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Improve clients’ retirement income with insights from the Retirement Management Forum

December 17, 2019 Steve Zuschin By Steve Zuschin

People are talking about Social Security. But these conversations are happening between peers, who most often are not financial advisors. This puts the investor at a disadvantage because most people do not understand what variables determine how much they’ll receive when they file or when they should start tapping into their benefits.

So many investors believe that when they file early, the reduced payment will step up as they reach their full retirement age of 67 (which most still think is 65). They also think they will receive their spouse’s benefit on top of their own if they become widowed. The misinformation flying around the rumor mill of break rooms and cafeterias across the country is hurting our clients and costing them a significant amount of money in retirement.

Arm clients with facts about Social Security

Marcia Mantell, RMA®, NSSA® of Mantell Retirement Consulting reaffirmed what’s written above. Advisors need to prepare their clients for retirement by arming them with the information they need to make educated decisions. As an industry, we must do a better job of keeping clients informed so they can coordinate Social Security along with their financial plan.

Create reliable retirement income for clients

The key word here is reliable. Advisors like Dana Anspach, RMA® of Sensible Money recognize the value of spending extra time with clients to ensure they understand the full picture. Most advisors help clients plan for retirement, but they don’t always take the time to ensure their clients completely understand the value they’re providing.

Developing reliable retirement income starts with building a comprehensive, household-level plan. It also requires a deep understanding of a client’s income and spending habits. This information can be used to build a safe runway into retirement, complete with an investment strategy that includes the appropriate risk tolerance and asset allocation.

Behavioral finance best practices

Only 25% of Americans nearing retirement can pass a basic retirement income literacy quiz. After all, turning your savings into sustainable retirement income is a difficult job. Jamie Hopkins, Esq, LLM, CFP®, RICP® of Carson Wealth drove this home in his presentation. Americans are facing a huge retirement savings shortfall and don’t appear to demonstrate the knowledge needed to turn their savings into reliable retirement income.

Thankfully, there are technology applications that enable advisors to create dependable retirement income for clients. At its core, that’s what LifeYield does. LifeYield enables advisors to produce tax-smart retirement income for clients.

In the absence of software, there are many small techniques for an advisor to implement that can have a massive impact on their clients’ future success.

  1. Identify a future goal, then work your way back to the present. This helps clients tune into their future selves and take ownership of the changes they need to make today to accomplish this goal.
  2. As part of their research, Carson Wealth found client satisfaction drops drastically when they log into their investment account more than 4 times per year. Regular and relevant communication about a client’s progress can help improve client confidence.
  3. Give clients a choice. When you get clients to choose between multiple options, they take more ownership over their financial future and are more likely to follow through on behavioral changes.

A healthy body, mind and financial plan are the three keys to facilitating a truly successful retirement. Unexpected retirement expenses are the norm, not the outlier. While financial wellness is not the only difference-maker in retirement, it can drastically improve a clients’ overall well-being and can help avoid a crisis when unexpected expenses arise.

Steve is the EVP of Advisor Success at LifeYield. He's responsible for leading our Direct-to-Advisor channel and always keeps up on the latest advisor technology. Steve writes about how advisors can grow their business by building stronger relationships with clients and adopting new technology.