The financial crisis and painfully slow economic recovery have made a profound impact on the American psyche. This experience has been dramatic and traumatic for many, but has also precipitated a healthy re-examination of deeply held beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors. This current “national consciousness” gives you, as financial planners, the perfect opportunity to engage your clients in important conversations that have the potential for changing the trajectory of their lives in a positive and profound way.
Based on a study of consumer sentiment, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) concluded, “Recession anxiety has triggered a clear shift back to basics in what consumers say they value most.” The BCG researchers found, for example, that home and family, stability and calm, saving, and the environment have all increased in importance while luxury and status are becoming less and less of a priority.
For many of your clients, this change in focus will not only lead to wiser financial decisions, but to higher levels of life satisfaction as well. Based on mounting empirical evidence, Dr. Sonya Lyubomirski, a leading happiness researcher, describes the types of expenditures that will give your clients the biggest bang for their bucks and improve the quality of their lives:
- Activities that will help them to grow as individuals, strengthen their connection with others, and/or contribute to the well-being of their communities.
- Experiences that will provide lasting memories (such as a rock climbing expedition, a wine tasting tour with friends, or a destination family reunion) rather than material possessions.
- Many small pleasures (such as regular massages, a weekly delivery of fresh flowers, or frequent meals with close friends) rather than on one big-ticket item like a new car or super sized flat-screen TV.
- Purchases that represent something they have worked very hard to earn or to achieve will make the item or experience seem all the more valuable and rewarding.
Lyubomirski reminds us that happiness is a choice. She writes, “We can choose to become never-satisfied janitors of our possessions, or we can use our money in ways that improve our worlds and, as a bonus, supply us with genuine and lasting well-being.” This is an empowering message that you can communicate to your clients through your words and through your actions. Author Jim Wallis has observed that this time in history “could be a transformation moment—one of those times that come around only occasionally.” Don’t miss this opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change in your clients’ lives.