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Survey Results Provide Insights into Clients’ Retirement Funding Fears

Retirement savingsRich or not-so-rich, running out of money in retirement is a major concern for 57% of clients, according to results of the inaugural quarterly AICPA Personal Financial Planning Trends Survey. Initiated by the AICPA’s PFP Division, the new survey seeks regular insights from CPA financial planners, provides valuable feedback on client emotions related to finances and the future, and helps trusted advisors understand where their expertise can best address client concerns.

High levels of concern over adequate retirement funding, as indicated by the first quarter 2015 survey, suggest demand is up for retirement peace of mind--a priceless service that CPAs offering personal financial planning services are uniquely qualified to provide.

The four factors causing the most stress for clients included healthcare costs (76%), market fluctuations (62%), lifestyle expenses (52%) and unexpected costs (46%), such as care for aging relatives, diminished capacity, divorce, job loss or an adult child returning home.

Situations that might seem like major concerns for clients can be put into perspective with the help of a financial professional. In fact, CPA financial planners surveyed were 35% less likely to share their clients’ concerns about their clients’ financial futures. CPAs can alleviate their clients’ stress by listening to their fears and providing a more complete outlook on the following:

  • Healthcare – Work with clients to understand their Medicare and insurance options so they can better plan for potential healthcare costs they might need to cover.
  • Diversification – Mitigate the effect of market fluctuations with proper asset allocation, bucket strategies and use of single premium annuities.
  • Lifestyle – Help clients understand the impact of their lifestyle spending and implement a plan that balances their current income level and asset base with their retirement goals.
  • Living situations – Identify strategies, such as the use of continuing care retirement communities, to both control costs and save on taxes.
  • Tax savings – Coordinate Roth conversions with IRA required minimum distributions, invest in assets with a lower tax rate and maximize Social Security income.

Retirement planning needs can change, and no other financial professional has a better and deeper understanding of their clients’ financial history, net worth and goals than a CPA. CPA financial planners are aware of their clients’ ability to fund their retirement and can help them achieve their goals to live the kind of life they want to live. The added benefit of being a trusted advisor with  broad knowledge and the ability to integrate tax, estate, retirement and insurance/risk management planning, along with investment planning, is that you can provide context to help clients make sound decisions toward a satisfied, fulfilling retirement.

Even if you work in business and industry or don’t provide personal financial planning services, youcan help your clients, colleagues, or employees face their retirement decisions by connecting them with a CPA/Personal Financial Specialist who can help in a knowledgeable and objective manner. The AICPA’s PFP Division offers a comprehensive CPA/PFS directory (findacpapfs.com) that is searchable by geographic location.

Be sure to review our PFP Trend Survey, where you’ll find a summary of the most recent results, a survey video and other resources. We’ll add more survey results throughout the year, so check back for updates.

Dan Snyder, CPA, Senior Technical Manager- PFP Division, American Institute of CPAs.

 Retirement savings  courtesy of Shutterstock.

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