How We Became Passionate Advocates for Soloists
By Allen Davis, CFP
Not long ago, my world view got turned on its head. I proudly showed a friend Davis Financial Group’s new print brochure, which we had put a lot of time into getting just right. She shook her head and handed it back to me. It looked good, she said, but “soloists” like her— older adults without a spouse or partner and children―were totally missing. “There’s a lot of us out there,” she said, “but you’ve forgotten to include us.”
It was a blinding flash of the obvious. The brochure presented all the usual reasons to do financial planning: protecting your family, college planning, transferring wealth to the next generation. But it completely omitted the millions of people who live alone and have a very different way of thinking about their futures and well-being.
Jarred by this revelation, we dug deeper and discovered that about one-quarter of our clients were actually solos: They might be divorced, windowed, or never married. There were LGBTQ clients who’d never had the opportunity to live openly with a partner, let along marry them. A good number of our clients had never had children―a far more common choice for Baby Boomers than for their parents. Others had children who lived very far away, were disabled, or estranged. Some had step-children who were only marginally involved in the client’s life.
There are many routes that lead to becoming a “aging solo.” In addition, many older couples without children realize that eventually one of them will die and the surviving spouse will join the swelling ranks of soloists.
We were not alone in overlooking solos. Our industry– financial planning and wealth management― was doing the same. Research shows that single adults were significantly more anxious about their finances than married couples, yet only half as likely to work with a financial planner. Clearly, we need to learn more about this population and their wants and needs.
But financial challenges are just the beginning. Davis Financial Group’s approach to working with all clients is to serve as the hub that can connect them, as needed, to a network of professionals with a variety of specialties: estate planning, elder care, downsizing, real estate and housing, wellness and healthcare, community programs, and so on.
This team approach is especially valuable for solos, who much often find alternatives to the support of immediate family. We began working with solos-researcher Dr. Mary Young to understand the full gamut of challenges that solos face as they grow older.
In November 2019, we partnered with MassMutual Trust Company to host a meeting for Western Massachusetts professionals who serve the older solo population. They included gerontologists, estate-planning attorneys, eldercare advisors, social workers, elder services agencies, real estate and housing practitioners, and leaders of several neighborhood network groups. During a panel discussion, experts from a variety of fields shared stories and observations about their work with older solos. “I never thought about this before, but it makes perfect sense,” said one audience member.
The issues raised at that meeting are also deeply important to individuals, which is why we have launched The Soloist, a curated series of blogs and other resources to help you, as a current or prospective solo, plan your own journey. We hope you find this content useful and, of course, we’d love to hear from you. Do you have a story or experience to share? Issues or resources you recommend for future blogs? Please be in touch!
Allen Davis, CFP is Managing Partner of The Davis Financial Group and a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC (www.SIPC.org). Davis Financial Group is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC, or its affiliated companies. Supervisory Office: 330 Whitney Avenue, Suite 600, Holyoke, MA 01040, Tel: 413-539-2000.