We recently accepted a new client who could have used an advisor years ago, but waited until a near crisis struck before reaching out for help. Over the course of working with our client and their extended family, I came upon a truth that I never fully appreciated in working with clients over a couple of decades.
This client had a somewhat disjointed financial situation that was complicated by his significant health concerns, as well as those of his wife. They needed answers now, but it was difficult to advise them because of the difficulty in assembling pertinent financial documents and data. Before we could provide them with the answers they wanted, we had to devise a multi-pronged approach that would expedite the signing of updated estate documents, review all credit card expenses over the past year, and track down cost basis information for their taxable portfolios.
What struck me was how often we take the benefit of continually updated client information for granted. This is perhaps one of the most significant benefits that we provide to our clients, yet is perhaps unappreciated at best. Although we strive to obtain as much of this information as we can without involving our clients, sometimes they must get involved; and we realize that can be an inconvenience.
Having up to date information allows us to offer counsel, often times on the spot. In the event that more analysis is required, we can frequently come up with a recommendation quickly. Clients who resist updating their information are doing themselves a disservice. After as short a period as a couple of years, financial information can be obsolete, and can require extensive data gathering. We would much rather spend limited meeting time on your concerns, rather than on housekeeping items. Up to date records is the hallmark of a financial planning relationship that works. If you are still making New Year’s resolutions, try to ensure that all of your financial records are current. It will pay big dividends down the road.