A widening field of expertise
by Helen Simon DBA, CFP, RMA and Shaun Hoyes, MBAMs. Simon has been the CEO of Personal Business Management Services, LLC, an investment advisory firm in Ft. Lauderdale, FL since 1998 and has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. Helen is a faculty member at the Wayne Huizenga School of Business at Nova Southeastern University. Connect with her by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Hoyes has been with Personal Business Management Services since 2013 and brings a fresh Generation Y perspective to the financial planning industry
The field of financial planning has seen one of its areas develop into a formed discipline of its own – retirement planning for those close to and already in retirement. This group has graduated from the school of saving for retirement and now must enter the wise spending school.
The increased demand for retirement planning services from this segment of the population has motivated certain financial planners to focus their firm resources in providing retirement planning consultation to clients in a specialized manner. This renewed focus on retirement planning services has spearheaded new schools of thought involving the creation of designations designed to enable financial professionals to offer this service credibly and exclusively to clients.
The Financial Advisory Field is Quite Broad
The needs of a client are usually somewhat focused; this is why it is rare for a prospective client to seek financial advice without a particular agenda in mind. Some of the most popular issues that motivate prospective clients to seek out financial advice are wealth management, benefits decisions, market analysis, risk management, insurance planning, credit counseling and financial literacy activities.
There is no standard academic track for financial professionals as opposed to the medical and legal professions. Lawyers go to law school and take the board exam while doctors go to medical school, do their residency, and then go on to practice their craft. Given a wide-ranging need for financial advice and consultation throughout the general public, areas of specialization will naturally evolve, similar to what we see today as being the early molding days of the retirement planning discipline.
The Current State
Nearly 15% of the U.S. population is considered to be retired, while an even larger percentage is currently in the accumulation phase and nearing retirement (Brandon, 2012). According to the Social Security Administration’s Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal 2012, an estimated 10,000 baby boomers will begin to retire each and every day. To justify these alarming estimates, 76 million people were born during the conventional window for the baby boom generation, which is recognized to be between 1946 and 1964. This generation will retire over a 19-year period; calling upon simple math, 76 divided by 19 is 4 million, or almost 11,000 people a day. This in or nearing retirement group will continue to demand consultation that addresses the increasingly complex nature of retirement and the difficulties of implementing successful decumulation strategies.
Complexities of Retirement Planning
The accustomed complexities of the specialized field of retirement decumulation planning not only address the issues behind spending down the nest egg, but entail a knowledgeable perspective toward the management of healthcare costs, social security election decision making, and retiree preparation in handling the potential economic uncertainty that may accompany retirement.
The increasing complexity of all the aforementioned, along with navigating the wide range of retirement plans and pensions that boomers (the lucky ones) have accumulated, have left many soon-to-be retirees seemingly confused as to how to properly execute a retirement plan. These folks feel it necessary to seek out advice in this area alone.
The necessary skill set and one-the-job demands for a retirement planning professional to effectively carry out his or her work are relatively unique to the practice of broad financial advisory, giving way to numerous differentiators. For instance, retirement planning professionals must not only conduct and in-depth assessment of a client’s financial situation, but their life situation as well. Such issues that extend beyond traditional finance involve choice of colleges children should attend, living arrangements for elderly parents, and often times providing an emotional support system during the complicated beginning stages of planning for retirement. Ever since the financial crisis, the need for an effective retirement planner to understand psychology when dealing with clients in this delicate stage of their lives cannot be understated (Salsbury 2010). In a field where traditional barometers of financial success such as investment performance and statistical analysis are often of secondary importance, retirement planning is a field that can realistically serve all aspects of the population: wealthy, poor, healthy, sick, young, elderly, etc.
Retirement Planning Designations
The realization of an increased demand for retirement planning advice has led to the creation of certifications that focus specifically on retirement planning. And with the advent of new designations designed to credential financial professionals in this blossoming field, it is no surprise that one might find themselves lost in recognizing each certification’s merit and value proposition at face value. In 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report that voiced “concern” over the many different designations and the potential confusion that can arise for older Americans when choosing a financial professional for retirement counseling.
In RICP Vs. RMA Vs CRC – Choosing The Best Retirement Income Designation for Financial Advisors, prominent retirement income researcher Dr. Wade Pfau (2013) discussed the 50+ certifications available to financial professionals seeking to offer specialized services in retirement management. Pfau examines how overwhelming it can be for prospective certificate holders in choosing among certifications deemed reputable and worth pursuing. Here he discusses the three most prominent retirement planning designations: the Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC), the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP), and the Retirement Management Analyst (RMA).
The Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC®) was created by The International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE) in 1999 and is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. This certification program focuses on retirement accumulation and distribution planning while requiring certificate holders to pursue ongoing investment education.
The Retirement Management Analyst (RMASM) designation was first awarded in 2010; it is sponsored by the Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA), which is an organization that seeks to expand retirement planning “beyond the traditional focus on wealth”, while focusing on the specific issues of retirement planning and retirement management. Unlike its contemporaries, the RMASM program is conducted through a university program.
The Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) designation is sponsored by The American College and began in 2013. Its self-study curriculum consists of three courses that focus on (1) retirement income process, strategies and solutions, (2) sources of retirement income, and (3) retirement income plan management.
Positive Strides for Advisors and Clients
In an effort to help shape the retirement planning industry into a robust, service-oriented profession with a stellar reputation, it is important for advisors to stay informed and involved throughout this new industry’s evolution. Serving as guides of wisdom, financial advisors at the forefront of the retirement planning business can help future retirement professionals choose the appropriate designations that continue to align with the needs, demands, and values of retiree clients. This wisdom can also serve as a helpful aide for those seeking the optimal retirement situation.
Brandon, E. (Jan. 2012). 65-and-Older Population Soars. U.S. News. money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2012/01/09/65-and-older-population-soars
Kessler, G. (July 24, 2014). Do 10,000 baby boomers retire every day? The Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/07/24/do-10000-baby-boomers-retire-every-day/
Pfau, W. (July 2013). RICP Vs RMA Vs CRC – Choosing The Best Retirement Income Designation for Financial Advisors. Nerd’s Eye View. www.kitces.com/blog/ricp-vs-rma-vs-crc-choosing-the-best-retirement-income-designation-for-financial-advisors/
Retirement Income Certified Professional. The American College of Financial Services. www.theamericancollege.edu/financial-planning/ricp-retirement-income-planning#learning-options
Salsbury, G. (July 2010). The Psychology of Retirement Planning. Financial Advisor.
Senior Designations for Financial Advisers – Reducing Consumer Confusion And Risks. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (April 18, 2013). files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201304_CFPB_OlderAmericans_Report.pdf
Social Security Administration (2012) Annual Performance Plan for Fiscal Year 2012. Downloaded on October 13, 2014 from: www.socialsecurity.gov/performance/2012/APP%202012%20508%20PDF.pdf.
Why Become a CRC® Professional? International Foundation for Retirement Education. www.infre.org/why-and-how-to-become-a-crc/
Why RIIA. Retirement Income Industry Assocation. riia-usa.org/about/