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The Importance of Understanding Client Milestones

LPL Financial

Advisors can get a head start in helping clients analyze and prioritize their financial goals by understanding the common concerns of their clients’ age brackets. As their clients’ needs evolve, advisors can continue building rapport and trust and showing their value through more effective communication and more efficient client milestone meetings.

Client milestones and life stages

As a financial advisor, you know that every client is unique. Each client has a different set of values, financial concerns, income levels, and risk tolerances when it comes to investing. However, there’s a good a chance your clients will at some point encounter similar life stages and events depending on the age range in which they fall. These life events are referred to as “client milestones” and can have a huge impact on investors’ financial planning and future goals.

By understanding these life stages you can better serve clients by anticipating their needs, understanding their concerns, and finding opportunities to build more trust through better client conversations. Answering all your client’s questions leaves them with a great impression; helping client’s discover which questions they could be asking leaves an even greater one.

Here’s a breakdown of the concerns and areas of focus investors may have, depending on their financial life stage and age range: 

Young Accumulators (Ages 18 – 40)

Young accumulators exist across a broad age range. While an eighteen-year-old investor may not share too many things in common with a forty-year-old investor, their financial road maps may share similar roadblocks and speed limits as they ebb and flow within their careers, relationships, and responsibilities.

Regardless of where a young accumulator falls in age, chances are high that they’re focused on:

  • Building wealth and growing their earning potential
  • Saving for a large purchase such as a home or their children’s college expenses
  • Achieving short-term goals (ex: paying off college loans) and finding investment opportunities
  • Saving for retirement or planning for a family

While young accumulators may be in an age range that allows for a higher risk tolerance, they may also experience more effects during economic instability; such as a recession or season of inflation. This is a crucial time for advisors to focus on building trust and investing in a long-term relationship with a client base that has more familiarity with, and access to, DIY investing apps and robo-advisors. By helping young accumulators develop a financial plan that takes into account their unique circumstances, advisors offer what robo-advisors cannot: genuine empathy and connection.

Experienced accumulators (Ages 40 – 50)

Many experienced accumulators are at a stage in their lives where they are juggling multiple responsibilities at once. They may be caring for young children and aging parents, while working full-time to pay off their remaining student loans. Despite still being mid-career and in their prime working years, they may be facing new health issues and challenges at this age range. They may also be focused on:

  • Saving for the future, and minimizing the retirement gap
  • Navigating and preparing for unexpected life events
  • Maintaining their established lifestyle
  • Evaluating health policies for themselves or family members
  • Considering moving to a larger home
  • Starting their own business or changing careers
  • Managing inheritances or expanding families

Investors in this age range are more likely to be facing new challenges while still navigating old challenges, during evolving family dynamics. But, they’re also at a point in which they may be more confident and more equipped to take on new opportunities or make effective changes for their health and happiness. This is a time when values may drastically shift as life throws sharp curves into their financial journey.

Financial advisors can support them by helping them plan an alternate financial route that helps them be prepared for both the worst, and the best, the future may hold. Investors at this life stage may need their advisor’s guidance in re-allocating their resources, reassessing their short-term financial goals, and getting the most out of their social security benefits.

Pre-retirees (Ages 55 – 65)

Pre-retirees in this age range are typically at the stage of their highest earning potential. They’re more likely to be planning for (and looking forward to) their retirements that are just on the horizon. Investors in this age range are also focused on:

  • Shifting assets towards retirement
  • Consolidating assets and investments
  • Transitioning out of their career or business
  • Assisting adult children and aging parents

Investors in this age range may overestimate their retirement readiness and underestimate the amount they’ll need to maintain their lifestyle into the future. Additionally, as people have started to live longer they’ve been able to work longer. The typical retiree has changed in the past decade or so, and many have started re-evaluating their retirement age. Advisors may consider this a good time to share guidance around revised budgeting, healthcare cost considerations, and management of remaining debt. These investors will also need guidance on accessing their money following retirement and the best investment strategy to support them throughout their retirement.

Retirees (Ages 65+)

Retirees who are age 65 and over may feel they’ve reached the finish line, but they still need financial planning and investing guidance. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 46 million people in the United States ages 65 and older. This population is expected to nearly double to over 98 million by 2060.

Given the large and growing population of retirees, it’s important for financial advisors to understand the unique needs of investors at this stage of life and financial planning. They may face changes in their family dynamics, health, and routines all while enjoying the rest and relaxation of retirement. Common concerns and events these investors face may include:

  • Adjusting to, and maintaining, their new lifestyle
  • Budgeting for travel, new experiences, and new hobbies
  • Downsizing or consolidating their living spaces
  • Dealing with illness or death of a spouse
  • Estate planning and charitable giving strategies

Advisors can help retirees understand how to plan for potential health care costs and long-term care needs, as well as filing for social security and coordinating their benefits with other sources of income. Retirees may also may require on-going estate planning considerations as time goes on and needs evolve. These considerations may include wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents.

Supporting advisors’ at every stage while they support their clients

Staying ahead of your clients’ major milestones helps ensure you become their trusted advisor for life. And, while an understanding of these life stages is important, it’s just as important to ensure you have the advisory tools and resources needed to keep their evolving needs.

And, while you’re focused on helping your clients, we at LPL can stay focused on helping you. Apart from our range of business models we offer a suite of services to help you protect your practice, just as you help your clients preserve their finances, for unexpected events.



The views and opinions expressed by LPL Financial Advisor(s) may not be representative of the views of other Financial Advisors and are not indicative of future performance or success. Neither LPL Financial nor the LPL Financial Advisor can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered.

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