You might not have David Letterman or Steve Martin, who became parents while in their 50s and 60s, respectively, as a client. But you might soon have someone like them if trends continue.
A new study by the Bournemouth, U.K.-based Liverpool Victoria Society Ltd. shows the rapid growth of a group of men and women it calls “parensioners”: those who become parents while in their 40s, 50s and beyond.
The report studied data between 1992 and 2002 that reveals a notable spike in adults having children later and later in life. The firm estimates that about one million adults in the U.K. are “parensioners.” They will be retired while still supporting young children.
While the size of the “parensioner” cohort in Canada has yet to be formally defined, Caroline Dabu, head of Bank of Montreal’s Wealth Planning Group in Toronto, says it is a trend that Canadian advisors should take note of.
“It emphasizes that advisors need to get their clients to start saving early in life because you never know what curveball life will throw at you,” Dabu says. “It could be a child, a lifestyle change, a lost job. People aren’t always prepared.”
Dabu offers advice on helping “parensioners” — and potential “prensioners” — prepare for more than just diaper duty:
> Know your client
It might sound repetitive, but knowing your client, beyond the basic KYC compliance documents, is essential.
Dabu says adults who have children later in life often fall into two general client profiles: the client has delayed child rearing in order to pursue higher education and a career; or he or she hasn’t thought about it until later in life.
Clients in the former case are likely to have significant financial security. In the latter case, these clients’ finances may be more unstable, which will require you to be more disciplined on how you manage their priorities and retirement plans.
Identifying your “parensioner” client profile will help you choose a financial planning strategy.
> Get down to planning
Parensioners, perhaps even more than your traditional clients, will require a comprehensive evaluation of their finances because retirement is close on the horizon.
As a result, you will need to be prepared for some “straight talk” with your clients. For example, you might have to revisit the client’s existing financial plans and recommend adjustments to his or her retirement lifestyle expectations. You might even have to recommend the client remain in the workforce longer than first planned.
Even clients who are not planning on having children should start building savings early in life, Dabu says.
> Lay out the options
Several tools and strategies are available to help “parensioners” cope with their pending financial changes.
Dabu suggests that you encourage growth in retirement savings by looking at income-splitting strategies as early as possible in your clients’ lives.
For your middle-market clients, she recommends maximize registered education savings plan (RESP) contributions and tax-free savings accounts to take advantage of the power of compounding interest.
According to a March 2013 report from the BMO Wealth Institute, only half of Canadian parents are using an RESPs to save for their children’s education, and only 34% are taking full advantage of the available government grant.
For higher net-worth clients, Dabu recommends you look into establishing trusts to save for children’s post-secondary education, as well as perhaps tapping into excess cash in their life insurance policies.