A Financial Advisor's Guide to Turkey Day

John Diehl   |  Mon Nov 21 16:15:00 EST 2016


This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday where family gathers to reflect on what we are thankful for while we overindulge in a lavish but traditional meal. The holiday is also another good opportunity to share a few important reminders for financial advisors, using terms that are relatable and top-of-mind.


Practice Communicating with Multiple Generations
For my family, Thanksgiving tends to be the one holiday where more extended family celebrates together, ranging from the elderly to the toddlers and everything in between. While your clients likely don’t cover quite that large of an age span, we are currently operating in a four-generation marketplace, and the needs and preferences of the different age groups tend to vary largely.

Think about how you interact with your parents or grandparents during the holiday—maybe you’re giving them an update about work, your relationship, your children, or a recent success. But then you turn to speak to a cousin or sibling, and maybe you talk about current events, sports, or pop culture before you get on the floor with your grandchildren, nieces, or nephews to color a picture, put together a puzzle, or play a game.

I use this example to illustrate the point that you communicate with different generations in different manners, based on their likes, needs, interests, etc. When meeting with clients, think back to your Thanksgiving holiday conversations, and remember that point—to relate to the person with whom you want to engage, you may need to shift your communication style and approach according to their preferences, needs, and interests.

Plan to Have More, Rather Than Just Enough
When preparing our Thanksgiving meals, we tend to overshoot quantity, because having more food is preferable to not having enough, and because having leftovers is never a bad idea when it comes to turkey and stuffing. If we have enough leftovers, we can also send some home with the grandkids or freeze some food for later—extras won’t go to waste.

The way that we determine how much food to make (and what we do with the extra food) is a good way to have your clients think about retirement savings. No matter how much you think you will need, you should aim for more, just in case, and then add a little extra on top of that for leftovers. There is no real magic number when it comes to how much we need in order to retire successfully, and it’s nearly impossible to know what will be “enough.” So, ask your clients to think about saving for their retirement like they would plan a Thanksgiving meal—more is always better, and there is no harm in having too much.

Ignore the Black Friday Hype
It seems to me that every year, the Black Friday chaos increases. Retailers advertise their sales far in advance, stores are opening earlier and earlier, and the media loves to show footage of the astronomical crowds and lines of people who may have even, literally, camped out to get a good deal.

Black Friday is no doubt the busiest shopping day of the year, and, as the name suggests, it is a day when profits tend to soar.

When investors see this flood of sales, they might take that as a predictor for Q4 performance. However, it’s important to remind clients that we shouldn’t be distracted by short-term market fluctuations. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season in general might result in large spikes, but that is not indicative of future performance. There may not be a correlation between Black Friday and how our economy is doing or what direction the stock market will go, so investors who play into the hype could potentially be setting themselves up for disappointment. The point is, there are no sure-fire predictors when it comes to the economy and markets, and so Black Friday is an opportune time to talk to clients about taking a longer-term approach to their finances and investments and to stay the course regardless of high highs and low lows.

Thanksgiving is a good time to think about the things we are grateful for, and this year, give your clients one more thing to appreciate: a financial advisor who relates to them and offers advice in terms they understand. Happy Thanksgiving.


John Diehl

John Diehl  

Senior Vice President, Strategic Markets Hartford Funds

John Diehl is senior vice president of Strategic Markets for Hartford Funds. He and his team are responsible for engaging and educating financial advisors and their clients about current and emerging opportunities in the financial-services marketplace. These opportunities range from tactical strategies in areas such as retirement-income planning, investment planning, and charitable planning, to anticipating and preparing for long-term demographic and lifestyle changes. John also oversees Hartford Funds’ relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab.

John joined the company in 1988 and was promoted to assistant vice president in 1991 and vice president in 1997. He was named senior vice president in 2007, while he led the Retirement and Wealth Consulting Group, which was responsible for building awareness and knowledge of retirement challenges and the latest planning strategies to address them. In 2012, John was named Senior Vice President, Strategic Markets; in this role, he devotes his efforts to serving the needs of financial advisors and their clients.

John has been widely quoted in consumer and trade publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Financial Planning, and On Wall Street. He has also appeared as a featured guest on CNBC and Bloomberg Television to discuss his views on retirement-related topics.

John attended Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) since 1991. In addition, he holds the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) designations. He is also FINRA Series 6, 7, 63, and 26 registered and holds a life and variable insurance license.

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