Plenty of people make New Year’s resolutions. According to yougov, 34% of Americans do, and of those resolution makers, 52% are under age 30—a statistic that can help advisors copy with younger generations. As an FYI, statistics show 9% of Americans actually keep them, with 43% quitting before February starts. These resolutions were made with the best of intentions. Kept or not, they could provide a motivating factor when talking about investments.

Looking back at the yougov survey, what are the most popular resolutions and how do they connect with investing themes? Where does financial planning fit in?

1. Saving more money (23%). This has an obvious connection to investing. If your client (or their adult child) saves more, they have more money to invest.
Proactive steps: They should contribute as much as possible to their 401(k) at work, at least maxing out the company match. They should fund their IRA accounts, since this reduces their taxable income. Are they getting a bonus right now? What will happen to it? If they are paid on straight salary or wages, how about starting a dollar cost averaging program, funded with monthly contributions.

2. Improving physical health (21%). What does that mean? Do they need to pay more attention to preexisting conditions? Start seeing the doctor or dentist more often? They may be thinking about themselves, but this concern can also apply to family members.
Proactive steps: This can be approached from two directions. First, start by making an appointment for an annual checkup with their family doctor and dentist. What kind of health insurance do they carry? Is it adequate for their needs? From an investing perspective, the entire population is getting older. Baby boomers are ages 60-78 today. As we age, we need more health care. What stock sectors benefit from this trend? What does your firm say?

3. Exercising more (21%). Going to the gym is a social as well as a physical activity. Some people prefer to exercise at home. Does your client’s employer offer a gym membership or reimbursement benefit? Has your client bought a spin bike and have a subscription for an online exercise program? Are they using it? What is it costing?
Proactive steps: From an investing standpoint, January is the month exercise is promoted on TV. You see plenty of ads for new in-home exercise systems. Is fitness an investing theme? What does your firm say?

4. Eating healthier (20%). Like living within a budget, eating healthy is easier in theory than in actual practice. It is easier when considered in isolation, but tough when you go out with friends on the weekend.
Proactive steps: Has your client considered an organized weight loss program, which includes going to meetings and eating certain foods? Does your client’s employer offer nutrition counseling? Is eating healthier and investment theme? Are companies focused or organic food good investments? What does your research department think?

5. Losing weight (19%). One of the biggest news stories today concerns drugs that can help you lose weight. Losing wight without much diet and exercise might seem miraculous, but the drugs are expensive, and you might need to use them forever. Diet and exercise are the traditional ways to lose weight and have the benefit of low cost.
Proactive steps: If your client is taking the diet and exercise route, does it make sense for them to hire a coach? From an investment viewpoint, what does your firm think about the new weight loss drugs and the firms producing them? Are there others in the pipeline? You research department should have an opinion.

6. Improving mental health (19%). Stress effects everyone. Statistics show 74% of Americans have felt stressed, primarily older people (30%) vs. younger people (7%). Depression is a major concern.
Proactive steps: It has been said one of the best ways to reduce stress at the start of the day is not to step on the bathroom scale and not watching the morning news on TV. Mental health is a subject the client should discuss in confidence with their family doctor. From an investing perspective, technology has been playing a role. Venture capital firms have been putting money behind mental health apps. What major companies are active in this field? What does your firm’s research department think?

7. Learning something new (16%). This can involve learning a new skill that can benefit their career prospects. It might involve going back to school for an advanced degree. What does their firm offer in education benefits?
Proactive steps: From an investing viewpoint, this can involve taking a greater interest in their investments, understanding how the economy and the stock market function and what makes certain stocks good investments.

8. Paying down debts. (13%) Debt is like fat. Easy to gain, difficult to shed. It also embarrasses us. No one wants to talk about how much debt or excess weight they are carrying. Inertia is powerful. It is easier to keep going in the same direction than change course.
Proactive steps: This is a financial planning issue. Your client should start by understanding where their money is going every month. They need to know how much debt they are carrying and what different debt is costing them. They need to free up cash to pay down debt. This involves budgeting. They need to pay down high interest credit card debt first. From an investing perspective, how do credit card companies make money? What are the risks? What does your firm’s research department think?

If a client has a commitment towards achieving a goal in 2024, that passion could influence their investing strategy too. Is it a good idea? As their advisor, you can help them do research and act as their sounding board.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book Captivating the Wealthy Investor is available on Amazon.