The disconnect between the conversations affluent investors are wanting to have and the ones advisors are willing to entertain is growing, said Gregory Salsbury, executive vice president of Jackson National Life Distributors and author of Retirementology: The New Language of Retirement Planning, in the closing session at the Financial Behavior in Retirement Summit in Chicago on Monday.
Only one in five advisors are increasing the amount of time they spend talking to clients in the wake of the economic meltdown, Salsbury said. Those who are rookies or are less capable just want life to get back to normal and think the financial downturn was just a bump in the road. But this is not what the typical investor believes, he added. And these investors want to talk about what happened and what are the prospects for the future.
It’s not only Wall Street that was to blame for the recession, said Salsbury. Americans who bought swimming pools, super luxury vehicles and whirlwind vacations are responsible as well. “In the year 2006 alone Americans spent more than $41 billion just on their pets,” he explained. “That is more than the GDP of all but 64 countries.”
Where did the money come from? Many borrowed from their 401(k)s, which is bad news for our retirement futures. “Somewhere along the line this quaint notion of retirement planning was thrown under the bus and what we have now is a big mess,” he said. “The investor needs to take responsibility and do things differently and think about things differently.”
One of the problems, Salsbury points out, is that investors’ have dramatically out-of-whack expectations. There is a deep misunderstanding about money in general and financial decisions. Thousands of boomers are rethinking 529 college savings plans and rethinking how much they will leave to their children.
The sad reality is that 62% of American adults believe that today’s children will not be better off than their parents. “There is a dent in optimism for investors today,” Salsbury added.
The most critical worry for affluent retirees: Taxes.
Investors are hungry to talk about the impact of the downturn on their own futures. And are eager to hear how taxes will affect them. “But most advisors don’t want to talk about it because they don’t now what to say,” Salsbury said. “I think those that will talk about it will pick up market share.”