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by Advisor Today on Apr 10, 2018 10:00:00 AM

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The Biggest Unmet Need for Consumers

Learn more about income planning and tax advice to help plan retirement for your consumers.

The Biggest Unmet Need for Consumers


As old rhythms of life fall by the wayside, goals-based wealth management is emerging as a means to accommodate competing life goals—like saving for a new home or a child’s college education.

the biggest unmet need for consumers

A new report reveals the biggest unmet consumer need among nine components in a goals-based wealth management program and the growing role of the spouse in retirement planning, according to Hearts & Wallets, the source for retail investor data and insights.


Retirement Income to Goals-Based Wealth Management provides a roadmap to transition from retirement income plans to goals-based wealth management using a consumer-oriented mindset. The report assesses the state of retirement income plans, plan status, inspirations and components through the eyes of older affluent consumers (age 53 years and older with $100,000+ investible assets), grouped by life stage, wealth group and customers of major firms. The report provides a point-in-time window into the state of goals-based wealth management at different firms and identifies customer demand for plan components within the categories of planning, investment and management.


Written by Hearts & Wallets, the report is one of the company’s Timely Topics, which cover new research on current industry themes, debates and emerging issues. The ideas and analysis are drawn from the latest fielding of the Hearts & Wallets Investor Quantitative™ Database (IQ™ Database).


Consumer engagement with traditional "retirement income planning" has declined over the past few years as households juggle multiple financial goals and grapple with when to stop full-time work, the report notes. In 2008, 82 percent said they had a "written plan" or "a solid idea," in comparison to 73 percent in 2016. As old rhythms of life, from pensions to firm retirement dates, fall by the wayside, goals-based wealth management emerges as a means to accommodate competing life goals, like saving for a new home or a child’s college education, and new lifestyles.


Of nine plan components, consumer need for a traditionally key component—"recommended selection of investments that will generate income in retirement"—has declined over time, even as demand has increased for other program components. The biggest unmet consumer need is "recommendations for minimizing taxes." Only 21 percent of consumers cite a need for investment selection, in comparison to 44 percent who say tax advice is an unmet need.


"The best plans holistically address the goals of the consumer rather than the firm’s goal to grow assets for retirement," Laura Varas, CEO and founder of Hearts & Wallets, said. "This mind shift creates the opportunity to transition robust retirement framework to goals-based wealth management and address unmet needs."


Before retirement, other pressing life goals eclipse retirement. In part, this shift is related to the changing nature of work and the growing disconnect between retirement savings programs and the employer. After retirement, consumers focus more on investment goals, with consumers of different asset classes having different goals.


Spouses becoming more important

Although "started thinking more about retiring" remains the most common inspiration for planning towards goals, the most surprising trend is that spouses are becoming more important, while advisors are decreasing in importance. The influence of "my spouse" jumped across all asset levels and across the industry in the survey. Spouses remain more influential than employers although the influence of the employer is higher at firms with strong defined-contribution businesses.


"Financial firms could engage customers more by focusing on the role of the spouse and the services that consumers want the most," Varas said. "Some firms already are doing a great job, as we are seeing in our quantitative research and our benchmarking of advice and guidance experiences. Success can be achieved by planning at the household level, including spouses and partners, and offering components that recognize the consumer desire to manage various aspects of the retirement income."


Retirement Income to Goals-Based Wealth Management is a timely topic insight module report that analyzes consumer attitudes and behaviors and analyzes the customer ratings for 19 big banks, brokerages, employer and mutual fund firms cited most often by over 5,000 participants in the most recent fielding of the Hearts & Wallets Investor Quantitative Database™ (IQ Database™), which contains over 40,000 households since 2010.


This article appeared in Advisor Today


Topics: Lead Generation