Coming off of a very busy year and working up to midnight on New Year’s Eve has given us some insight as to what lies ahead. We assumed that many of our colleagues had a last minute rush from clients to do quick fix year-end planning and perhaps there were many more who did not. In large part it may have been due to the message planners were sending to their clients as well as the year-long media hype around the expiration of the tax cuts and fiscal cliff saga. In any event, this insight may help you to choose a different message in 2013.
For InKnowVision’s advisors and their clients our message is always to plan for what you can control, leverage or mitigate today. The crystal ball approach has never worked for us. There is a level of planning risk from a client’s perspective that they are willing to tolerate and that risk can only be measured and decided on when clients can see the proposed results. Things like increased current cash flow, income tax planning and asset protection are easily measured and monitored. Having these in place can help build the bridge to estate, business and charitable planning.
We have found that education is key as are the advisors who serve HNW clients. Our success has been driven by our message, “Tell us what you would like to do today and we will do our best to design a plan that meets your goals and expectations. Every year we will measure, monitor and make adjustments, if necessary, to reflect your changing goals and current tax law.” This message is the difference, in our experience, between success and failure. Planning is about a client’s goals, not ours or government’s.
This month, take time to reflect on your successes and failures. Break them down client by client. Be sure to acknowledge why your clients felt success or why they experienced failure and put the reasons on a white board where you and your staff can see them. You may see a recurring theme evolve right in front of your eyes.
- What message were you sending?
- Were you telling them what to do because of the potential expiration of tax laws?
- Were you asking them if any thing was keeping them awake at night?
- Were they worried about cash flow or a troubled adult child?
- Was their business at risk or were they contemplating a sale?
There are many unasked and unanswered questions. This year make it a point to start anew. Find a message that resonates with your clients and motivates them to do great planning. Be sure to share that message with your referral sources so they can use it too. Make it a New Year’s resolution.
Do something unexpected.
Wishing you success in 2013,