How to Improve The Advisor-Client Relationship with One Simple Strategy

Christine Simone
February 7, 2024

Creating a great financial plan is of course the most important part of your job as a financial advisor. But part of being able to create a personalized, comprehensive financial plan is having a good relationship with clients. Clients need to feel they can not only trust you but that you’ll also be able to offer guidance on many areas of their life. In fact, the top two key areas that people without financial advisors say they would want guidance on are: 

  • Retirement income planning and, 
  • Social Security and Medicare advice. 

And for those who do have a financial advisor, one study found that 25% of clients would leave their advisor because of a lack of personal connection, and a 2021 Fidelity Investor Insights Study found that it’s important for advisors to show they care about clients beyond just their financial needs. 

Based on all of this information, one simple strategy financial advisors can use to improve the advisor-client relationship is healthcare planning.

What is healthcare planning?

Before we launch into the many benefits of healthcare planning and how it can improve your client relationships, let’s first talk about what healthcare planning is.

Healthcare planning is the comprehensive overview and optimization of clients' present and future healthcare costs based on personalized needs and budgets. Healthcare planning is the practice of finding cost savings opportunities at multiple points in a person’s life as they relate to healthcare. Healthcare planning can be as complex as an analysis of different plan options and how each plan works with a client’s health needs, budget, and other important factors, or as simple as a conversation about how to best use a client’s Health Savings Account funds. There is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to healthcare planning. It’s individualized and personalized, and (at the bare minimum) based on clients' health needs and financial goals.

How does healthcare planning create a better advisor-client relationship?

There is no shortage of options for clients when it comes to financial advisors. As the industry is well aware, not all financial advisors are created equally. Showing the value you provide to clients is crucial in not only acquiring and retaining clients but also for creating a deeper sense of trust. What better way to set yourself apart and develop more trust with clients than by helping them plan for and optimize their healthcare costs? Especially when you consider that 47% of clients report feeling “somewhat” or  “very concerned” about issues relating to healthcare, like: 

  • Personal or family health 
  • Retiring comfortably 
  • Retiring when they had planned 
  • Caring for elderly parents or family members. 

Plus, one study found that clients of financial advisors have a 64% gap between expected and received health insurance advice services.

Spectrem Group Study

Clients of financial advisors (especially those who are nearing Medicare eligibility or are already on Medicare) expect to receive at least some help with healthcare costs and health insurance planning from their advisors. Additionally, 34% of younger investors (Gen Y and Gen Z) want life advice from their advisors, not just financial advice. Meeting this expectation will ensure that clients stick with you for the long term, and will create a more comprehensive financial plan — which is a win for everyone.

How do I incorporate healthcare planning into the financial planning process?

It can seem daunting to talk about healthcare costs with clients, but don’t let the complexity of the healthcare industry scare you. My tip for financial advisors who want to start including healthcare planning in their financial service offerings is to start small but effective. Following that advice, clients who are eligible for Medicare or will soon be eligible for Medicare are a great group to begin healthcare planning with. This is also a good group to introduce healthcare planning to because only 14% of pre-retirees say they feel they have a trusted resource to help them understand Medicare options, and just 11% feel they know where to turn to figure out how to cover healthcare costs in retirement. Those numbers are pretty bleak, but you can ensure your clients don’t feel that way by being their trusted resource for these healthcare topics. This will deepen the advisor-client relationship, which in turn will result in better retention and more referrals.

As one strategy, on your client's 64th birthday, send them a birthday card and mention that you’d like to meet with them to discuss their future Medicare coverage. You can discuss what Medicare is, how it works, and its different plan options (Original Medicare vs Medicare Advantage). Ask clients about their current and future expected healthcare needs, for example: 

  • What medications do they currently take? This personalizes the Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan) costs.
  • Do they anticipate needing a lot of healthcare services? If clients have chronic conditions or have planned surgeries, note that and consider it in the Medicare plan decision-making process.
  • How do they structure their healthcare team? Do they want national access, or just plan on staying close to home in a set network?

Asking these questions and establishing an understanding of their Medicare options will make it possible for you and your client to then review which Medicare coverage options work best for your client’s needs, preferences, and goals. Best of all, it’ll deepen the advisor-client relationship.

And of course, to make it even easier to incorporate healthcare planning, you can partner with Caribou.

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