new years resolutions

Help Your Clients Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions

A new year is a great time to start fresh and implement positive changes that will enhance our lives. Many of your clients will make New Year’s resolutions, and at least some resolutions will likely relate to improving their financial situation. As their trusted advisor, you can help clients keep their resolutions by working with them to implement financial plans aimed at achieving their estate planning goals.

There are pros and cons to setting New Year’s resolutions, and people have varying opinions about their helpfulness. People who have a favorable attitude towards New Year’s resolutions often point out the following benefits:

  • Having goals provides people with a sense of purpose and a positive, forward-looking perspective.
  • If you do not set goals, it is axiomatic that you will not achieve them!
  • Accomplishing a goal—or at least making significant progress—provides a sense of satisfaction.

Others point out the following cons of New Year’s resolutions:

  • The initial motivation generally wanes over time, making failure likely.
  • Not keeping them could lead to a feeling of failure or shame.
  • They reflect dissatisfaction with oneself or one’s life circumstances.

For clients who decide to establish financial New Year’s resolutions, you can set them up for success by adopting strategies that will help them achieve their resolutions. In 1981, the journal Management Review published an article by George T. Doran with recommendations for setting goals in a way that makes them more achievable. The article suggested using the acronym “S.M.A.R.T.”: Specific, Measurable, Assignable (or the more relevant variation Achievable), Realistic, and Time-Related.

Although the article addressed goal-setting in the management context, the same S.M.A.R.T. criteria can be applied to goals in other areas of life, including the achievement of your clients’ financial New Year’s resolutions.

  • Specific: Help your clients identify specific financial resolutions. For example, if they have set a vague resolution that they would like to begin to save up for the future, suggest a specific and clear goal, such as setting up a retirement account by a particular date.
  • Measurable: You can help your clients track their progress, for example, by identifying a specific percentage of their salary that they will regularly deposit in their retirement account and providing regular updates about their account balances.
  • Achievable: You have an intimate understanding of your clients’ financial circumstances and can help them establish financial goals that are realistic based on their income, expenses, lifestyle, and other relevant information.
  • Relevant: Your clients are more likely to take steps to keep their resolutions if they believe they are important goals that will improve their lives, both now and in the future. As their trusted advisor, you can explain the importance of taking steps to make their financial future more secure—for themselves and their children.
  • Time-Related: You can help your clients create a realistic timeline for achieving each of their financial goals and help them establish intermediate goals to help keep them engaged and motivated.

You have the expertise necessary to help your clients develop plans to enable them to keep their financial New Year’s resolutions, and you can be a source of accountability to help motivate them to implement their plan successfully. As their financial advisor, you can meet with your clients regularly and act as a point person to assemble the proper team to help them establish a comprehensive financial and estate plan. Please give us a call to discuss how we can assist your clients in creating the best plan for them as they enter the new year.

To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from their tax advisor based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances.

Nothing in this message is intended to provide legal advice.  This message is for educational purposes only.

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