I’m set in my ways…

July 20, 2018

I recently spent a long weekend with my 86 year old father.  Probably not your typical, or maybe he is, 86 year old.  Pretty decent health, at least that I can tell.  And since he won’t go to the doctor, visual observation is about all you get.  Speaking of visual, you sort of check his vision as he gets himself around.  Seems pretty good there.  Hearing?  Not as good.  But he’ll not admit it.  So everything around the house is just a little louder.  He still drives and actually, while we only had one incident (exiting the shopping center from the inbound lane…but hey, we’ve all done that one at least once right?) he did well as I let him drive everywhere allowing me to silently make an assessment.  Most of the conversations are preferred to be less than heavy.  “Can you help me with this” or something about the weather.  But it was incumbent on me to bring up the important discussions we needed to have.  Like his in-home care. Which means more expense.  And his overall financial health.  That means a very difficult discussion knowing how quiet this generation is about these things.

The in-home visits and support actually went pretty well.  Not great but better than I expected as I don’t want to see him give up that interaction and the activities he receives from the service.  It’s really the only long term interaction in the house that he gets other than a relationship with the pet feline.

The financial discussion, on the other hand, went differently.  This was tough.  He’s literally assigned management of his investments, 401K and annuities over to his financial advisor of many years and barely looks at what’s going on.  (Full disclosure here.  I do have POA and do keep an eye on it as well.)  As we continue the dialogue and my interest in being helpful and supportive, I’m stressing the need for him to really take a bit more active role in what’s going on.  Even though he trusts this guy implicitly, one never knows.  Especially with the proliferation of elder abuse that occurs in so many ways.  The line that would come up whenever I would suggest some sort of change, revision or simply more involvement was, “I’m set in my ways.  I’m not going to change how I’ve been doing things.”

How many of your clients at any age, are “set in their ways” and simply allowing you to control their assets?  Is it a good policy?  Can they be motivated to look at options that may be better for them?  How many just don’t want to rock the boat or upset the apple cart?

One thing I found that provided dad talking points, and surprisingly correct information was that he was a weekend radio listener and really enjoyed the talk radio station financial programs.  He also gets the paper daily and was paying attention to the market and particular stocks.  That was all only good for loose conversation and not action.  But could it influence activity given the proper contact and persistence in delivery?  I think so.

For the many clients “Set in their ways” your radio show, maybe your podcast could be the tool that nudges them out of that comfort zone and into action.  Or at least into questioning what’s going on with their investment portfolio.  The over 65 crowd is very likely to be a strong and solid talk radio listener and those that are engaged enough to ask questions would be welcome for the effort and interest.  Even if they’re not in control of the assets, it presents an opportunity to bring them into the conversation and begin the process of making something happen that should be in their best interest.

As a fiduciary, I would imagine one of the most challenging elements in sharing information that requires, or should require, action and then goes nowhere has to be a very difficult situation.  It would seem that anything that could elicit more activity for the right reasons could work wonders to provide those clients exactly what it is they should be doing.  Advisors Prep, if nothing else, helps steer content ideas with  back up and support to better engage existing customers through broadcast shows and podcasts.  It’s one thing to have a client let you know they’re not likely to make much effort to change but as a business person, you don’t want to be the one saying “I’m to set in my ways…”