Financial Literacy

Unique Approach Needed for the 'Sandwich Generation' Struggles

As lifespans grow longer and college costs rise faster than the inflation rate, many would-be retirement savers find themselves stuck in the “sandwich generation,” caring for elderly relatives and adult children at the same time. The financial pressures placed on sandwich savers can derail even carefully laid retirement plans.

“These situations are unique to each of us,” said Eric Linser CFA, a private wealth manager with Green Valley Wealth Advisors, adding that financial advisors need to tackle each sandwich generation client’s case with a fresh approach. “An asset allocation or specific model cannot address these [clients] … They need a plan that really incorporates not only the investment advisor, but also other close advisors to make sure you can help these people in any facets of their lives.”

Green Valley Wealth Advisors provides tailored wealth management and retirement planning solutions to clients ready to responsibly tackle their financial goals. The firm generally requires a $250,000 minimum in taxable income and assets to sign on as a client, although the majority hold between $750,000 and $2 million, Linser said.

A 2013 Pew Research Center study found that 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s are members of the sandwich generation, defined as taking care of both an adult or minor child and an elderly relative older than 65. Burgeoning health care costs for an elderly parent can maul a retirement plan and advisors also need to consider the emotional toll of being “sandwiched.”

linser500x400Preparing investors to make the right financial decisions is the first step toward getting them on track.

“If you can break [their finances] down, particularly in a friendly, graphic way … Then it’s getting people over the hurdle,” Linser told “Advisors Magazine” during a recent interview.

Investor education reduces the emotional power of money, Linser said. Investors, especially those just starting out or those with financial difficulties like the sandwich generation, often hesitate to risk money in the market. By working with investors individually to understand how their money works and solutions available to protect and grow their hard-earned investments, he helps his clients make rational choices toward achieving their financial goals.

As a fiduciary firm, Green Valley Wealth Advisors, puts clients’ best interests before the bottom line—unlike wirehouses or insurance brokers, who offer products according to the weaker suitability standard. The customized, individual approach is part of a larger mindset shift within the industry, Linser said.

“Ultimately, I think there was a shift in the late-90s to the turn of this century, that the investment management process became, particularly in working with individuals, not about performance versus a benchmark, but more financial planning based,” he said.

Still, he feels that client education and financial literacy is lacking across the industry, and one of his goals for 2019 is to begin offering more educational services to the community at-large either through a community college or to high school students. A stronger focus on financial literacy in schools will help produce investors able to see the big picture, he said.

For the sandwich generation, meanwhile, increased financial literacy will help them to get the most out of the tools available. And it can even help reduce the pressure on these investors, who often feel stretched-thin by the competing demands on their time, thoughts, and money.

“Investor education is the crux,” Linser said. “The more educated your client base is, that’s going to make for a more fluent conversation and take the edge off the uneasiness that can creep into these conversations from time to time.”

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Green Valley Wealth Advisors is a boutique advisory affiliate of Naples Asset Management Company, a federally registered investment advisor (RIA), through which investment advisory services are offered.


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