Convince your clients that you can guide them through the tough times

By Ryan Parker

Bankers Annuity Brokerage

The economy isn't looking much brighter, but a good number of your clients may still be hoping for a miracle.

A recent Allianz survey found that financial planning is not a priority for many Americans.

Although 35 percent of respondents attributed this lack of urgency to the fact that they “don't make enough to worry about it,” another 23 percent said they already “have a solid financial plan” and 17 percent said they “don't have an advisor/financial professional.” You certainly know better.

A financial plan is something that should be revisited every year, as circumstances tend to change; so even those who believe they're on course for a solid plan over the next year could use a fresh set of eyes. And no matter how much income one earns, one must still plan for how to spend and save it.

Now is the time to act, so here are a few interesting statistics to help motivate you (and your clients) to focus on financial planning.

As Katie Libbe, Allianz
Life's vice president of Consumer Insights says, “...the last few years have taught us that we must prepare for uncertainty and risk. Sound financial planning helps people increase their capacity to save.”

Apparently, we are not learning well. Earlier this year, when Allianz Life asked a group of 1,000 Americans what their resolutions for 2012 would be, a whopping 80 percent said they had no interest in including financial planning as part of their resolutions, despite the staggering unemployment rate, an unusually perilous stock market and massive decreases in home values. Apparently willing to ignore these weighty concerns, Americans resolved to get into shape rather than better manage their finances.

This isn't to say that Americans aren't worried about the economy, as illustrated by questions asking them to rank the most important of five economic events of 2011. Unemployment was No. 1 for 48 percent of respondents, while the “U.S. budget fiasco” was of concern to just 23 percent.

Home prices/sales bothered just fewer than 15 percent, while the volatile stock market and the European debt crisis were well under the radar, drawing only 10 percent and 5 percent respectively of respondents' attention.

Yet despite these concerns, not many Americans seem interested in pursuing professional assistance. This is evidenced by the survey question: “Given 2011's economic conditions and your financial situation, are you more or less likely to seek the advice of a financial advisor/professional?” Astonishingly, 31 percent indicated that they were less likely to seek out advice, while a mere 20 percent said they were more likely to do so.

Most Americans (49 percent) said they were “unsure” about concentrating on their finances in the year ahead.

You understand that now, more than ever before, financial concerns should be at the top of the list, so go through your client files and get to work convincing them of this dire need. History is always a lesson, but not always a lesson easily learned.

Be sure to discuss this with your prospects and clients, and show them you're the professional who can guide the way through these tumultuous times.