement plans. 

The following is a short list of recommendations designed to spark conversations, uncover business opportunities and develop client loyalty like never before. Discussions that elicit comments such as, “I’m glad to hear you say that,” “We feel the same way,” and “That’s exactly what I was thinking.”  These are simple steps advisors can take to move client relationships outside the confines of asset allocation and withdrawal rates and influence them like never before. 

Get A Pet
Dogs and cats aren’t traditional retirement planning topics, but owning a pet can be one of the best moves a retiree makes. One couple I know said adopting a dog is the best retirement investment they’ve made. In addition to providing unconditional love, their dog keeps them active with walks every day and has improved their social life by making it easier for them to meet new neighbors. 

Research further suggests pets give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Companionship combats feelings of loneliness, boosting a client’s overall mood and even increases their joy and happiness. Studies by the CDC and National Institute of Health (NIH) also point to health benefits, noting that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels -- all of which can minimize the risk of a heart attack.

Advisors can even turn this topic into an educational session by suggesting clients consider adopting a pet from a local shelter as a meaningful way to personalize the concept of socially responsible investing. 

Start A Business 
This is one of the most powerful trends to hit retirement since its original inception. A Metlife study found that approximately 25 million people (one in four Americans ages 44 to 70) are interested in starting a business or not-for-profit venture in the next five to 10 years. AARP’s research isolates the trend among boomers, suggesting that over half of the 76 million U.S. baby boomers have an interest in entrepreneurship.

Those are seismic numbers that advisors can’t ignore. The interest within my own client base has led me to develop a guide and workshop titled, Starting A Business For Retirement Income.  Nearly every time I bring the concept up, clients and prospects respond with something along the lines of, “We’ve talked about that, but weren’t really not sure what to do or how to get started.” Most advisors not only run their own business but also have clients who own small businesses, so their knowledge can really help guide others interested in entrepreneurship. 

It’s a major paradigm shift from full-time retirement or even working part time, yet supports some of the deepest desires of retiring baby boomers, including the need to stay relevant, connected, mentally sharp and to have an impact on others. That doesn’t mean advisors have to become experts on business funding or corporate tax structure; it simply means finding useful tools to help clients better understand what starting a business entails and the role it can play in their retirement.