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Navigating the Shift from Saving to Spending in Financial Planning

In financial planning, moving from saving money to spending it requires a change in strategies and attitudes. The recent Financial Conduct Authority’s Consumer Duty regulations highlight the need to tailor retirement advice to meet these evolving needs. The attached image shows that constantly chasing money often ends with the realisation that wealth alone doesn’t fulfill all of life’s needs. This highlights the essence of proper financial planning: understanding the client’s needs before managing their money.

Understanding the Purpose of Money

Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Effective financial planning must prioritize understanding the purpose behind accumulating wealth. This involves asking clients about their life goals, aspirations, and desired legacy. Such an approach helps create a financial plan that aligns with the client’s overall vision of a fulfilling life.

The Shift to Spending Savings

Clients spending their savings have different priorities compared to those who are still saving. They often prioritize security, stability, and predictable income over aggressive growth strategies. As they age, their capacity for risk usually decreases, requiring a reevaluation of investment strategies to match their changing risk tolerance and income needs.

Tailored Advice and Client Understanding

Providing effective financial advice requires asking the right questions. Christian Markwick from the Verve Group noted in FT Adviser that many advisers need to improve their questioning skills to better understand clients’ spending patterns and needs. This insight is crucial for developing a suitable retirement plan. Without such understanding, advice may fall short of meeting clients’ actual requirements.

Consistency and Customisation

Retirement planning advice has become more complex and nuanced. This complexity can make it difficult to provide consistent advice, especially in larger firms where different advisers might offer varying solutions to clients in similar situations. To overcome this, firms must balance tailored advice with scalable, cost-effective solutions. Using the right tools, platforms, and technologies can help achieve this balance, ensuring advice is both personalized and consistent.

Investment Strategies for Retired Clients

Advisers must differentiate between the phases of saving and spending and adjust their investment strategies accordingly. BNY Mellon IM research indicates that many advisers don’t change their strategies between these phases, a practice that could be challenged under the new Consumer Duty rules. Retired clients need different approaches due to their lower risk tolerance and need for steady income. Strategies such as investing in high-quality bonds and dividend-paying stocks can be suitable for clients whose basic needs are met through guaranteed income.

Addressing the Challenges

Advisers face the challenge of balancing the need to make money last through economic challenges with maintaining an appropriate risk profile for their clients. This requires a nuanced approach to financial planning, incorporating both long-term investment principles and tailored, client-specific strategies.


Transitioning from saving to spending is a significant change that requires a comprehensive understanding of the client’s life goals and risk tolerance. Financial advisers must evolve their questioning techniques and strategies to align with the unique needs of clients spending their savings. By doing so, they can provide advice that ensures financial security and supports a fulfilling and purpose-driven life. After all, a well-planned life goes beyond mere accumulation, focusing instead on achieving a harmonious blend of financial security and personal fulfillment.


Q&A on Planning for Purpose and Spending Savings

Q: Why is it important to plan for the client before planning their money? A: Planning for the client before managing their money ensures that financial strategies align with their life goals, values, and aspirations. It helps understand the purpose behind accumulating wealth, allowing for a more personalized and effective financial plan.

Q: What is the difference between saving and spending phases in financial planning? A: The saving phase focuses on building wealth through savings and investments, while the spending phase involves drawing down on accumulated assets to support living expenses in retirement. Each phase has distinct characteristics, attitudes, and risk tolerances that must be considered in financial planning.

Q: How do the Financial Conduct Authority’s Consumer Duty regulations impact retirement planning? A: The FCA’s Consumer Duty regulations emphasize the need for financial advisers to provide tailored retirement advice that meets clients' specific needs. This includes distinguishing between saving and spending phases and adjusting investment strategies accordingly.

Q: What challenges do financial advisers face in updating retirement strategies? A: Advisers face challenges such as inadequate questioning skills to gather necessary client insights, the complexity of providing consistent yet personalized advice, and operational difficulties in implementing tailored retirement solutions. These challenges can hinder advisers from fully meeting clients’ needs.

Q: Why is it important to understand a client’s spending patterns and needs in retirement? A: Understanding a client’s spending patterns and needs is crucial for developing an effective retirement plan. It ensures that the financial plan aligns with the client’s lifestyle, providing sufficient income to cover their expenses without depleting their assets too quickly.

Q: What strategies can advisers use to address the distinct needs of clients spending their savings? A: Advisers can use strategies such as investing in high-quality bonds and dividend-paying stocks to provide a stable income stream. Additionally, they must consider the client’s reduced risk tolerance and need for security when designing spending strategies.

Q: How can financial advisers balance the need for long-term growth with the need for security in retirement? A: Balancing long-term growth with security involves creating a diversified portfolio that includes both growth-oriented and income-generating assets. Advisers should regularly review and adjust the plan to ensure it remains aligned with the client’s changing needs and market conditions.

Q: What role does technology play in providing tailored retirement advice? A: Technology can help advisers gather and analyze client data more efficiently, enabling them to provide personalised advice. It also facilitates the implementation of tailored investment strategies and enhances communication with clients, ensuring their needs are consistently met.

Q: Why is it important for advisers to distinguish between saving and spending in their investment strategies? A: Distinguishing between saving and spending ensures that investment strategies are appropriately matched to the client’s phase of life. This distinction helps in managing risk, optimizing income, and ensuring that the client’s assets are used effectively to support their retirement lifestyle.

Q: How can advisers improve their questioning skills to better understand client needs? A: Advisers can improve their questioning skills by undergoing training in effective communication techniques, practicing active listening, and using structured questionnaires. These skills help in extracting crucial information about the client’s goals, preferences, and financial situation, leading to more accurate and personalized advice.

These Q&As should help clarify the key points of the article and provide valuable insights into the importance of planning for purpose and addressing the unique needs of clients spending their savings.

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