Buckle up, this year is going to be a frenzy of political discussions, last-minute attempts to push new policies, and what may concern your clients (and prospects) the most, headlines claiming disaster.
Political leanings aside, as an advisor staying in front of your clients’ concerns may just be the most influential piece of your relationship. On the flip side, if those concerns, warranted or not, go unaddressed this may drive a growing wedge between you and your clients.
Christopher Dixon Jr, managing partner and founder of Oxford Advisory Group stated “To build a successful business, you have to take care of your clients. That should be your top priority. One of the biggest parts of doing that is making sure they are educated and confident that you have their best interest in mind, this means keeping up on current events, laws, and changes that may cause doubt or fear.”
With over 3 billion people on Facebook, you can bet a large portion of your client base is slow scrolling through their feed and being served headlines aimed to drive clicks. Nearly 70% of people aged 50-64 say they use Facebook according to the Pew Research Center. Though Facebook does have rules against specific fear-mongering ads, those rules don’t seem to eliminate the articles pushed with alarming headlines, many of which have little actual substance and instead speculate on things that may or may not be coming. 2024 will provide a lot of opportunity for speculation on many factors that are important to your clients. Here are the top 3 things that might just creep into your clients’ feed and cause some uncertainty that top advisors may want to get out in front of.
3 topics the savvy advisor is getting in front of in 2024:
- Expiration of the Tax Cuts and what that means for retirement accounts.
- New Social Security Proposals that aim to refill the current trusts
Your clients and prospects will likely be bombarded with information and speculation on what the upcoming elections will change, not to mention any new policies pushed over the next year to attempt to strengthen or undermine current politicians before elections.
The TCJA has afforded us all tax cuts, however, it looks like those cuts are coming to an end. These cuts are set to expire in 2025, meaning without new regulation the tax rates at every bracket are set to increase. While the country has an estimated $40 trillion in retirement accounts, how those withdrawals will be taxed is a concern for many.
Tax-deferred accounts have often been hailed as solid retirement planning, but that theory has relied on the idea that tax rates will be lower in retirement. While retirees are working less, they are earning lower incomes, and as such should be in a lower tax bracket. So it should be a win to defer the tax bill until the income amount allows them to drop a bracket or two. That is unless tax rates significantly increase. The average top tax bracket throughout the US income tax history is 57%, at its highest it was 94%. We are currently sitting at what some call historically low tax rates, at the very same time our national debt has never been higher.
As news will no doubt push narratives on spending on both sides of the aisle, the concern for tax hikes may become forefront in your clients’ minds.
“Tax-focused financial planning isn’t just a novelty, it’s a necessity if you truly care about your clients’ well-being. Focusing only on investing and average return rates can be a huge disservice to your clients if they end up paying a third (or more) of that to the IRS,” Christopher Dixon Jr.
Social Security has been a discussion for retirement-focused financial planners for decades. Hosting seminars, writing books, and developing software to calculate how to receive maximum benefits have shaped much of the retirement planning world.
With the announcement that the trust funds supporting Social Security benefits are projected to be depleted in 2033, there is much talk about how the program should be changed. Now, payroll taxes will keep Social Security from going bankrupt and will likely fund up to 80% of the currently offered benefits. There will be lots of discussion and suggestions on how to keep these trusts from running out.
In all likelihood, this will be much more impactful for those in their 40s and 50s today and those who will be paying into Social Security as opposed to those already or nearly collecting. The truth of the matter is that many retirees have little faith in the government’s ability to maintain Social Security, partially because of just how often it has changed and also how many times the trusts have threatened to be depleted.
Savvy advisors are getting out in front of these concerns. Speaking with your clients about their income plans and how Social Security factors may provide the comfort they need to ignore all of the new proposals. Some advisors are even calculating income plans showing 80% benefits from Social Security and building the remainder of the plan to accommodate in the case benefits are reduced. As many retirees depend on the steady cash flow from their Social Security, sooner may be better than later to sit with your clients and go over their full income plan.
“Lifestyle in retirement is less about how much you have, but more so how much you can keep and spend. Factors such as taxes and Social Security should be carefully incorporated into any income plan for retirees. Far too often we see retirees come in for the first time with only an investment plan and nothing that addresses the income they will need for their desired lifestyle,” Christopher Dixon Jr.
Inflation and the attempts to minimize its effects with raised interest rates can be a complicated mess to unravel. Your clients and their families are likely feeling the sting of inflation even if it is just at the grocery store. However, the increased interest rates and their inverse effects on bonds may also be driving concerns.
There is no doubt going to be a lot of debate on how well the economy is doing and what that means to everyday citizens. With various ideas on how to control price increases, this may fuel your clients’ unhappiness with the current effects inflation is having on the distance their retirement income is taking them.
This is yet another opportunity for you to get in front of your clients and look over their income plans. Taxes possibly taking a bigger bite, inflation short-changing their purchasing power, and the threat of diminishing Social Security benefits create a perfect storm of concern that may have your clients questioning if they are going to be ok. This lends itself to a perfect opportunity for advisors to get back in front of their clients, review their income plans, and strengthen their relationships by providing guidance and assurance.
Oxford Wealth Group, LLC is a federally registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The communications of an adviser provide you with information about which you determine to hire or retain an adviser. Information about Oxford can be found by visiting the SEC site www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. and searching by our firm name.
This is prepared for informational purposes only. It does not address specific investment objectives, or the financial situation and the particular needs of any person who may receive this report. The information herein was obtained from various sources. Oxford Advisory Group does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of information provided by third parties. The information in this report is given as of the date indicated and believed to be reliable. Oxford Advisory Group assumes no obligation to update this information, or to advise on further developments relating to it.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.