Ahhh, the holidays. While many people look forward to the fall and winter months with anticipation for hot chocolate, family dinners, and tree-lighting ceremonies, others dread this time of year. It’s likely that you have some clients in your book who fall into this category, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to show them your true value by helping them through this time of year. Here are four ways to lend a hand.
The holidays can be a big drain on your clients’ finances. Whether they tend to overspend on gifts for family and friends, drop thousands on plane tickets to visit their kids, or just get a little carried away with decorations and parties, your clients may routinely dig themselves holes that take months to recover from. If one member of the couple is a big spender and the other isn’t, you may also have to help them figure out how to navigate the holiday spending together without fighting. Meet with your clients before the holidays get into full swing to go over their budget for the next few months. Identify where they can save without taking any fun out of the season and help them see how they can come together as a couple to enhance their enjoyment.
Dealing with Emotions
As a fiduciary, you are much more than just a financial planner to your clients. If you do your job properly, you also act as a counselor. Many people don’t deal well with the holidays, and you may have clients who get anxious or depressed as they approach. Though you don’t want to make the mistake of taking too much responsibility for how they feel, you can pay attention and help those who seem to be struggling. Take special notice of recently widowed clients or those who have had children recently move out of the home as these are triggers for holiday depression. Try to draw them out and help them talk about how they feel. If you find they are having an especially tough time, this might be a good chance to refer them to a therapist.
Unfortunately, many family issues come to the surface during the holidays. Family discord can not only ruin the holidays for your clients, but it can also cause deeper fissures that have long-lasting consequences. The forced closeness and expectations of the holiday season can cause simmering family issues to boil over. Ask your clients when you meet with them about their family plans and identify those who may be experiencing these issues. Help them talk through the dilemma and, if possible, bring in other members of the family and mediate some honest discussions. Again, if the problems run too deep, it might be time to refer them to a family therapist.
Planning for the New Year
Since the new year is right on the heels of the holidays, it takes a lot of people by surprise and they find they aren’t prepared. Help your clients start making plans well before New Year’s eve hits. Go over budgets, goals, and schedules for 2019 and make sure they have everything in place early so they can relax and enjoy the holiday season. Once January 1st rolls around and they see everyone else scrambling to get things into place, they’ll be relieved that you helped them be proactive!
While the holidays can present many opportunities for joy and connection, they can also be landmines for discord, sadness, and financial disasters. By helping your clients navigate this potentially tough time, you’ll show them your value and deepen your relationship.
When you become a mentor to your clients, deeply understand them, and guide them toward a better future, then you’ve learned the ways of a financial caregiver. You’ve come to know what it means to be a true purveyor of advice, and how to use money as a conduit to a more fulfilling life for yourself and those you serve.