Almost by definition, an advisor is someone who helps clients prepare for financial setbacks, retirement hurdles, the expenses of long-term ill health and other unforeseen events. But if the recent news flow hasn’t made it plain enough, disaster can take many forms and strike at any time. This makes the job all the more challenging.

Bank failures and catastrophic weather-related calamities scarcely figure into most financial plans. Even if they do, there can always be a new wrinkle, an unprecedented complexity, that scuttles the best intentions. So how can advisors better guide their clients through an unprecedented variety of potential perils?

Here are a few suggestions from seasoned advisors.

Beyond Cash For Living Expenses
“Supply-chain disruptions and geopolitical events have added a new wrinkle to the planning process,” says Rochelle Odesser, a financial planner at Madison Planning Group in White Plains, N.Y. “The idea of being prepared has evolved.”

For instance, the conventional wisdom holds that you should keep enough cash on hand for at least six months of living expenses—more if you’re retired or have health problems. But what happens if those savings are suddenly out of reach?

This could happen if you’re combating identity theft, say. Those affected by recent bank failures certainly found their funds temporarily locked up as federal authorities scrambled to make everyone whole. Extreme weather could also leave you short, stuck at home or even without a home, and unable to access your savings.

“Since each emergency is different, it’s challenging to always be fully prepared,” says Odesser. “If your account is frozen or you cannot get access to your money for any reason, I recommend keeping about one-half of one’s monthly living expenses in cash on hand.”

Convenient And Secure
Where and how you keep that handy cash can matter, too. It needs to be kept secure, says Matthew Marini, associate director of planning at Coastal Bridge Advisors in Westport, Conn. He suggests using a fireproof or flood-proof safe for cash and other valuables.

“Have ready access to credit,” he adds, “whether it be a credit card with a high spending limit or lines of credit secured by your home or investable securities.”

The central point is not just security but convenience. “Always keep cash hidden in your home and your car for emergencies,” says Carina Berlin, a wealth advisor at Kayne Anderson Rudnick in Santa Monica, Calif. “If there are major power outages, or you don’t have access to your checking accounts, bills in a variety of denominations will allow you to purchase food, gas or other supplies.”

Berlin recommends having at least $100 per person ready for such crises. Sometimes this can be augmented on relatively short notice, perhaps if you’re warned of an impending snowstorm or hurricane.

“If extreme weather is forecasted for your area, it may make sense to keep some cash available in a safe place, the same way people prepare by stocking up on food and other necessities,” says Ken Van Leeuwen, founder and managing director of Van Leeuwen & Co. in Princeton, N.J.

Other advisors go further, favoring the crypto markets. “More and more people are using cryptocurrency,” says Yon Perullo, CEO of RiXtrema, a Bend, Ore.-based provider of financial planning software.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and the like are volatile, of course, and no one should depend entirely on this non-paper money. But “some amount could be a good idea,” says Perullo. “The promise of crypto has always been the ability to have money held away from central banking systems.”

Savings Accounts
Besides having some form of cash on hand, analysts say it’s a good idea to diversify where your financial accounts are held. Keeping everything at one institution might simplify your life, but it has risks. In addition, different institutions are probably more appropriate for different needs anyway, they say.

“You should always have a relationship with multiple banks,” says Perullo. “This is not just because of [the recent failure of] Silicon Valley Bank. Banks have failed since there have been banks. If you have the luxury of having six months’ cash reasonably liquid in two banks, that’s great. But at the very least, you should have enough to weather a period of four to six weeks.” This, he says, would give the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) sufficient time to sort out accounts in the event of a bank failure.

As long as accounts are under $250,000, they are insured by the FDIC. This agency, created by the Banking Act of 1933 (signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt), was meant to stem a tide of panic-driven bank runs. It originally insured deposits of up to $2,500, but since 2008 it’s guaranteed accounts up to $250,000—and some in Washington want to raise that limit further.

Until the guarantee threshold is raised, if it ever is, it’s prudent to make sure no bank account is over $250,000. If you need to save more than that, advisors say to spread it across different guaranteed accounts. “Many banks and brokerage firms offer cash deposit programs that can [deposit] funds at different third-party FDIC insured banks to take advantage of the $250,000 limit at each institution,” says Marini.

Depending on your cash requirements, excess amounts could also be invested in short-term securities.

“For deposits over and above the FDIC insurance limits, consider utilizing short-term U.S. Treasurys or CDs to obtain an attractive yield and limit your uninsured deposit risk,” says Van Leeuwen.

Not All Banks Are Equal
Which banks you choose could also make a big difference. “If your primary bank is a small regional bank, consider opening a savings account at a national bank,” says Berlin at Kayne Anderson Rudnick. “If your savings is currently with a large bank, open a savings account at your local credit union.”

Credit union accounts aren’t FDIC-insured, but they are backed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which has the same $250,000 guarantee threshold.

Not all financial institutions are equally secure, she explains. “Before opening an account at any financial institution, do your homework to understand their privacy and security policies,” says Berlin. “Ask them what steps they take to protect your account and personal information, as well as any risks involved.”

Make sure your banks (and brokerages) have your correct, up-to-date address or addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, she says, so they can notify you in case of unintended activity. “Some also allow you to designate a trusted contact, such as a spouse or other family member, whom they can notify in case of emergency or suspected fraud,” she adds.

There’s no way to completely prevent fraud, of course, but some advisors recommend outside protection such as a credit monitoring service that will notify you if your personal information is compromised.

“This can give you a leg up on bad actors and keep you informed on the security of your accounts,” says Van Leeuwen.

Extra Measures
While all of these ideas may help, no one can safeguard against every vulnerability. Whatever fate may throw at you, planners often recommend keeping an up-to-date list of all financial assets and accounts in a home safe or safe deposit box.

“In the unfortunate event of sudden illness or death, this will help your loved ones manage your affairs or settle your estate,” says Berlin.

Advisors should also make sure that every client’s portfolio and insurance policies are well positioned for a variety of possible problems. “Create a diversified portfolio that can withstand a disaster locally or abroad,” says Coastal Bridge’s Marini. “Conduct a comprehensive review of your insurance policies to ensure there’s adequate coverage in the event of a disaster.”