The move to fee, cost, and compensation transparency will be a game-changer in our industry — but not necessarily the way you might think.

Yes, there will be some client movement, as those who feel under-served (or don’t equate expert advice and service with the price) leave for alternative advice or self-service channels. But for advisors who are able to articulate and demonstrate their value, the result will be deeper and “stickier” client relationships, and even opportunity to attract those clients that are in motion.

A foundation of “value delivered” is already in place. Almost 9 in 10 (88%) working Canadians rate the value of advice provided by their advisors as “very good or good” — and 76% of retirees who work with an advisor are satisfied with their retirement savings.1 Overall, advised households have 4.2 times the median assets of non-advised households.2

Those are impressive results. The key to success in this new age of transparency is ensuring that each of your clients understands the difference you make, the value you bring, and how you’ll continue to deliver this going forward.

Show the value

How do you demonstrate your value to clients? The good news is that there are many ways to do this, and I’m proud to say that one of the most effective is the Money for Life approach to financial and retirement planning.

I’ve been an advocate of the Money for Life approach to planning since its inception and I’ve seen how successful it can be in helping clients understand the value of advice, planning, and the ongoing coaching their advisor brings. Advisors have the knowledge and means to quarterback what clients want: financial security.

We continue to invest heavily in understanding how Canadians at each life stage (building for the future, pre-retirement, and those at or in retirement) feel about retirement. Money for Life is built on these insights and can help you have conversations with clients at each life stage about their needs, the risks they may face and the trade-offs they might need to make.

It’s strategic, planful conversations that will help your clients identify their short- and long-term objectives, understand the issues and challenges, and gain confidence to take the most effective actions to achieve their goals.

And confidence matters. A recent government study of seniors and near-seniors found that confidence was a critical element of financial health, with the findings suggesting that under-confident seniors and near-seniors are systematically at risk of insufficient planning and saving.3

The five “needs-based” conversations

Money for Life is more than just talking about product solutions — it’s about having directed, in-depth conversations that lead to a better alignment between a client’s goals and results. It can also lead to a much deeper relationship with your clients, where the value you bring is both seen and appreciated.

Here are five areas of focus — areas that your clients will want to discuss and address during each of their three main life stages.

1 – Conversation about basic needs

In all life stages, whether working or retired, clients need to plan to cover daily essentials. Basic living expenses are non-negotiable. These essential living expenses include such items as housing, food, bills, clothing and taxes. And for some clients, this can include membership fees, property maintenance costs or recreational vehicles.

If you think clients might not be worried about the basics, think again. Almost 1 in 3 Canadians think there’s a serious risk they could outlive their savings — while another 39% “aren’t sure” — hardly a reflection of confidence.4

Your advice can make a huge difference — 96% of clients who work with an advisor say they’ll be able to take care of their basic living expenses in retirement.5 By starting with a conversation, you can show clients how their basic needs will add up, determine if they’ll have enough to cover those needs and help them bridge any gap.

2 – Protecting against a health event

Canadians have a misplaced perception that the Canada Health Act and provincial health care is universal and covers all medical and health-care needs. While doctor visits and hospital stays are covered in most cases, there can be gaps, including prescription drug costs.

Potential health needs include money for medical expenses (not covered by provincial plans), and as clients age, money for emerging personal care costs, such as in-home nursing and support services.

Our research shows that 78% of Canadians haven’t saved any money or otherwise planned for a health event.6 And many Canadians don’t own health insurance, so any protections are limited to government coverage. As advisors, having this conversation with clients at every life stage can help them plan for health needs and risks and feel confident they can keep their financial plans on track.

3 – Helping clients save more

When faced with competing financial priorities, many Canadians don’t put saving — especially saving for retirement — at the top of the list.

According to the 2016 Sun Life Retirement Now Report, 34% of Canadians rate paying down debt as their top financial priority.When clients have high levels ofpersonal debt, saving for retirement isn’t as much of a priority. In fact, only 14% of Gen-Xers, 19% of late boomers and 20% of early boomers rank saving for retirement as their top financial priority. Yet surprisingly, 72% of Gen-Xers, 69% of late boomers and 74% of early boomers expect to rely on their savings and investments to fund their retirement.7

Having a conversation with clients about the importance of saving at each life stage can help them understand how it affects their financial and retirement goals. And the difference you can make is significant. Of those who work with an advisor, 60% are satisfied with how much they’re saving for retirement, compared with 33% of those without an advisor.8

4 – Lifestyle and the need for portfolio growth

Today’s retirees want to indulge in whatever makes them happy and fulfilled to live their idea of retirement to its fullest. The idea of “living off less” isn’t an option many want to consider.

As an advisor, it can be tough to get clients to have honest conversations about their spending habits.In many cases, they may be underestimating spending and their ability to maintain their lifestyle choices – whatever their current life stage. That’s why it’s critical to have conversations about your clients’ lifestyle needs and wants, and the portfolio growth they’ll need to maintain these lifestyle goals into and through retirement.

Ultimately, a conversation about lifestyle and growth will help clients articulate what they want, understand the trade-offs to afford their lifestyle, and build a plan that takes into account investment growth as a way to fund short- and long-term lifestyle goals.

5 – Leaving a legacy

Do your clients have legacy goals – whether for family members, charity or other projects or goals? While legacy issues will be lower down the priority list in the early “life and career building” years, it’s important to have the discussion at every life stage, and even more so as retirement looms.

By guiding clients in a legacy discussion, you can help them understand the mechanics of their estate – such as probate fees, the taxation of capital gains upon death and the loss of registered plan tax-sheltered status. You can also help them understand other potentially hidden issues, such as the need for liquidity to equalize their estate in cases where a business or family property is intended for one of many beneficiaries.

Through strategies such as life insurance, estate freezes and gifting, your advice can be instrumental in helping your clients achieve their legacy goals.

Get strategic and deepen client relationships

There’s a lot of change facing our industry, and it’s never been more important to demonstrate the value of your advice to clients. Many of you are already doing this — but there’s opportunity to take a more systematic, strategic approach.

As advisors, you wear many hats. To your clients you’re an educator, a coach, a long-term financial partner in their plan. The Money for Life approach to planning was built to help clients achieve their goals across all life stages, and to help you build long, successful relationships with your clients.

Resources that can help

There are a number of Money for Life resources that can help you start the conversation and demonstrate the value that you bring:

  • CE courses – To provide you with the insights and solutions you need to have enriched conversations with your clients, 6 CE-accredited Money for Life courses are available on Sun Life Financial’s Education Hub.
  • Whiteboard videos – Short educational videos to help your clients understand their needs and how you can help them plan.
  • Web app – A one-stop shop for digital tools and demos, videos and other materials you can show clients on your iPad, laptop, or PC — anywhere, anytime.

Money for Life — Sun Life Financial’s customized approach to financial and retirement planning — offers a conversation framework to help clients talk about their short- and long-term goals, and get them thinking about how their needs will change over time. Supported by a suite of tools and resources, this approach can help you have conversations and present the right mix of life, health and wealth solutions.

You might also like…

1 2016 Sun Life Retirement Now Special Report

2 The Investment Funds Institute of Canada, 2012

3 “The role of financial literacy in financial decisions and retirement preparedness among seniors and near-seniors,” May 2016, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

4 2015 Sun Life Unretirement Index

5 2015 Sun Life Unretirement Index

6 2014 Sun Life Canadian Health Index

7 2015 Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index

8 2016 Sun Life RetirementNow Report

Rocco Taglioni, Senior Vice-President, Head of Distribution, Individual Insurance and Wealth, is responsible for the overall leadership of Sun Life Financial’s distribution organizations across its Retail business in Canada. His role encompasses the leadership of the distribution company, as President Sun Life Financial Distributors Inc., as well as the Insurance and Wealth wholesaling sales organizations. Through the various leadership teams he oversees the development, direction, and execution of the Distribution strategies centered on wealth management, protection, retirement, and estate and financial planning.

Since joining Sun Life in 2004, Rocco has held various executive leadership roles, including Vice-President Business Development, Group Benefits; Head of Individual Wealth Management; Senior-Vice-President, Client Solutions; and most recently Senior Vice-President, Distribution and Marketing, Individual Insurance and Wealth. Throughout his tenure at Sun Life, Rocco has led various business strategies centered on building, transforming, and evolving organizations and teams to drive higher levels of performance and success.

Rocco has 36 years of experience in strategic leadership in the insurance and investment industries. He has served on and is a member of a number of boards. Rocco is currently President and Chair, Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc. and is a member of the Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. board. He is a member of various industry associations, including Advocis, GAMA Canada, the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management.

Rocco holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from York University.