Skyrocketing inflation and fear of a possible recession create both challenges and opportunities for financial advisors. By properly personalizing their recommendations to each client situation, advisors can better help them stay on track to meet long-term financial goals.
“In an era where social obligations and interactions often require spending money, financial advisors should not be surprised when their clients say they cannot reduce some kinds of nonessential spending,” said Randy Scritchfield, CFP, LUTCF, immediate past president of Million Dollar Roundtable ( MDRT). “Rather than attempting a one-size-fits-all solution, advisors must meet clients where they are and find the best fit for their holistic well-being.””
Only 26% of Americans said their personal financial situation has improved in the past year, and 76% are concerned about a recession occurring in the year ahead, MDRT found in a survey. As consumers brace for a possible financial downturn, advisors must provide realistic, actionable advice specific to each client’s financial objectives, abilities and limitations.
Among the other findings:
- Only 18% of Americans said they have received a raise in the past year that made up for inflation. Men (23%) were significantly more likely than women (15%) to report a raise in real terms.
- Another 29% said they received a raise that did not make up for inflation, and a 38% said their wages have not changed in the past year; 7% said their wages decreased in the past year.
- When asked to name their top three increased expenses for essential goods, 78% of Americans chose groceries, 70% said gas prices and 39% pointed to their electric bills.
- Certain other expenses fell harder on different demographic groups; 27% of Generation Z and 22% of millennials identified rising housing costs, while 17% of Americans with at-home dependents identified child care.
- Under this increased financial stress, only 38% of Americans said they have at least six months of income in easily accessible savings, with significant differences among racial groups.
Many personal finance experts tend to make broad recommendations to households
under financial stress about how to cut spending. However, the survey found that many Americans reject such recommendations or say they are not applicable to their individual situation. This underscores the need for advisors to avoid giving universal guidance.
Given the current economic environment, one of the best strategies for advisors is to help clients take the first steps to protect their finances against future uncertainty.
“The possibility of recession has clearly come home for most Americans, and consumers are looking for ways to stanch the bleeding,” said Greg Gagne, ChFC, first vice president of MDRT. “Building a sufficient emergency fund is a critical first step toward long-term financial security, and financial advisors will have to get creative to help their clients reach the first benchmark.”