Adam Felts Presents at NAPFA NEMA Symposium on New Advisory Conversations

by Adam Felts

AgeLab Research Associate Adam Felts gave the keynote presentation at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ NEMA Northeast Regional 2023 Symposium, an event for financial advisors to develop their skills and knowledge to better serve their clients.

Mr. Felts’ presentation focused on conversations beyond money that advisors should be having with their clients, including family caregiving, choosing where to live in retirement, and what will make clients happier in later life. While some clients may not expect advisors to engage them on these topics, this doesn’t mean that clients think that they are considered forbidden, or that clients don’t want to have conversations beyond money, according to AgeLab research. There is an opportunity for advisors to redefine their profession toward preparing clients for a 25-year retirement.

Money and health are key resources in our retirement years, Mr. Felts said, but relationships and social capital are a resource that people may not be thinking about as being essential both for maintaining independence in older age and for happiness across the lifespan. Popular imagery in retirement brochures and on the internet tend to depict married couples in isolation – with no friends, family, or community in sight. But having rich relationships is the ultimate predictor of happiness, more important than social class, genetics, IQ, or income, according to recent results from the Harvard Study of Adult Development.

Advisors should consider how relationships inform questions related to providing and receiving care, successfully aging in place, and ensuring high quality of life across the lifespan. A key question to ask clients in order to visualize their lives in retirement, Mr. Felts said, is a simple one: “Who will be there?”

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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