How to Create a Financial Plan That Aligns with Client Goals and Values, Featuring Healthcare Planning
February 7, 2024
If you ask your clients, “What are your financial goals?” they probably aren’t going to give you a specific number. They’re going to say something like:
“I want to have the money to travel.”
“I want to put my three kids through college so they don’t take on any debt.”
“I want to retire at the age of 55.”
Your job as the financial advisor is to then create a plan that helps them meet these goals. Sounds simple, right? If only.
A common struggle in the advisor community is aligning with clients on what their goals are, what they value, and how to get clients to stick to the plan to achieve those goals. One of my favorite podcasts, The Human Side of Money, often talks about this topic and I highly recommend listening to these episodes to gain further advice on how to align client goals and values with their financial plan:
- Ep. 54: Helping Clients Achieve Life Money Balance with Dr. Preston Cherry
- Ep. 73: The Evolution Of The “Human Dimension” And Helping Clients “Live Big” with Dave Yeske
- Ep. 66: Establishing A Goal Hierarchy To Create More Meaningful Goals with Eric Trexler
So where does healthcare planning come into this? Well, for starters, even if you do create the perfect financial plan that is perfectly in sync with what your client values and the client follows your advice, one large hospital bill or costly prescriptions that aren’t covered by their insurance could derail their goals and your perfect plan. That’s just one of the many reasons why health plan optimization is so important.
Less frightening but just as important: many client goals and values fall directly under healthcare or are tied to healthcare. For example, in one study, respondents said that good health was the number one factor for a happy retirement. This makes sense when you consider that:
- Many goals in retirement require good health (playing with grandkids, staying active, traveling, etc.).
- Healthcare costs are a major stressor, so eliminating that stress as much as possible will contribute to a better retirement.
- 58% of Baby Boomers surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed and 54% feel confused by retirement healthcare costs and insurance information.
Healthcare planning can open conversations about goals and values
Asking clients point blank “What are your goals and values?” can be too open-ended, and many people probably don’t know how to answer the question if they haven’t thought about it beforehand. Healthcare planning can be a great way to start a conversation about goals and values. When you and clients are determining what their best health insurance options are, some of the questions clients will need to answer to help narrow down choices relate to goals and values. Questions like:
- If you’re planning to stay with your current job until you turn 65, is it because you want to keep that health insurance?
- Do you have any insurance companies you prefer to work with? Or any that you refuse to work with?
- Do any of the insurance plans come with additional perks or benefits you would like to use?
- Do you travel to visit family often or travel often for vacations? If you do, would you need coverage that has access to a nationwide network of doctors? Or would a more restricted regional network be sufficient for your needs?
- Do you want coverage for alternative therapies?
- Are you expecting any large medical events in the next year? Such as a planned surgery?
- Are you OK with jumping through hurdles to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist?
You can also talk about Life Events and how they impact clients’ healthcare costs and coverage, as well as their financial goals. Let’s stick with retirement as an example. If you offer healthcare planning, you can schedule a meeting with clients to talk about their healthcare coverage options and preferences for retirement. Since you’re meeting to talk about their retirement, now is also a good time to ask about their goals for retirement. For example, to get the conversation started about goals and values, you could ask clients questions like:
- Are there any dream trips you’d like to take during retirement?
- How do you hope to spend your time? Are there any hobbies you want to pick up?
- Do you have any goals for charitable giving during retirement?
- What are three things you couldn’t live without?
There are many other questions you could ask clients to discover their goals and values, and as you talk with clients the questions will likely come naturally as the conversation progresses and you learn more about your client.
Healthcare planning can help ensure goals happen
Let’s say your client wants to purchase a vacation home but they don’t have quite enough saved yet and they’ll be on a fixed income in five years. What can you do to help them reach this goal? Budgeting of course, but optimizing their healthcare spending can also save them thousands. In fact, Caribou’s healthcare planning software saves clients $6,632 on average per year.
Aside from that, it’s also common for people to overspend on their healthcare coverage. 95% of seniors with Medicare Part D drug plans overspend on their coverage, and one study found that employees pay 40% more ($2,400 a year for families) for premiums as a result of simply sticking with the same plan year after year without evaluating other plans.
Healthcare planning can unlock additional savings for your clients by reducing how much they spend on premiums and drug costs, but it can also find tax savings. Yep, you read that right! For example, during the Marketplace Open Enrollment period in 2022, we found clients an average of $16,253 in tax savings.
That’s money your clients can use to help fulfill their financial goals without having to cut costs elsewhere.
Creating a financial plan that aligns with client goals and values starts with an honest conversation (or two) with clients. Like Eric Trexler talks about in his The Human Side of Money podcast episode, you need to discover clients’ “why” and create a plan around that. It’s also important to revisit their “why” every so often to make sure the plan is changing with their lifestyle and any new or different goals they want to achieve. Healthcare planning helps to create a financial plan that centers on client values and goals in two ways:
- It can help you and your client discover what their goals and values are.
- The savings identified through healthcare planning can help clients achieve their financial goals.
Interested in learning more about healthcare planning? We’d love to talk with you!