In many ways, 2021 felt an awful lot like 2020. The pandemic continued to devastate families, test health services, challenge communities and wreak havoc on economies, even as vaccines became broadly available in the U.S. Political tensions led to a day of rioting at the U.S. Capitol. Labor shortages and supply chain disruptions contributed to rising inflation, reported at 6.2 percent before seasonal adjustment in October.1
Those who had hoped for a quick bounce back were disappointed, but there were beneficial outcomes to consider. Tech advances allowing for remote work led many people to re-evaluate their priorities and make adjustments. The uncertainties of the pandemic created an environment that encouraged Americans to reflect on their values, reconsider their retirement readiness and take new steps.
These are some of our key takeaways affecting financial advisors and clients during 2021.
Helping Clients Navigate Pandemic-Driven Uncertainty
The mutating coronavirus proved tough to eradicate, but the human spirit showed its resilience, too. The combination of impacts on jobs more often held by women along with extended closures of schools and daycares meant that women were disproportionately affected by job losses.
- The Unique Post-Pandemic Challenges of Women Investors
- Pandemic Fallout — Americans Delay or Cancel Retirement
- 5 Ways the Pandemic Impacted Employers and Employees
Many older workers found themselves facing an earlier-than-expected retirement due to pandemic-related furloughs and layoffs, sparking concerns about making ends meet with their existing retirement savings. Astute advisors recognized an opportunity to explore the role of annuities in helping clients with widely divergent needs as they prepare for retirement.
- Is Early Retirement Always a Healthy Decision?
- New Proprietary Report from CUNA Mutual Group Explores How Annuities Can Meet Investor Needs and Their Advisors’ Practice Goals
- Annuities as an Alternative Fixed Income Allocation?
The rising wave of retiring baby boomers highlighted the importance of Social Security benefits within a client’s overall retirement plan, as well as the complex challenges of how and when to claim benefits and their impact on clients’ financial security in retirement.
- Social Security Benefits: 5 Crucial Considerations for Women
- Why Advisors Need to Spend More Time Discussing Social Security Strategies
- Strategies for Clients Who Regret Claiming Social Security Early
Is a New Normal Beginning to Emerge?
Among the long-term impacts of the pandemic was a faster digital transformation. As events ranging from medical appointments to religious services went online and stayed there much longer than anticipated, people grew more comfortable doing business digitally — including advisors’ clients. The shift online also meant moving the work of prospecting for new clients to the space of social media, a change for many advisors.
- Location: Does it Matter to Your Clients?
- 5 Social Media Tips for Financial Advisors
- 5 Mistakes Financial Advisors Should Avoid on LinkedIn
Of course, the flip side of the wave of baby boomer retirees points to another development: the impending transfer of their wealth to younger generations. The movement of all that money presents risks and opportunities to advisors. As rising generations face financial challenges that look distinctly different from what their parents experienced, they could benefit from professional financial guidance. At the same time, they may expect different things from an advisor than their parents did.
- Millennials Turn to Annuities: Are You Prepared?
- 4 Things Millennial Investors Expect From a Financial Advisor
Rising inflation also sparked an occasion for advisors to speak frankly with clients about risks to their retirement security and the importance of considering growth potential and lifetime income as they build a plan for the future.
- Top 6 Investor Scams to Warn Clients About
- Are Parents Who Pay for College Risking Retirement?
- Pros and Cons of Cash: Are Annuities a Better Strategy?
- What Clients Need to Know About Guaranteed Lifetime Withdrawal Benefits
Professional Financial Services: Valued and In Demand
U.S. adults surveyed in 2021 said advisors are the source they trust most for financial advice, and the percentage of those who said they were working with an advisor rose to 38%, from 29% before the pandemic began.2 That’s good news for advisors in two ways: first, it suggests a rising awareness of the benefits of working with a financial professional. Second, that percentage of Americans working with advisors still leaves plenty of room for growth.
Nevertheless, building a financial practice takes dedication and effort — and advisors who distinguish themselves from the competition with unique insights, tools and solutions can expect to keep growing.
- CUNA Mutual Group Launches Acceleration — Experience Platform to Help Strengthen and Innovate Advisor Practices
- The True Value and Benefits of a Financial Advisor
- Build Loyalty Before Your Clients Shop for a New Advisor
- How Annuities Can Fit Into a Holistic Approach to Fee-Based Accounts
- Gauge Client Interest in Guaranteed Annuities: 5 Questions to Ask
Offering innovative solutions is an essential way for advisors to set themselves apart from the competition. In 2021, for the third year running, multiple CUNA Mutual Group annuity products were recognized among the best, with four CUNA Mutual Group annuities making Barron’s list of the top 100.
The past year was challenging, but it also brought opportunity to many of those who embraced change. Advisors can start creating their own opportunities by offering the innovative solutions clients are looking for. Along with great products, there’s plenty of support, resources and tools available to keep growing in 2022 and beyond.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index — October 2021, November 10, 2021.
2Northwestern Mutual, After a Year of Uncertainty the Value of Professional Financial Advice Goes Up, July 21, 2021.