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A Gift to Your Clients: Helping Them Live Purposefully

The idea of charitable giving goes beyond simply writing checks.

It’s the holiday season—and in this year of the pandemic, the spirt of giving is needed more than ever. How can you help your clients express their own generosity in a way that adds purpose to their lives?

As financial advisors, we talk to our clients about the technical aspects of giving, like the possible benefits of qualified charitable distributions, but should we be going deeper? We do need to be aware that our clients may already be especially determined to make charitable gifts this year, given the pandemic-driven stresses that have led so many people to rely on charitable groups for some type of aid.

But once the holidays are over, what then? The feelings that drive clients to make charitable gifts don’t simply vanish on January 1. It’s important for us to go beyond the idea of charitable giving as simply writing checks to charitable groups, as valuable as that act is. We need to connect the spirt of giving with the concept of a purpose-driven life.

About 89 percent of Americans feel there should be more ways for retirees to use their talents and knowledge for the benefit of their communities and society at-large, while 31 percent of new retirees say they have struggled to find a sense of purpose in retirement, according to the Edward Jones/Age Wave Four Pillars of the New Retirement study.

Since purpose is so clearly an issue with retirees, are there ways we can introduce this concept into our holistic approach of providing financial advice and guidance? We can ask our clients if they've considered what a "useful and rewarding" life will look like for them in retirement. When they consider their social interactions now, are there gaps they will need to fill in during their retirement years? What social activities do they see themselves enjoying in retirement, whether its travel, hobbies, volunteering, etc.? 

By really listening to those we serve, and understanding their concerns, interests and motivations, we can help them live their lives with purpose. And we can relate to their desire to contribute to their communities by showing how we are doing the same, in many ways. 

For example, this spring, my wife and I revised our giving plan in response to current needs of our family, friends and the community. We took stock in the ways we can give of our time, affirmation, influence, connections and financial to be responsive to the challenges of the triple pandemic. 

Our role is about helping our clients connect to their purpose and prepare for what is ahead. Today’s retirees face a new challenge and opportunity: how to use their newfound time and affluence. They don’t just want to keep busy; they want to spend their time in useful and rewarding ways.

Ken Cella is a Principal at Edward Jones

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