The article “Advice For Financial Advisers: Four Things to Remember When You Meet With Clients This RRSP Season” was originally published on The Financial Post on January 20, 2016.
As RRSP season approaches, advisers tend to have lots of advice for would-be RRSP investors. What about a little RRSP advice for your adviser?
1. Don’t overestimate investment knowledge
A recent Accenture study found that only one per cent of advisers felt that their clients were “not knowledgeable” about investments, yet 25 per cent of clients identified themselves this way.
Financial advisers often make the mistake of thinking their clients know the difference between a stock and a bond or how investment withdrawals are taxed. It is important for advisers to educate clients rather than assuming that they understand investment concepts. Sometimes, people are afraid to ask questions and look “dumb” — especially when it comes to money.
2. Don’t overestimate risk tolerance
The same Accenture study found that more than twice as many advisers identified clients as “aggressive” investors than the clients themselves. And even clients who think that they are aggressive investors can get cold feet when markets start to show weakness.
The worst thing that an adviser can do is to expose their client to more risk than they can handle. And the worst result of this is putting a client in a position where they buy high and sell low and make a temporary investment loss into a permanent one.
3. Pay attention to your clients all the time
If an adviser only calls when they want to sell someone something, it can be a sure-fire way to ensure unengaged clients. So often these days, advisers are seen as salespeople and in particular during the big push to raise money during RRSP season.
Perhaps then, it is no wonder that robo-adviser firms are emerging in Canada and the concept of a dedicated investment adviser to manage your money is disappearing. Firms like Wealthsimple and Nest Wealth are proving that the concept of the traditional investment adviser is in jeopardy — especially if an adviser is not providing a unique value to their client. Investors are now more willing to invest virtually and let computers do the heavy lifting.
Bank of Montreal this week became the first Canadian bank to launch a robo-advisory service and it’s likely that other banks will follow suit.
4. “R” stands for retirement
For many people, RRSPs end up being a short-term solution for paying a bit less tax. And while the intention is to save for retirement, Ipsos Reid found in 2014 that only 43 per cent of Canadians have a financial plan in place. What is worse is that one-third of those with a financial plan say it is “in their head.”
This suggests that only about one in four Canadians has a written financial plan to help them understand what they are saving for and how much they need to save in the first place. It is no wonder Canadians have about $1 trillion in unused RRSP room.
So as the RRSP deadline approaches and clients are being nudged to save for retirement by the media and the marketing departments in various financial institutions, hopefully advisers are considering some of this advice for successfully serving clients during RRSP season and beyond.