Saturday, October 10 , 2015, 1:15 am | Fog/Mist 71º

Craig Allen: Seniors Find Alternative Service Providers to Maintain Freedom, Reduce Cost

By Craig Allen, Noozhawk Business Columnist | @MPAMCraig |

Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful and most desirable places to live in the world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive.

Santa Barbara also has a significant senior population, with many living independently and alone. Maintaining independence is one of the most important lifestyle issues seniors face. Yet, financial challenges can be one of the most formidable, threatening independence and the seniors’ ability to remain in their own homes and in Santa Barbara.

In my business I have witnessed an increasing need from many of my senior clients for more personalized financial services. As they age, these clients experience a growing need for outside assistance, both with everyday and strategic financial needs and obligations.

For example, many clients find it increasingly difficult to keep up with monthly bill payment requirements, the collection of rents and other income from investments, coordination of household service providers, and the payments for these services and related needs.

On the strategic level, seniors need broad-based financial planning to address a wide array of financial needs, including asset management and specific investment decisions, mandatory withdrawals from retirement accounts, tax planning and coordination with CPAs, planned giving objectives and coordination with legal advisers relating to the disposition of their assets during life, and for their estates once they have passed on.

For those seniors who own rental properties or shares in privately held businesses, the effective and accurate financial management of these assets is a critical need that must be addressed on an ongoing basis. As seniors age, they may experience cognitive challenges that place them at a disadvantage when dealing with the complexities of managing these assets.

Seniors require an increasing level of health care. While many are in excellent health and can therefore travel to their health-care providers, many others are unable to regularly or easily travel, requiring either in-home medical care or transportation providers to take them to appointments. Many seniors also require in-home services, such as house cleaning and maintenance, laundry services, cooking, bathing and physical therapy. As additional services are needed, the senior’s monthly financial demands grow dramatically.

On a more fundamental level, many seniors want to enjoy their lives and do not wish to be burdened with the monotony of managing their financial affairs, opting instead to travel, spend time with family, pursue their passions and generally enjoy their golden years.

To meet the needs of seniors, and to help them maintain their independence and maximize the enjoyment they receive from living their lives to the fullest, I’ve developed a broad spectrum of specialized senior financial services. Serving as a single point of contact, I can either directly provide the service needed, or can coordinate with other service providers to ensure that my clients receive the services needed and that the costs of those services are fair and competitive. I also ensure that all monthly financial needs are addressed accurately and on time.

Another aspect of the senior’s financial health is avoiding the threat of theft and scams. Seniors are a top target of unscrupulous and dishonest con artists, contractors and service providers. Using a single point of contact — a Personal CFO — responsible for all financial needs helps to organize all financial information so that any suspicious activity can be identified quickly and investigated thoroughly. By insulating the senior from contact with multiple service providers, and organizing all financial information with a single professional, seniors can gain confidence that their financial affairs are confidential, accurately managed and secure.

Many seniors in Santa Barbara do not have family members living close by, and cannot depend on family for help and support should a problem or challenge arise. For these family members who care deeply about their senior family member, but who do not live close enough to offer direct support, hiring a Personal CFO can be an attractive solution. The Personal CFO can handle all of the financial needs of the senior, and can also serve as a bridge between the senior and the family.

The peace of mind, both for the senior who is able to maintain his or her independence, and the family of the senior who can take comfort in knowing that someone is there to take care of these needs, is a valuable benefit of contracting with a qualified Personal CFO.

Craig Allen, CFA, CFP, CIMA, is president of Montecito Private Asset Management LLC and founder of Dump Your Debt. He has been managing assets for foundations, corporations and high-net worth individuals for more than 20 years and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA charter holder), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) certification. He blogs at Finance With Craig Allen and can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.898.1400. Click here to read previous columns or follow him on Twitter: @MPAMCraig. The opinions expressed are his own.

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