Ashar Group http://ashargroup.com Secondary Market Experts Fri, 23 Jun 2017 08:01:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://ashargroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/cropped-128-32x32.png Ashar Group http://ashargroup.com 32 32 4 Tips for Building Stronger Connections with Your Retired Clients http://ashargroup.com/4-tips-building-stronger-connections-retired-clients/ Fri, 23 Jun 2017 08:00:37 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=4023 Financial advising is so much more than simply helping people decide what to do with their money. You need to have empathy, a problem-solving attitude, and an ability to read between the lines in order to discern what’s important to your client, even when he or she isn’t saying it outright. In short, you’ve got […]

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image of senior couple sitting in their home looking over papers with a financial advisorFinancial advising is so much more than simply helping people decide what to do with their money.

You need to have empathy, a problem-solving attitude, and an ability to read between the lines in order to discern what’s important to your client, even when he or she isn’t saying it outright.

In short, you’ve got to be a people person – someone who’s able both to put people at ease and relate to their needs, whatever those may be.

If this isn’t the most natural thing for you, don’t worry – there’s plenty you can do to help yourself develop these skills. Here are 4 tips for building stronger connections with your retired clients.

Get to know them early on in the relationship.

Your first meeting with a new retired client should involve a lot more than going over spreadsheets.

During that first appointment, you want to get a wide-ranging view of your client’s background, and not just his or her financial one. How long have they been retired? What is their family situation? What kind of retirement lifestyle do they want for themselves? What are their values?

By getting the full picture of your client as a person, you’ll be in a much better position to help them make the right financial decisions. And just as importantly, asking these kinds of personal questions will let your client know that you care about him or her. That will immediately make it easier for your client to trust you.

Use technology to your advantage.

Technology and the ability to gather huge amounts of data is making it easier than ever before to give your clients truly personalized financial recommendations.

Use these abilities to your advantage by integrating data from various sources into your advising. Utilize predictive analytics regularly to gain a more accurate view of how your client’s accounts are doing, what changes might need to be made, and whether or not a retired client might need to supplement their retirement fund with a life settlement or part-time job.

Continue to ask “powerful” questions throughout the relationship.

As authors Chris White and Richard Koonce write in their book Working with the Emotional Investor: Financial Psychology for Wealth Managers, financial advisors can further deepen their connections with clients by asking “powerful” questions.

These are open-ended questions that invite honest, thoughtful responses from your clients. For example, you could ask a retiree what he or she believes his or her responsibility is to social causes or charities. You might ask what their vision is for their finances.

Another powerful question is to ask how certain emotions and values influence the way they think about their finances.

Remember, their answers might evolve over time, so you may want to go back over some of these questions now and then – particularly when a major life event occurs, like the birth of a grandchild, the death of a spouse, or the marriage of a child.

Be your client’s advocate.

Everyone needs an advocate, especially when it comes to something as important as finances. Aging clients, especially, can become financially vulnerable quite quickly. All it takes is a medical event like a fall, or a need to enter long-term care to drastically change someone’s financial outlook.

Unfortunately, seniors are also vulnerable to being financially taken advantage of by “friends” and even unscrupulous family members. Navigating these situations takes a great deal of sensitivity and tact, but you owe it to your older clients to be on the lookout for potential problems.

Building strong connections with your retired clients takes time and attention, but it’s absolutely worth it. Not only will it help improve your reputation – it will also make your work infinitely more fulfilling.

To learn more about client-advisor relationships, read “3 Ways to Build Trust with Reticent Clients.”

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Why Relationships Matter to Ashar http://ashargroup.com/relationships-matter-ashar/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:25:24 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=4018 At Ashar, we’ve got one motto that guides every aspect of our business: Do what is right, and you will be blessed. It’s so integral to our way of thinking, in fact, that we named our business after it – that’s what ‘ashar,’ a Biblical term, means. We’ve spent our years in the life settlement […]

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At Ashar, we’ve got one motto that guides every aspect of our business: Do what is right, and you will be blessed. It’s so integral to our way of thinking, in fact, that we named our business after it – that’s what ‘ashar,’ a Biblical term, means.

We’ve spent our years in the life settlement industry working to build strong, trusting relationships with the people we serve. It comes naturally to us – after all, we started this business as a family.

And we don’t just mean that figuratively, although we do like to think of our staff as family. Our leadership team includes co-founders and brothers Jon and Jason Mendelsohn, and their sister, Jamie Mendelsohn.

The Mendelsohns know the power and value of lasting relationships, and they’ve brought that knowledge into the business. So when we embark on that initial phone call with a financial advisor, trustee, or insurance advisor who’s interested in learning more about the life settlement market, we proceed with honesty, respect, and integrity.

We’re not interested in the “one and done” approach. We’re in it for the long haul.

We think this is especially important in the life settlement industry, which is still largely misunderstood by many – even those who’ve been in financial services for decades.

Unfortunately, the life settlement industry grew out of under tragic circumstances. During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, chronically ill patients were faced with skyrocketing medical bills, as well as the likelihood of a dramatically shortened life span. Selling their life insurance policies to pay those healthcare costs made sense, and these transactions were called viatical settlements.

Sadly, some of these people were sorely taken advantage of by unscrupulous investors who paid the policy owners far less than was fair. There was little regulation at the time, so that meant there was also no recourse for those who suffered.

Thankfully, the life settlement industry has matured since then, and it’s now a well-regulated, established market.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still life settlement brokers and life settlement providers who operate based on their own best interest, rather than that of their clients.

If you ask us, the reason we’ve become leaders in our field is that we take our responsibility to our clients very seriously.

After all, there’s an individual, maybe a family, behind every life settlement we broker. That person could be a business owner who’s selling a “key person” insurance policy, and is working hard to keep a company going after that key person leaves.

That person could be an elderly father who can no longer receive the care that he needs at home, and needs to enter a long-term care facility.

Or maybe it’s a retiree who’s having trouble making ends meet during their second decade of retirement.

Every policyowner we work with has a different story and a different set of circumstances, but they almost universally share one thing in common: they’re going through a challenging period in their lives.

With every life settlement we broker, we know that we’re being given an opportunity to serve.

Maybe that means helping a family access funds to pay for a home health aide, so mom or dad can age in peace. Maybe it means giving a nonprofit the ability to convert a donated life insurance policy into cash that they need now, not in 10 years. Maybe it means giving a retired couple financial peace of mind.

Whatever the opportunity may be, it’s these realities that make what we do meaningful. It’s why we hold ourselves to such high ethical standards. It’s why we place value on every relationship we develop.

Learn more about the values that guide us here, and if you’d like to start building a relationship with our company today, give us a call.

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Seniors Still in Need of Trustworthy Advice from Experienced Financial Advisors http://ashargroup.com/seniors-still-need-trustworthy-advice-experienced-financial-advisors/ Fri, 16 Jun 2017 06:53:02 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=4005 These days, much industry talk in the financial advising industry is about the importance of attracting Millennial clients. Since there is a substantial number of high earners in this age group, the logic goes, they’re in need of experienced financial advice; and on the flip side, cultivating these younger clients can help grow an advisor’s […]

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portrait of a smiling, blond financial advisor with glasses

These days, much industry talk in the financial advising industry is about the importance of attracting Millennial clients. Since there is a substantial number of high earners in this age group, the logic goes, they’re in need of experienced financial advice; and on the flip side, cultivating these younger clients can help grow an advisor’s revenue.

While that may certainly all be true, that doesn’t mean that financial advisors should be overlooking the great need that seniors have, and will continue to have, for their services.

With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 in the U.S. every day, as well as the many more who are either retired already or are planning their imminent retirement, seniors are in dire need of sound financial advice – the kind that only an experienced financial advisor can give. Here are a few reasons why financial advisors are so important for this demographic.

Too often, seniors are the target of financial misinformation, deception, or outright fraud.

It remains an unfortunate truth that no matter how savvy one may be, we’re all susceptible to scams. Seniors are singled out for these dishonest schemes more often than almost any other group because they’re seen as an easy target.

While some of these scams are fairly elementary, others are surprisingly sophisticated. As a financial advisor, you can help protect your senior clients from falling prey to people who would like to wipe out their retirement fund and life savings.

Seniors often have financial options that they aren’t aware of that can help them pad a retirement fund, pay for long-term care, or cover catastrophic medical bills.

As people continue to live longer lives, the chances of running through a retirement fund, or needing costly medical or long-term care are increasing. At the same time, countless seniors’ financial legacies were destroyed during the Great Recession, leaving them with little to fall back on.

This is an especially frightening possibility for seniors, who’ve worked their entire lives to ensure their financial stability and whose peak earning years are behind them.

And while many people aren’t aware of it, there are viable options for generating additional income during this time of life (in addition to starting a business or taking on a second career, of course).

If a senior has a life insurance policy that he or she no longer needs – perhaps the premiums are way too high, or the person’s spouse has died, or the children for whom the policy was to provide are grown up and self-sufficient – that policy could be liquidated in a life settlement transaction.

Working through a life settlement broker like Ashar, you and your client would sell the qualifying life insurance policy on the Secondary Market to investors.

By using our proprietary tools to establish the fair market value of the policy and then creating a bidding war among investors, your client receives the best possible offer for their policy – which is often many, many times higher than the amount your client would receive if he or she simply surrendered the policy for its cash value.

For example, one of our clients, a 79-year-old male with a $750,000 Universal Life insurance policy decided to sell his policy in order to enhance his retirement fund and pay for his healthcare costs.

The policy’s cash surrender value was $3,800. When we took it on and sold it on the Secondary Market, we were able to secure a value of $175,000. The man received a lump sum of cash which he was then able to use as he pleased. (Read more of our case studies here.)

This option can be a lifesaver for financially stressed seniors or their families, who often are helping to carry the burden of care by either being caregivers themselves, or contributing monetarily to a parent’s long term care.

Despite all the talk about the importance of attracting a younger clientele, financial advisors need to know that their senior clients need their advice now more than ever. To learn more, read our post “How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Their Senior Clients.”

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Want to Serve Your Clients Better? Improve Your Cybersecurity Practices http://ashargroup.com/want-serve-clients-better-improve-cybersecurity-practices/ Fri, 02 Jun 2017 07:44:54 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3985 As a financial advisor, you have access to your clients’ most sensitive personal details. From account numbers to net worth, Social Security numbers, and family history, your servers are full of information that, in the wrong hands, could spell catastrophe for the people who’ve entrusted it to you. That’s why data security is such a […]

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As a financial advisor, you have access to your clients’ most sensitive personal details.

From account numbers to net worth, Social Security numbers, and family history, your servers are full of information that, in the wrong hands, could spell catastrophe for the people who’ve entrusted it to you.

That’s why data security is such a crucial topic for financial advisors. Yet despite the risks, a large number of financial advisors don’t fully understand how to mitigate those risks, or how to deal with a cybersecurity crisis.

At least, that’s according to a report by the Financial Planning Association’s Research and Practice Institute. The report found that only 40 percent of financial advisors feel that they fully understand the issues and risks around cybersecurity, while just 29 percent believe they’re fully prepared to mitigate and manage cybersecurity risks.

In today’s digital world, that’s just not adequate. Here are a few critical points that you or your firm should be addressing.

Don’t rely on consumer-grade security products to protect your clients’ information.

Larger financial advising firms generally use specialized software or hire an IT firm to handle their cybersecurity.

However, if yours doesn’t, or if you’re an independent advisor, you may be relying on the same level of security that the rest of us use when we’re buying a kitchen mixer from our favorite store.

That’s not to say that Google and other companies that store sensitive data aren’t doing a good job with cybersecurity. But in the financial industry it’s simply not enough. If you really want your clients’ data to be secure, you should seriously consider hiring an IT firm to provide specialized services like firewalls, antivirus programs, secure remote access, and encryption.

Have a plan for how to dispose of a client’s information if they leave your firm.

It doesn’t matter to a hacker whether the data you have is for current or former clients. Once a client leaves or passes away, you must have a plan for how to permanently and securely dispose of their personal information.

That’s fairly easy with paper records, as shredding is standard office practice. But how do you dispose of electronic records?

Electronic records require two steps to be properly disposed of: sanitization and disposal. An IT firm can help you ensure that you complete both of these steps properly.

But there’s more to it than the disposal itself. Where is all this data stored? Are there any thumb drives that you may have forgotten about that contain client files? Are there any employee desktops or laptops that might contain downloaded information?

You’ve got to be absolutely thorough when it comes to stored client data – otherwise, you run great risk of a breach.

Be extremely cautious about who has access to client information. 

Unless you’re an independent advisor who works alone, chances are there’s someone else in your firm who has access to your client’s information.

This is often necessary – after all, if you’re on vacation in the Bahamas and one of your clients has an immediate need, it’s nice to have someone else on hand who can help them.

But it’s important to be selective about who can access what. Does the receptionist need access to your clients’ account numbers? Probably not.

The issue is not so much a matter of trust, but of vulnerability. While it’s doubtful that your receptionist would intentionally compromise client data, he or she could fall victim to an email scam that results in a criminal getting his or her email password. If that’s the same password he or she uses to get into your secure system, your data is no longer secure.

Develop a Written Information Security Plan, or WISP.

The best way to ensure that the data you’re entrusted with is secure is to develop a Written Information Security Plan, or WISP.

A WISP is a document that outlines what information a firm has, what systems (both technological and administrative) are in place to protect that information, who has access to it, what will be done in the event of a breach, and more.

Once your WISP is in place, remember to review it every two or three years, or any time you make a change that could affect it – switching cloud providers, for example, or moving from the cloud to on-premise servers.

Data security should be of paramount importance to financial advisors. For more on improving your client services, read our post “How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Their Senior Clients.”

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How Big Data is Changing the Financial Advising Industry http://ashargroup.com/big-data-changing-financial-advising-industry/ Fri, 19 May 2017 15:21:54 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3965 What’s the big deal with big data? The overwhelming amount of data now available, and the progressively complicated technology that comes with it, has not only transformed our lives, but also the way industries function and compete. With over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily, the time has come to figure out how best […]

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What’s the big deal with big data?

The overwhelming amount of data now available, and the progressively complicated technology that comes with it, has not only transformed our lives, but also the way industries function and compete.

With over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily, the time has come to figure out how best to collect, process and analyze this data — and one industry that’s getting on board with using big data for valuable insight is financial advising. That can mean a few things for financial advisors and how they go about helping their clients.

Here are several ways that big data is changing the financial advising industry.

Enabling business growth 

A good place to start using big data this year: analyzing your own customer records to identify accounts that need more care and attention. This will allow you to become not only more cost-efficient, but also more effective at advising your clients.

You can also use big data to track your own performance, and to forecast [what?], monitor risks, and increase revenue.

Integration 

Big data is enabling integration between trade, portfolio management, and countless advisor applications, which is proving to be a massive, unprecedented benefit. Further big data platforms will only strengthen benefits as they inevitably emerge.

Predictive analytics 

The sky is the limit when it comes to big data. Making sense of collected insight can mean transformations for entire industries.

Everyday devices enable data to be sent and received — think Fitbit, smart-home sensors, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Venmo, and more — which can track client trends and habits and help you to generate informed observations and take efficient action based on the data.

Health

On that note, predictive health analytics can affect how you approach a client’s portfolio. For instance, knowing one’s health – tracked via cell phones, for instance — can indicate a shorter or longer life expectancy. Extremely healthy seniors may be planning for 40 years, instead of the 20 or 30 they might have originally expected.

Those are two very different time frames. Having clients share their routines can give financial advisors an opportunity to provide more specific, actionable financial advice. A retirement account may need to be added to, for example, through alternative means like a life settlement.

Risk and data management

At the top of the big data platform priorities are risk and regulatory data management. With the tracking of customer’s activities among top corporate priorities, firms must be careful to respect privacy laws and maintain careful cybersecurity practices.

Feeling out of your element? Overwhelmed by how to process big data to your advantage?

That’s where the software industry comes in. The right software can help you harness big data with tools they’ve developed specifically for the financial advising industry.

But before fixing on a particular solution, financial advisors must figure out how they’ll use the data – and that requires people who can walk you through the various options. Partnering with IT professionals will give you a much greater chance of success when it comes to getting actionable insight from your data.

As the big data conversation continues to grow, expect more, and more efficient ways to integrate data in strategies that further your mission as a financial advisor. After all, advisors who fully embrace big data will be miles ahead of their competitors.

For more on financial advisor trends, check out our piece on advisor technologies or these great TED talks for advisors.

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Client Gifts Your Senior Clients Will Actually Enjoy http://ashargroup.com/client-gifts-your-senior-clients-will-actually-enjoy/ Tue, 16 May 2017 16:34:13 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3956 Giving client gifts can be a tricky business. You have to consider a few different things: what kind of price range is acceptable for your particular client, what their likes and dislikes are, and even how they feel about client gifts in general. Some, especially older clients who have been with you for some time, may […]

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Giving client gifts can be a tricky business.

You have to consider a few different things: what kind of price range is acceptable for your particular client, what their likes and dislikes are, and even how they feel about client gifts in general.

Some, especially older clients who have been with you for some time, may feel that an extravagant gift is a waste of money, and would be happier with an industry-related book. Others might truly appreciate a grander gesture, such as [examples].

While many advisors give gifts during the holidays, you can help yourself and your practice stand out more by remembering other important dates in your clients’ lives: their wedding or retirement anniversary, their birthday, etc.

If you’re in need of some new ideas, here are some gifts that your senior clients will actually enjoy. Keep in mind, of course, that the most important thing is to be personal, and to give something in line with your client’s tastes.

Season theater or sports tickets

For your high-net-worth clients, season tickets to a theater or sporting event can be an appropriate gift.

Retired clients often have more time on their hands, and somewhat freer schedules, which makes it more likely that they’ll actually use those season tickets, instead of giving most of them away to friends or family (although they may do that as well).

A solid financial start for their grandchild 

Family-oriented clients will appreciate gifts aimed at helping the younger members of their family get a solid financial start in life.

For teens and young adults, a book on managing one’s money or personal finance can be a great choice.

If the child is younger, the gift can be largely symbolic, as they won’t really understand the value until they’re older. An initial deposit for a savings account, for example, or a single share of a valuable stock might mean a lot to your client – not to mention help give that young person a financial leg up.

A personalized gift

Picture frames, luggage tags, and letter openers are fairly standard gifts, but they can be made much more special with some simple personalization.

Choose something elegant and timeless, and something your client will actually use. Luggage tags are no use to someone who wants to spend their retirement mainly at home. A client who’s tech-savvy and paperless won’t need a letter opener.

Special edibles

Special foods like pastries from your client’s favorite bakery, gourmet chocolates, or artisan charcuterie can make lovely gifts – especially if they’re something that your client rarely indulges in for her- or himself.

Even better, many food purveyors will ship their foods all over the country. If your client is from New York, or the Midwest, for example, you may have heard them talk about some of the regional delicacies from their childhoods or young adulthoods that they miss the most. See if you can find a supplier that will ship your client’s favorite nostalgic food straight to them. It will be a memorable, heartfelt gift that your client will remember.

Charitable donations 

Gifts to a client’s favorite charitable organization will always be warmly appreciated. These make especially wonderful gifts for seniors who are spending some of their time volunteering for a cause.

If you know what organizations your client supports, by all means make a gift of money or time to one of those. If you don’t, choose a large charity that enjoys general support, like the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or Doctors Without Borders.

Senior clients have often been with a financial advisory firm for some time, so choosing gifts that are personal and sincere is more important than ever. For more on keeping your senior clients happy, read our post “How to Help Your Senior Clients Make This Year Their Best One Yet.

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5 Easy Ways Retirees Can Improve Their Financial Situation http://ashargroup.com/5-easy-ways-retirees-can-improve-financial-situation/ Thu, 11 May 2017 07:25:30 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3939 Making the shift from earning a regular paycheck to subsisting entirely on retirement savings can be a shock for even the most confident retirees. Even if you’ve saved for retirement your entire adult life and are reasonably sure that you have enough to get by, financial stress can still creep up. Luckily, there are many relatively […]

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Making the shift from earning a regular paycheck to subsisting entirely on retirement savings can be a shock for even the most confident retirees.

Even if you’ve saved for retirement your entire adult life and are reasonably sure that you have enough to get by, financial stress can still creep up. Luckily, there are many relatively easy ways that retirees – and near-retirees – can improve their finances.

Keep managing your money.

Once you’ve crossed that retirement finish line, it might feel as though your days of reviewing your accounts and managing your money are behind you.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Now that you’ve made it to retirement successfully, you need your financial advisor more than ever. Continue to work with him or her closely so that you can keep an eye on any developments that need attention – say, if you’re withdrawing too much from a particular account, or if you’re not taking advantage of solid, low-risk investment opportunities.

Don’t retire all at once.

If you haven’t yet retired but are close to doing so, consider retiring gradually. That can mean different things for different people.

For some, that might look like going to the office just three days a week, or working primarily from home. For others, that might mean retiring completely from one career, only to start a new business or take on some part-time consulting work.

Retiring like this can give you a longer runway when it comes to living solely on your retirement savings. That can be very comforting for some.

And even if you’ve been retired for years, you can still jump back into the working world if you want to. Some retirees find that retirement gets stressful or boring, and welcome the chance to develop a business or learn the ropes of an encore career.

Take advantage of passive investing. 

With all the time you now have, you might be tempted to take an active approach to the stock market in order to maximize your retirement savings.

Searching for the best actively managed investment fund and scoping out the market can be a fun hobby, but it’s no way to reliably improve your retirement finances.

Instead, the best bet is to rely on stock and bond index funds, which are constructed to track a market index. They’re predictable, which is of great importance when it comes to your retirement savings.

Convert unprofitable assets, like unnecessary life insurance policies, into something better. 

Many seniors don’t know it, but their life insurance policies are assets just like a house or car. As such, they can be sold.

This kind of transaction is called a life settlement, and it involves selling a qualified life insurance policy to investors for a lump sum of cash. Seniors work with their financial advisor and a life settlement broker, who will create a bidding war for the senior’s policy to ensure that the senior receives the best possible offer.

Once an offer is made and accepted, the senior receives payment in a lump sum of cash. That cash can be used for anything – including padding a retirement fund. 

Wait to file for Social Security

Many seniors file for Social Security either once they reach full retirement age, which is 66, or as soon as they’re able to file, which is age 61 and 9 months.

However, if you delay filing, you’ll receive bigger checks. If you delay your filing until age 67, you’ll receive 108 percent of your benefits. Delay even longer, until age 70, and you’ll receive 132 percent of your benefits, according to the Social Security Administration.

You’ll want to talk over this option with your financial advisor, because delaying isn’t necessarily beneficial for every senior. For example, if you live the average lifespan, the SSA estimates that you’ll still receive about the same amount in lifetime benefits whether you start collecting at age 62 or 70.

Even the most financially savvy senior can start feeling financial stress during retirement. Taking these steps – including deciding whether a life settlement might be right for you – can help reduce that stress, and propel you toward a more secure retirement. Learn more about whether you might qualify for a life settlement here.

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Financial Advising Trends That You and Your Clients Need to Know About http://ashargroup.com/financial-advising-trends-clients-need-know/ Tue, 09 May 2017 10:07:47 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3902 The end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 marked a fairly uncertain period for the finance industry. The result of the U.S. election, unexpected by many, threw markets into a tizzy. Once President Trump took office, things remained uncertain: how would this president change rules and regulations that the previous administration had set? How would […]

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The end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 marked a fairly uncertain period for the finance industry.

The result of the U.S. election, unexpected by many, threw markets into a tizzy. Once President Trump took office, things remained uncertain: how would this president change rules and regulations that the previous administration had set? How would his promises to improve the economy actually play out?

Well, we still don’t know the full answers to those questions, but the industry and markets as a whole are gradually getting used to what a President Trump might mean (or not mean) for the financial world.

Now that things have settled down a bit, what trends are financial advisors seeing this year?

The fiduciary rule is still in place 

Despite broad speculation that the Trump administration would nix the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule altogether, President Trump instead only delayed it.

The rule, which affects all advisors but mostly those who work on commission, elevates any professional who provides retirement planning advice or who works with retirement plans to a fiduciary, according to Investopedia.

This rule was originally set to go into effect on April 10, but has been delayed by 60 days. Now, advisors have until June 9 to learn how it will affect their practices.

Experts believe that the emphasis on the importance of fiduciaries in the advising world – not just those who work with retirement planning – will only broaden as time goes on.

The possibilities of big data and robo-advisors

Robo-advisors have been talked about for years – sometimes as a legitimate threat to real advisors, and sometimes as nothing but a red herring.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. Instead of stealing established clients from human financial advisors, robo-advisors have mainly become a way for younger investors with less wealth to enter financial markets.

It’s becoming clear that financial technology is often more of a complement to an advisor’s existing services, rather than in direct competition with them. Advisors who can wrap their heads around big data, for example, stand to gain a great deal in terms of improved client outcomes and stronger client relationships. 

Greater focus on transparency and lower risk tolerance

Even though the country has largely recovered from the Great Recession, the lessons learned during that time are still being felt.

Consumers are still demanding transparency from their financial advisors. Advisors and other financial professionals who go above and beyond on providing this transparency will be rewarded with a far more loyal client base.

Likewise, clients who may have tolerated moderate risk 10 or 15 years ago likely want to reduce that risk today.

That’s partly, of course, because they’re getting older. As one approaches retirement, risk tolerance naturally goes down (or at least, it should).

But this is also because many people are still feeling somewhat skittish when it comes to taking on high-risk investments. The sting of 2008 won’t disappear quickly.

Need for more and better retirement advice

Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of roughly 10,000 per day. However, according to a 2016 BankRate survey, 54 percent of Americans over the age of 55 have retirement savings that are insufficient.

This means that advisors must step up to emphasize the importance of retirement savings, and assist clients of all ages – but particularly Baby Boomers – in creating the best retirement plan possible.

This includes being able to offer alternative options for making up shortfalls in a retirement fund, funding long-term care, or covering high-cost medical care.

One of these options is a life settlement. While many advisors aren’t familiar with life settlements, they can be exceptional options for seniors who have life insurance policies that they no longer need.

Instead of continuing to pay expensive premiums, seniors can instead convert those policies into a lump sum of cash – sometimes as high as 800 percent of the policy’s cash surrender value.

Are you prepared to meet the challenges the rest of the year will bring? One way to boost your readiness is to ensure that all your advisors are able to assist all your clients, regardless of their stage in life. Read more in “Training Millennial Advisors to Work with Baby Boomer Clients.”

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Give New Life to Your Life Insurance This Spring with a Life Settlement http://ashargroup.com/give-new-life-life-insurance-spring-life-settlement/ Fri, 05 May 2017 06:23:57 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3888 When’s the last time you thought about your life insurance policy? If your children are grown up and self-sufficient, or you’re widowed or divorced, the answer might be: Not lately. But maybe you should start thinking about it. When you do, you might just find that you don’t really need it anymore. This is often […]

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When’s the last time you thought about your life insurance policy? If your children are grown up and self-sufficient, or you’re widowed or divorced, the answer might be: Not lately.

But maybe you should start thinking about it. When you do, you might just find that you don’t really need it anymore.

This is often where seniors with unnecessary life insurance policies stop. They may think, “Oh well,” and either keep paying the premium, let it lapse, or cash out the policy.

Life insurance is an asset, just like your car or house. And though you may not know it, your life insurance can be one of the largest unmanaged assets you own. Like any asset, it’s important to know what your life insurance is worth.

When valuating your life insurance, keep in mind your life insurance company reports your policy’s cash surrender value, which is not the same as its fair market value. Even a term policy with no cash surrender value can still hold market value and provide a lump sum now – or when you need it. Always be sure to appraise your policy before making any further decisions.

Once you have a true value of your life insurance policy, you may want to consider another option that can offer seniors much more value for their life insurance policies. It’s called a life settlement, and involves selling your policy on the secondary market with the help of a financial advisor and a life settlement broker.

How a life settlement works 

A senior who no longer needs his or her life insurance policy may contact their financial advisor (or vice versa) to initiate the life settlement.

First, the policyholder must see if their policy qualifies for a life settlement. There are several criteria that a life settlement broker, like Ashar, will look at to see if the policy qualifies:

  • Health of the insured
  • Type of policy
  • Value of the policy (which includes the premium, whether loans are taken out on the policy, and when it matures)

Advisors can get a quick idea of whether a policy might qualify by taking Ashar’s Policy Quiz.

If the policy qualifies, the advisor will work with a life settlement broker, who will then shop the policy around to various life settlement providers. These providers work on behalf of investors. The broker will create a bidding war for your policy, ensuring that your receive the best offer possible.

This offer will be greater than the cash value of your policy – sometimes, it can be as much as 800 percent greater!

Once you accept an offer, the papers are signed and you receive a lump sum of cash in exchange for your policy. You can use this money however you like – it’s yours with no strings attached.

Advantages of a life settlement

Life settlements aren’t for everyone. If you think your family members may need your life insurance policy after you pass away, then there’s no reason to get rid of it.

If, however, you don’t expect that anyone will need the policy after you die, or if you are in need of money now to pay for long-term care or medical bills, a life settlement can be a good solution.

Life settlements also eliminate costly insurance premiums, which can quickly become a financial burden once we’re living on retirement savings. Your life insurance policy can also be converted into a long-term care settlement, in which the funds from the sale of the policy are placed into an account that the long-term care provider withdraws from to pay for your care.

How do I get started? 

The easiest way to get started with a life settlement is to contact your financial advisor and ask them to see if your policy might qualify. If it does, you’ll want to work closely with him or her to ensure that the process is transparent, ethical, and results in your receiving the best value for your policy.

Be wary of life settlement providers that correspond directly with consumers. These companies represent their investors’ best interests – which means that they’re going to try to purchase your policy for the lowest possible cost.

Involving a life settlement broker, however, means that your best interests will also be represented, and that you’ll receive the highest market offer possible.

Want to learn more about life settlements? Read our post “Majority of Seniors Still Not Aware of Life Settlement Option.”

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5 Hobbies That Will Make Your Retirement Richer and More Rewarding http://ashargroup.com/5-hobbies-will-make-retirement-richer-rewarding/ Thu, 04 May 2017 05:49:30 +0000 http://ashargroup.com/?p=3884 If you’ve entered retirement only to find that you’re twiddling your thumbs a bit more than you anticipated, rest assured – you’re not alone! Plenty of people feel stressed, bored, even depressed during retirement. And while talking to a professional is never a bad idea, there are also plenty of things you can do now, […]

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If you’ve entered retirement only to find that you’re twiddling your thumbs a bit more than you anticipated, rest assured – you’re not alone!

Plenty of people feel stressed, bored, even depressed during retirement. And while talking to a professional is never a bad idea, there are also plenty of things you can do now, today, to start feeling better.

One of these is to pick up a hobby. There are a whole host of potential hobbies out there that can not only help you pass the time, but even give you a sense of purpose or a chance to learn something new.

Here are just a few ideas for hobbies that go beyond the typical golf-and-gardening lineup.

Cooking and baking

Even if you were never a huge fan of cooking while you were working, it might be worth it to give this activity a fresh try.

It’s one thing to have to put something together for dinner after working a full day. It’s quite another to be able to take a few hours to try a new recipe simply because you want to. You may find that having that extra time takes away any stress that you previously felt with cooking or baking.

And if you do take up cooking or baking as a hobby, you’ll likely find that your loved ones are quite supportive after nibbling on your creations!

Performing arts

Have you always daydreamed about being on stage, declaiming a Shakespearean soliloquy? Or perhaps jamming with a group of fellow music lovers?

There’s no time like the present – especially now that you’ve got the time to rehearse or practice your instrument. Why not push yourself outside your comfort zone and try out for a play with your community theater? You’ll meet new people, make new friends, and you may find a new passion.

You could also sign up for an open mic night at a local bar or cafe, take improv classes, start singing lessons – the opportunities are many.

Teaching

Teaching may sound more like a vocation than a hobby, but there are all kinds of teachers – not just the ones who commit to semester-long classes.

If your town or city has a community center, check to see what kinds of classes they offer. Chances are they use volunteer instructors, and they just might need someone with your exact expertise.

If your skills don’t match something that’s already being offered, but you have a great idea for a class, suggest it. You may end up with a classroom full of eager learners.

Of course, you don’t have to go completely volunteer to become a teacher. If you retired after a long career, you’ve probably developed deep expertise in a particular area. If you need or want to work part-time after retirement, you can always start your own business as a corporate or business instructor.

Learning

On the flip side of teaching is learning – and now you’ve got all the time you need to pursue it. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn about, sign up for a class with a local nonprofit or community center.

You could even audit a course at a nearby college or university, which often offer low-cost options for seniors.

Home improvement or remodeling

Surely there are home improvement projects that you’ve been meaning to get to for years, but just haven’t had the time to do.

Now, since you don’t want to exhaust your retirement account by creating unnecessary expenses, this probably isn’t the time to hire a contractor and a full construction crew to totally renovate your home.

However, if you take the time to salvage materials or buy them from a wholesaler, and if you can do a lot of the work yourself, small home improvement projects can be a great way to spend your time without spending too much money. You’ll learn practical new skills, too.

Hobbies are an important part of a healthy retirement. Read more about creating your dream retirement in “Your Retirement Checklist: How to Start Your Year Off Right.”

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