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Longevity, Retirement Planning, and Empowering Advisors with Frank McAleer

Retirement planning is evolving in an interesting way as the baby boomer generation retires. As life expectancy is rising and retirees are coming in waves, it’s necessary to create better retirement plans.

In today’s episode, Jack talks with Frank McAleer, Senior Vice President of Wealth Planning, Global Wealth Solutions at Raymond James, a global financial services firm that focuses on providing trusted advice and tailored, sophisticated strategies for individuals and institutions.

Bringing more than 30 years of industry experience, Frank leads Raymond James’ efforts to empower financial advisors with thought leadership, technology, and practical guidance to address the evolving financial planning needs of their clients. They believe a financial plan that sets out clear objectives and the partnership offered by a professional financial advisor is key to achieving long-term financial and lifestyle goals.

Frank talks with Jack about how Raymond James offers services focused on longevity and retirement, how they empower advisors, and the role technology plays in retirement planning.

What Frank has to say

“I call empathy the one trait that clients want from financial advisors the most, but you’d never see it. But when you provide it, clients relate and the best way is to tell your own personal stories.”

– Frank McAleer, SVP, Wealth Planning, Global Wealth Solutions, Raymond James

Read the full transcript

Jack Sharry: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us on this week’s edition of WealthTech on Deck. Each week I speak with industry leaders around issues that inform in advance financial advice, Wealth Management, retirement and technology. I talk to those who are leading the way. As we seek to help advisors, clients, participants and firms enjoy better financial outcomes all around the confluence of digital and human advice. I think it’s common understanding of the central role financial planning plays in helping advisors and investors achieve better outcomes in the face of a tidal wave of people retiring. Of course the earlier the better on the planning front, but it’s never too late. Today we will have a conversation with someone who has done more around financial planning than just about anything I can think of. Frank McAleer is Senior Vice President of wealth planning at Raymond James. Frank, welcome to WealthTech on Deck.

Frank McAleer: Jack. Thanks for having me. I’m honored to be part of your lineup. It’s I’ve been following. It’s an esteemed lineup. I’m really honored to be part of it. Thank you.

Jack Sharry: I’m honored that you’re honored. So thanks so much. Great to have you on board. Frank, let’s start with you telling our audience about your role at Raymond James, you’ve covered a lot of ground route planning, longevity, and a whole lot more retirement. So tell us more.

Frank McAleer: Yeah, Jack i And we our Team we do cover a lot of ground. And going back to your initial comments. It really does revolve around planning, we’re not product focused at all. It’s all about planning. The best way for me to describe it is to I have found just walk you through the different components of our team. And I’ll start with level of complexity. Theoretically, we have 65 Associates all together. And we have a team of software support analysts that really their job is react all data calls coming in about our financial planning software. Our enterprise solution is MoneyGuidePro, which we call GPM, which stands for goal planning and monitoring. So we have a team that takes calls all day, from the simplest to the most complex calls beyond them and backing them up, we have a team of what we call financial planning consultants, they’re all CFPs. It’s about 10 or 11. Financial planners that take one off financial planning questions, calls, a lot of them are revolve around the evergreen topics of Medicare, Social Security. And also when you get into a really really complex GPM plant, again, that’s called planning and monitoring, they can jump in and really help the adviser with more complex techniques in the software. And then beyond that, we have a team of wealth consultants, and I would say our wealth consultants are the key component of wealth planning. Our wealth consultants are older financial planners, more experienced they are they’re all CFPs, they have more designations. And their job is really to get involved in high net worth what we call cases, high net worth cases. And ultra high net worth cases, a lot of times it’s event driven, and our claim to fame, if you will, then Raymond James, our wealth consultants are responsible for pulling it all together. For an advisor. As you know, for many advisors, you could manage money for clients for years, and all of a sudden, client sells a business for $100 million. Now, what am I do you have a whole new set of items and issues to contend with? And it’s overwhelming for an advisor. And that’s not derogatory. It just is like, how do I pull it all together? How do I garner the resources within Raymond James, and that’s what our wealth consultants do. We work with the advisor and the client to analyze the situation. And then our wealth consultants not only help with the planning aspect, but we pull in the various resources, whether it’s Raymond James bank, or whether it’s the Raymond James Trust Company, or whether it’s alternative asset management group. And we all thought there’s also two other teams within while planning they can pull into it, a wealth consultants can pull in any of our wealth strategists, which are attorneys, to help with estate and trust and tax strategy. And we also have a team of portfolio consultants that could pull into a case, if it involves analyzing what a portfolio looks like today, from a risk and performance standpoint versus what we think it should like moving forward. So we actually monitor the cases we track the number of cases we do, we track the assets involved internally and externally. And we actually track the net new asset result, which I’m happy to report is very, very positive from working with us for case management and always revolt results in net new assets. For obvious reasons, you’re exposing your client to so much more than Raymond James has to offer. It’s a great way to retain the client, it’s a great way to gain greater share of wallet, offer more services to the client and also retain assets. And one more aspect, which you and I have talked a lot about lately and as gaining in popularity as our longevity planning, component of wealth planning. We started that I would say seven or eight years ago. And we really started it based upon meeting Dr. Joe Coughlin from the MIT age lab via one of our mutual fund partners and And I’ll save some of that for later. But that really spawned a whole new area of planning and expertise that we’ve had to develop internally, to help clients with what we call longevity planning, which as you know, has a lot of different meanings. We get into that as well.

Jack Sharry: Basically, your planning team has a variety of segments, there’s the the attorneys that help on wills and trusts and all that goes state planning, all that kind of stuff. You’ve got folks that you can tap into around portfolio management and how to put together a portfolio. You got folks that deal with longevity issues, you got folks that are dealing with this, the poor planning issues or business transition issues, selling the business, what do you do with proceeds all that kind of stuff. So it’s pretty easy. So you are kind of a coach of the coaches coach or the quarterback, so to speak of the financial advisors, the quarterback, you guys are the the group of coaches like in football that are each have a specialty, but are there to assist the quarterback of the advisor.

Frank McAleer: We’re actually part of an advisors team. In fact, when we were presenting wealth planning more and more to create more awareness about what we do, this is pre COVID, we were calling ourselves your virtual team, we were calling ourselves virtual before COVID. Good because we’re all pretty much based in St. Petersburg, We’re not a team that’s traveling around doing presentations, we’re always have worked with the advisor, hands on virtually, to help them put together good plans based upon whatever situation the client is, in a lot of the time it is a lot of times like you said it is event driven, business succession sale of business. But a lot of times we say to advisors, look, if you’re managing money for an ultra high net worth client, that’s all you’re doing, you should let our case consultants get involved with your wealth consultants, to analyze the entire class situation, because there’s probably a lot more that we have to offer for that client and that they need. And if you don’t do it, someone will at some point, so a competitive standpoint, and an asset retention standpoint. Don’t wait for an event, you know, get on it now and make sure your clients know what you have to offer. You know, I’m not speaking to everybody I know everybody that we compete with has similar offerings. And I think it’s really, really important that your clients do know that you do so much more than manage money, it sounds old hat, but there are still plenty of advisors managing money and not really aware of all the different services they can offer and how to do that. And that’s not again, it’s not a negative remark. It’s just the nature of the beast. But we’re gaining ground each and every year.

Jack Sharry: My sense is, first of all, planning in general is not taking advantage of anywhere like it could or should be it’s for some reason advisors have a habit, shall we say, of doing business certain way. And planning seems to get in the way of that something, you seem to have more success than most. And I imagine that you’re even having greater success in light of all the people that are retiring and businesses sold and people leaving work or you know, their careers early just because of COVID, or decisions to live a different life. So talk a little bit about that. How have you had the success you’ve had, how have you gotten the advisors to on the uptake, I’m assuming has something to do with what you mentioned earlier about net new assets, but fill us in as to how you’ve had the success you’ve had.

Frank McAleer: I feel good 8000 Plus advisors, almost all of them have used GPM in some way, shape, or form. Now we divided into nine users, which is just one to five plans light, moderate, and heavy. And ironically, it almost splits evenly to 1000 each and all those categories. But it’s really begun to shift to moderate heavy users over the past two to three years. And Raymond James has never been a firm that incense advisors in a special way to do planning. And we point out just what you’ve pointed out, that results in greater retention of assets and results in net new assets. We have solid statistical proof of that. And it also identifies outside assets. Right? That’s a big part of it. If you look at we’ve done at the end of the year, we had done over 400,000 plans over time implemented brand new plans, each plan on average had about 1.3 million and liquid assets. 45% of all those assets are identified from the outside. So that’s the incentive and we educate as much as we can every conference that we go to. We have GPM sessions. And we also have our GPM team that I talked about before our software support team. We have continual webinars continual education on the topic.

Jack Sharry: So Frank, that’s great. Go a little bit deeper, if you would, again, you have seemed to have a higher penetration in terms of getting advisors on board. What do you find? What kind of gets them over the hump though? Is that Is it an event? Is it a client that has a sale of a business? What is it that gets them going? And it’s also sounds like you have a little bit more of a support network for them than I hear from other firms but fill us in on how that all works.

Frank McAleer: It gets into going on using our case consultants to do a case wealth consulting. Yeah, that’s a question I even get from our executive team. Frank, why aren’t more people using the wealth consulting team because the results are so fantastic. And as you know, in any listener knows awareness is one of the biggest challenges that we have. Right? That’s really one of the biggest challenges. So what we’ve begun in addition to educating what we do and how we pull it all together, I think any advisor any business person for that, you know On that point is really, okay. That’s great. But what are the results? Right? So we did an intense study for fiscal year 20. On three, it was called the productivity initiative. And our statistical team looked across the firm. And we said, okay, when it comes to organic growth, which as you know, is really, really important, look at net new assets, look at revenue per relationship, and look at what has created the new client relationships, there was three to five products or services within Raymond James. And in all three instances, our wealth case consulting, was in the top three or five, resulting so we’re spreading those stats that are can’t be questioned, really, it was really intense statistical study to point out that there are results in this too, and it is a change, it’s a change. I’ve talked to a lot of advisors, you know about case consulting and longevity planning. And they’ll say, Frank, my clients love me, they have never gonna go anywhere, and they’ll love you, too. They don’t. Sometimes when I’m going to Philadelphia, Wiseguy mood, I say, you know, how many people want to the author saying, I will never leave you. I mean, it’s happened. So, you know, I think you just need to be aware from a competitive standpoint that someone could swoop in and say, Hey, there’s someone talking to you about banking services, lending services, Trust Services, doing a state trust, document review for you. And if you’re not doing that, it’s a very, very good chance you could lose that client. So it’s competitive. But also the stats that leave no doubt that if you’re really interested in organic growth, and growing revenue per relationship, this is the way to do it.

Jack Sharry: So Frank, this doesn’t apply to you and I but you may notice that the baby boomers getting older and more are retiring every single day. And one of the areas that you’ve guys have led to, I think led the industry around is longevity, longevity planning and, and products that help support that exercise. So talk a little bit of what you do and how you do it. And maybe some of the results that you’ve found so far.

Frank McAleer: A quick background was that I talked about Joe Coughlinand MIT age lab. And seven years ago, he introduced us to us the three questions that determine the future quality of your life, I think you know what these are? Maybe many listeners do. But it’s the three questions we shouldn’t be asking ourselves. If you’re a baby boomer, who’s going to change my lightbulbs? How will I get an ice cream cone? I will have lunch with and they all relate to who’s going to maintain your home? If you want to age in place? Can you do it? The cream cone is about freedom of transportation, and you have lunch with us about your social network. And it really resonated, like, wow, these are earth shattering questions that we’re not asking that we found clients do want to talk about, I know I want to talk about it. And back then, we said to our advisors, go out in your communities and get to know the Medicare provider and the gerontologist. So the elder care attorney and our advisors quickly said, Wait a minute, Frank, that’s too much. We can’t do that. Most of all, we don’t have the expertise. And we’re afraid that we’ll make a bad choice. So I came back to the home office, so to speak, and I said, we should go out and find resources that are national in scope, run them through a Raymond James procurement process, which is very intense. So we can call them a vetted partner. And we can co brand with them. And that’s just what we did. So our view of longevity planning, which is continuing to evolve, was, if you’re asking these types of questions, it doesn’t have to be just those three. But what we found is that phase, but ask these questions, the clients would say, Oh, my God, thank you so much for helping me think about this, and plan for it financially. My next question is, where do I start? Where do I go? So we did is we develop resources in the areas of critical care, diagnosis, caregiving, aging in place, safety of information, gathering of information in an organized fashion. And the first resource we started with was a Medicare partner. And we started with Medicare, because you have to make a decision at 65 Unless you continue to work. And sometimes now pre 65, which is becoming a really hot topic, 365 insurance, but we view that as a way to really differentiate yourself, and also provide resources that are needed and wanted by these clients. I mean, one of the really defining moments for me was when I went to Boston to MIT, and they had a dementia symposium, and there was a young couple and the husband had early stage dementia. And I remember his wife saying, Oh, he was fine sitting there. But you know, it comes and goes, and one man, I think it’d be fine in conversation, the next minute, he could be walking out the door for a walk, so to speak. But what she said is the hardest part was pulling it all together and going here, they’re here. They’re trying to pull it all together. And that’s what I said, we should really work overtime to make sure our advisors are the center point advisor. So the resources I talked about, you know, for example, one is clinical care, you have a critical diagnosis. What do I do? You know, we’re not going to be the expert. We’re not going to be the one providing that advice. But if we can be the center point, and point our clients to that resource, it’s going to make us more valid Apr. And not only that, if we’re aware of all these items that a client could or could not encounter in the future, it really is a big part of the financial plan. Like you have to account for this financially. So we’re saying we’re not only going to account for it financially, we’re also going to account for it resource wise, here’s the contingencies you need to have for this. If it doesn’t happen, great. That’s found money. But if it does, here’s the better resource that we recommend you could you could utilize to help you figure out can age in place, or can I not? If I can’t age in place? What is the best alternative for me? Is it a continuing until retirement community is carried home, as in a nursing home, things like that? That makes sense?

Jack Sharry: Totally. So you’ve talked about what you have accomplished so far, which is, frankly, a ton to talk about some stuff you’re particularly excited about now that you’re working on, and also what you see happening for the future? In other words, you really put together a great program from everything I’ve heard and heard before, and just got more detail now. What are you excited about now? And where do you see the world going around planning around helping people as they retire? And as they go beyond?

Frank McAleer: Well, yeah, they’re for planning and longevity, they’re kind of intertwined. I would say where we see the business going, and I think you do as well, it’s, it’s much more personal. There’s much more emotional intelligence required. And there’s much more empathy required. It’s, you know, term use holistic. But when you look at some of the longevity resources, we talked about, coupled with wrapping that into a plan and making sure you account for it with the resources, that’s where we see it going, I want to and what we’re doing for the future, like right now, the resources that we have, they’re all off resources. They’re not integrated anywhere yet. So the next step for us and for anybody, any other firm that’s contemplating this is how do you integrate it into your service offering? How do you bundle it? So instead of talking about five different resources, it’s, for example, the Raymond James, post COVID, longevity planning suite of products and services, right? Obviously, I just made that up. But I think that’s where we’re going, how do you integrate it into a more compact service offering, because let’s face it, you have to make it easier for clients and easier for advisors to utilize and implement. And the other thing, this is a controversial topic, where I think I said going, I’d like to see it going is when you add a suite of longevity services, for example, you’re doing more for your client than you’ve done before. And I know you’ve heard me say this, we’re one of the only industries that continues to add value without increasing prices. Everybody else I do business with when they give me something like we’re the only one. So I really think we need to be thinking about and we are thinking about it here. If you’re my client, Jack, and you and I have agreed for a certain service offering at a certain price. And I introduce a longevity suite of products that you could use in the future, and add some planning functionality to that. Am I doing more for you? And are you willing to pay more for that remains to be seen, but I think we really need to examine that instead of talking about free compression, maybe there’s, we should be thinking about fee expansion and not. Because if we continue to add value without increasing prices, we’re going to squeeze ourselves out of business.

Jack Sharry: I love the notion and I look forward to watch you fight that battle.

Frank McAleer: From there’s no doubt there’s no doubt. I mean, we’ve talked to advisors, we have a number of advisors that want to go to the market and beta test the package offering. And it’s not like you’re going to charge a heck of a lot more for it. But it is something different. It does require more effort, even if the Home Office provides it. The Raymond James model, it’s still more work. And should you be compensated for that? Time will tell. And worst case, it’s incredible value and worst case.

Jack Sharry: Yeah, totally, totally. You and I have spoken a fair amount about what I referred to as comprehensive advice platforms. So seems like everyone in the industry is starting to connect the dots on all the capabilities you’ve just described, not all of them, because there’s a lot there and time will tell and it’s not all going to be connected overnight. But certainly we’re moving toward a more coordinated set of advice offerings, shall we say? So that means technology. Talk a little bit about that. How do you see technology playing a role as we move forward? Because I’m particularly struck by you just mentioned about, frankly, more personal, it’s more empathetic. In other words, you’re more about what the person is feeling and their healthcare and all this other stuff that is less quantifiable, let’s say. But it does seem that in order to have that more of a council counseling kind of approach, you also have to have more technology to give you the time to provide that. So talk about that, if you would.

Frank McAleer: Well, that Yeah, I mean, I can tell you that one of the things we’re doing here is integrating more of the longevity resources. For example, on to client facing in our client portal. I think that’s a big part of it. And I’ve talked to a number of my partners in the business. This is something that clients will get excited about you talking about. They don’t expect you to talk about it. They’re not going to ask you to talk about longevity planning, for example, or critical care service. or aging in place services because they don’t expect you to have it. So we’re looking to utilize technology as a way to get the word out to clients. So it’s more demand driven. Like I didn’t know Raymond James did this, I just saw it on the website or assault on my advisor website, I want to talk to you about that. And we’re also looking internally to have portals, if you will, for each resource. So advisors know when clients are asking about it, and expressing an interest in it, and also utilizing it because a lot of times when we refer a client to one of these longevity resources, you know, because of PII, we don’t get involved, like we’re hands off, we do want to know if they utilize the resource. So I think that’s one of the ways I think technology can really help in getting the word out. Because it’s really hard for an individual advisor, verbally or in written word to get it out. Like let’s use technology to advertise more and let the world know that, hey, this is something you’re thinking about. We’re all thinking about. We haven’t right here.

Jack Sharry: Yeah, I guess the biggest hump to get begun over as in, you’ve seen the statistics, our friend Steve Gresham cites it frequently. But the top issues for clients are not the top issues that advisors like to talk about not have issues around issues of health care, longevity. Yeah, expound on that.

Frank McAleer: That’s a great point. It’s one of the hurdles, I remember when we first introduced this concept. Let’s say seven years ago, I had advisors like why are we doing this? This doesn’t make sense to me. You know, our retort? Our answer to that is, well, when you look at a financial plan and accumulating assets, it’s not just about accumulating it’s what are you accumulating for? What is the end in mind? And getting back to where I see the future? Like the future? You’ve heard me say this, and Steve asked me all the time, you know, the end in mind is peace of mind. And how do you define peace of mind, I put my head on the pillow at night. And I know that I financially, if anything comes my way, I’m ready. I know what resources I’m going to use. I’m insured properly, my estate plans in good shape. It’s all there. So I can put my head on the pillow at night and not worry about it. I can tell you, I’m not there yet. So I don’t go to sleep every night. Because thinking about the things I haven’t done yet. And advisors have an unbelievable opportunity to help orchestrate that for clients. And the other point, if you do that, what’s the elephant in the room that we’re not talking about as much as we should? It’s transmission of wealth? How do you engage the whole family? It’s everything we’ve talked about today. That’s how you engage the family and get the kids to realize, well, my advisor does so much more than manage money for my parents, so to speak. I want to work with him in the future.

Jack Sharry: Yeah, I have a number of friends that have retired considering retirement. And the set of questions that come up in retirement are different than the questions while you’re moving toward retirement. So issues around all the stuff that sounds like your team deals with? How do I handle RMD? And the tax taxability? There? And how do I What about Roth conversion? And how do I deal with that? When should I start Social Security? And then as I have those various conversations, what is the plan to I buy a second home? And how do I set that up and trust for the kids and on and on and state plan. And in other words, your worldview changes when you’re retired, because you know, you’re closer to the end of the beginning. And you want to make sure that you live a wonderful retirement, but at the same time, you could consider health care, and you just added on and on and on. And then ultimately you got to pass it on you want to pass on. You want to live a good life and also pass on what’s leftover for family.

Frank McAleer: Definitely charity. And I think that that all comes back to one of the things that I do like to say is, you know, for planning earlier, the better but it’s never too late. How do you account for all this as an advisor, what you just said is overwhelming. I think the only and best way to do it is through a financial plan, because a good financial planning software is going to have functionality for everything you just said, right? I mean, how do you keep control, but you have to do a financial plan? I almost feel I don’t know what the word is guilty saying that like, yeah, of course. But it’s not of course, because we still know a lot of the advisor population that is not really utilizing financial planning software. And if they are not utilizing it to the extent that it could be used. There was a great article few years ago called we built it, and they didn’t come. And it was an article about really sophisticated financial planning software, benefits, you know, 10 stories, deep advises we’re all using the first two stories, right? So, but that’s where it all begins. I think. When you think about being overwhelmed, get that plan in order. I know. That’s what I’m doing now. I mean, because my wife’s always asking me, you know, what about where are we going to live? And can we find this home right now? And, you know, you don’t have to go to work to answer that question. You want to know, like, if opportunity arises or if an illness arises, you can take advantage.

Jack Sharry: This is great, Frank, this is as always I enjoy speaking with you. As we look to wrap up what are three key takeaways we should leave with our audience from our discussion today?

Frank McAleer: Well, I think that the first takeaway I just said right financial plan is the key have to have there’s no doubt about it. And if you don’t, someone will offer it offer to your client with contingencies for longevity and everything we talked about. And I would say really focus on that. The longevity topics we talked about Medicare, obviously, critical care, where will you live? Who will take care of you caregiving a final identify the number one issue in longevity, it’s caregiving. going through it right now with land loss, intense. And there’s two things that will do, it will differentiate you. And that will help you immensely when the transition of wealth conversation comes up, because you’re getting the whole family naturally involved. And last, but not least, and this is something you’ve heard me say recently, and I’m going to stay on topic on this for a while is empathy. I call empathy. That’s the one trait that clients want from FAs the most, but you never see it. Here’s my service offering Jack Sharry, Wealth Management, we provide an empathy. But if you’re not going to say that, but when you provide it, clients relate and the best way is to tell your own personal stories. I always I think about my own life and some of the tragedies that I’ve had loss of parents, I know you and everybody else can think about it. You think about the most meaningful conversations and the ones you remember, yes, it’s the ones where they provided the most empathy and put yourself in their shoes and you knew you’re relating to you, as if I just we can do that. Because guess what, most advisors are bloomers, we’re all in the same shoes, we have the same issues, share your stories, connect and go to work.

Jack Sharry: Couldn’t agree more. Couldn’t agree more. I built a career on it. That’s for another day. So Frank, appreciate all that as we do each week, when we bring our session to a close, could you tell us something interesting or unique? You do outside of work that people may or may not know you would find interesting or surprising.

Frank McAleer: I actually have two things. There’s one thing that I do that I didn’t think it was unique until I started telling people that I do it, I get up at 4:30 not every day because it’s hard to do every day, but three to five days a week fives a miracle. And I swim with the master swim team in St. Petersburg, we have an unbelievable outdoor facility. We swim anywhere from 2500 to 3500 yards and morning with structured workouts. And there’s world class voters and the pool like that I don’t fit with our group. I can tell you that. I found a couple of years in high school. But I mean, it’s a great way to start the day. It’s outside year round. And you’re just supposed to you know some great for world class athletes and getting up at 4:30 is challenging. The beauty of that is I’m home by seven and it still gives me time to take a nap.

Jack Sharry: it’s good for you. That is great.

Frank McAleer: My other official duty as a president of an organization called the Radner has bins which is a group of ex athletes and football players from my high school that congregate for a banquet every year. And somehow they said Frank, you are the number one has been up here and anybody who has traditional like that keep going and so that’s

Jack Sharry: the rendered husband in charge. Frag tank this has been a fun discussion great to get cut up as always learned a bunch to our audience. If you’ve enjoyed our podcast, please rate review, subscribe or share what we’re doing here at well, tech on deck. We’re available wherever you get your podcasts. Frank McAleer, thanks so much for our time. It’s been a real pleasure. I look forward to the next time.

Frank McAleer: Thank you, Jack. I really appreciate it. See you later.