Our last few articles have focused on helping planners and advisors improve their own organization and productivity. Today, we’re sharing some ways you can help your clients get organized.
Our first suggestion is to provide or help your clients put together a Personal Financial Organizer. Having their most important documents in one place can be useful when buying a home, filling out FASFA forms, planning for retirement or managing the many tasks that come with the passing of a loved one.
The Personal Financial Organizer can be a binder, a set of folders or an expandable file set up with tabs or labels to hold the following types of documents and resources
- General records―birth, marriage, divorce statements; education & military records; Social Security annual statement
- Employment records; benefit statements; retirement plan statements
- Financial or wealth plan
- Financial statements―net worth; income/expenses; bank & investment statements
- Real estate―property descriptions; mortgage statements; tax records; appraisals
- Liabilities―creditor contact information and statements
- Medical―health insurance; medical POA; healthcare directives
- Insurance―life; property & casualty; disability; long-term care
- Tax records―Federal and State
- Legal―general POA; wills & trusts
- Beneficiaries―all beneficiary designations
- Instructions for the family
Encourage your clients to bring their organizer to your review meetings. You can review it with them, ask about any changes that may have occurred, and help them keep the contents up-to-date. Clients appreciate your extra attention to helping them keep their financial records in order.
You can also provide a short (1-2 pages) Wealth Planning Topics checklist, updated periodically with last review dates and notes from that review to help them stay on top of items that should be reviewed periodically, such as beneficiaries and insurance coverage. Put a copy in their organizer, and then send updated versions as various topics are discussed and action items completed. (If you would like a copy of our Wealth Planning Topics checklist template, send me an email.)
Now is a good time to organize a tax package – with 1099s, cost basis, and other tax-related information – for them to take or send to their CPA or tax preparer. Or better yet, get their permission to forward it directly to their preparer.
By helping your clients organize their financial lives, you provide an extra level of service they wouldn’t get elsewhere, as well something tangible to mention whenever a friend or family member asks about their financial advisor.