My mom was 33 when I was born; 35 when my sister came along. Three decades ago, that wasn’t typical.
Today, Canadian women aged 30 to 34 have the most children of all age groups—the first time that’s happened in recorded history, says demographer Don Kerr.
People “are delaying family life,” says the Western University professor, “just like other major life transitions: leaving the nest, finishing education, obtaining the first full-time job, and getting married.” Kerr calls these changes “unprecedented,” and says it “reflects a marked shift in the timing of fertility.”
While having children later often means doing so with a stronger balance sheet, those parents will also bump up against a host of non-traditional problems.
They’ll be trying to save for retirement while spending on children, and could still have kids at home after they’ve retired—which will raise living costs. And, if a 60-year-old single dad with a 20-year-old daughter falls gravely ill, he may find she’s not financially or emotionally able to care for him.
As advisors replenish their books with younger clients, they’ll have to juggle these competing priorities using estate, insurance, investment and planning strategies.
If your clients plan to have children in their 30s or 40s, explain that they may have to delay retirement if they don’t already have a strong financial footing.
Nicholas Miazek, a Calgary-based vice-president with Fiera Capital, became a father in his early thirties.
He says many thirty-somethings have established expensive habits—driving nice cars, going out often, taking exotic trips—that don’t always change when children come along.
“I have friends who play hockey twice a week and go to pub nights, and they’re desperately trying to keep up those activities, but then need to pay for childcare,” he says. “Another friend with three children says a family vacation on a shoestring budget will cost him $10,000.”
So he has clients track spending and map out budgets before having children to ensure they can fund their new lifestyles while still saving for the future. And, says Dawn Hawley, a planner at Angus Watt Advisory Group at National Bank Financial in Edmonton, Alta., early retirement may be unrealistic for older parents.
“We have a lot of people still trying to retire at 55 or 60,” even though 70 or later may be more realistic for a parent who started her family at 45, she says.
It falls to advisors to use income projections that demonstrate the benefits of working longer.
“Show them the difference delaying retirement by two to three years will make and how it will allow them to meet their overall objectives,” she says. “Then, check every year or two to ensure you’re on track.”
Parents may also find themselves simultaneously saving for retirement and children’s educations.
To grow both buckets, says Miazek, “I always treat the education savings asset mix separately from retirement capital, because they’ll be spent in different time horizons and at different rates.