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Contingency Planning:  It’s what makes a Financial Advisor the #1 draft pick

| March 05, 2024

I am a professional planner.  Kinda like a professional football player, just not as cool.  My craft is looking into the future and trying to predict what will happen in a person’s life, what their retirement may cost and then how to pay for it.  My widget is a retirement plan, which means it’s not really a widget at all.  It’s an idea.  A goal.  A dream.  Every day, for almost thirty years, I have listened to what people tell me they want in retirement, and I teach them how to maximize their financial resources to achieve it.  They may never actually achieve it, but we work towards it as best as we can.  We talk about it year after year, then decade after decade.  They put in the hard work of saving and investing.  We do daily detailed planning and budgeting for it.  But what happens when life doesn’t go according to plan?

Contingency planning should be done in lockstep with retirement planning and is what can make a financial advisor top in their game.  Just like in football when all those college athletes, who are great football players, get passed over because the NFL only takes the best of the best.  To be the best of the best as a financial advisor is to also plan for when the unexpected happens.   I use the word “unexpected” deliberately.  I’m not talking about planning for worst case scenario, that one is kinda easy.  I’m talking about planning for unexpected situations.  The ones nobody saw coming.

 

Here is a sample retirement planning situation to illustrate what I mean: 

Best case scenario: All your retirement hopes and dreams come true.

Worst case scenario: You pass away before you get to enjoy any of your retirement.

Unexpected scenario:  Your retirement income projections show an income that assumed positive market growth in the first few years of retirement.   A few years after you retire, a global event sends your portfolio into a free-fall.  In the meantime, you’ve taken income from the account that is now deemed “unsustainable” and after four years, is still not back to the balance you had at retirement.  You must now decide to go back to work or roll the dice that the money will last the rest of your life.

 

Yep, the financial advisor that planned for the unexpected is the best of the best in my opinion.  They were the #1 draft pick straight out of their Series 65 training class and will be the one that grows a practice with existing clients referring friends and family.  They are the gold standard of the industry yet are hard to come by. 

Why?  

Because just like the numbers where only 1.6% of all NCAA football players will make it to the professional level, (Source NFL Football Operations @ www.nfl.com)  as of January 1, 2024 only 30% of financial advisors were Certified Financial Planners™.  (Source CFP Board @ www.cfp.net)  Kinda a big deal, just with no cool jerseys.  

What makes a good player great in my opinion?  Natural Talent.  What makes a great player phenomenal?  Discipline.   I feel it’s the same with financial advisors.

It’s feeling the game in your bones…. not just knowing the plays.  It’s adapting and changing as the momentum shifts after a turnover.  It’s reading the line and anticipating what is coming next.   It’s planning for the unexpected, when the play doesn’t go according to plan.   As financial advisors, we can plan for the unexpected using financial time horizons, not necessarily life events.  We can plan for someone to work until age 67, but what is the contingency plan if they are downsized at age 57 and cannot find work in their field thus cannot keep making catch-up contributions we projected?  We can plan for the wife to outlive the husband when doing pension projections, but what is the contingency plan if the wife dies first?  We can plan for a sustainable withdrawal rate, but what happens when sequence of returns dimmish this in the first few years of retirement?   We cannot predict the future, but we can understand that life may throw a few interceptions and we can be ready with alternative planning solutions in the form of an Emergency Fund, adequate insurance coverage, and time segmentation during portfolio construction.

 

Being a great financial advisor is so much more than just running a Monte Carlo simulation for investment portfolio outcomes; we have to be better than good.  We have to be better than great.  We need to have a #1 NFL draft pick mindset and be phenomenal, our client’s futures depend on it.

 

Kimberly Enders CFP® CWS® CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™

Enders Wealth Management

37800 Van Dyke Ave, Suite 125

Sterling Heights MI 48312

www.enderswm.com

#kimenderscfp

 

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