Your fluency in SSI planning can guarantee a large client audience
By Martha Shedden and Frank HorathMr. Horath is the author of the eBook, “How to Grow Your Financial Practice with Social Security Income Planning,” and a Social Security Specialist . He is the Principal of ClientFirst Financial, an independent firm. Connect with him by e-mail: [email protected] Visit www.clientfirst.info. Martha Shedden is an associate and Social Security specialist with ClientFirst. Connect with her by e-mail: [email protected] Visit www.clientfirst.info.
Part 2 in a 4-part series
Have you ever defined your “natural market” and reflected on the importance of developing this niche? What do you think the potential positive implications are to you and your practice with respect to focusing on your natural market? Will it bring you more business revenue? Will it get you on the path for more fulfillment, both professionally and personally? Carving out a niche for your financial practice service and taking this to prospects you naturally market to within your community can potentially give you additional passion for the work you do and for growing your practice.
Becoming fluent on how to help your clients maximize and optimize their Social Security income election can essentially guarantee you a large client audience for your financial services and products. Consumers are looking closely at Social Security to increase their retirement income. The variance between a poorly thought-out and a very educated income election decision can be in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime and that is in today’s dollars. Very few financial professionals understand how to calculate, distill, and optimize the many rules and strategies available to couples and singles to optimize their Social Security income election.
In addition, Social Security is a wonderful topic for advisors with a range of marketing budget and resources to reach out to retirees and centers of influence (COIs). Foremost, it is a great tool to develop an advocacy among your clients and COIs. Newer advisors who are lean on budget can employ the Social Security topic to groom new prospects on the networking level or “on the street” via the classic elevator speech. Medium tenure advisors can network within their existing COIs. And established advisors with bigger marketing budgets can use the Social Security niche as a client retention anchor, leverage up their direct mail and referral marketing campaigns, or venture into the virtual/web prospect lead capture space.
The following is a sample of natural markets you can consider approaching to introduce them to your Social Security income planning niche service. The opportunity will not last forever as many advisors and their umbrella organizations (i.e. FMOs, broker-dealers, etc. . .) are now moving more aggressively on implementing their Social Security income training programs and technical collateral.
Service Organizations and Networking
There are a number of service clubs and retiree groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Club that newer advisors on a limited budget can approach and present on Social Security income planning at their meetings. Newer advisors also tend to do more face-to-face networking, and the Social Security topic is easily incorporated into an effective elevator speech. And with condensed relative content advisors can build their brand and their prospect database.
Reaching and Serving Estate Planners and Attorneys
Estate planners and attorneys tend to focus on traditional trust and legal work, yet they continue to be asked by clients for guidance on the Social Security income election decision. One of the common goals these professionals share in common with financial advisors is to help their clients maximize their estate value. Consequently, estate planners and attorneys are a natural audience to learn more about Social Security income planning in order to help their clients. Moreover, attorneys often have clients who need help understanding the survivor, divorce, and disability benefit provisions of Social Security, in addition to the more common need for the income maximization and optimization issue.
Although estate planners are typically not directly involved in financial or tax advisory calculations, they are an especially important part of this client support team. Diligent and comprehensive estate planning requires the practitioner to have a big-picture perspective and delegate key planning components to either the financial advisor or accountant to develop customized client solutions. Estate planners and attorneys will appreciate you stressing the importance and relevance of the Social Security income election decision within the context of their clients’ estate planning picture.
Reaching and Serving Accountants and Tax Professionals
Only a small portion of accountants and tax professionals fully understand how to help their clients optimize their Social Security income election. An accountant’s work typically includes taxation work such as preparing and filing returns, tax auditing, etc. Few CPAs have ventured into the Social Security income planning area or are fully quantifying the calculation for their clients. Consequently, they too are very receptive to learning about Social Security planning techniques in order to help their clients become aware of the need to make a smart income election decision. As they become more educated and learn of your ability to handle and quantify the Social Security income election they may very well direct their clients to your expert resources for this important decision.
Reaching and Serving Human Resources (HR) Managers
As good stewards, employers and human resource managers may wish to host a workshop seminar with a qualified financial professional to educate their employees about the importance of smart Social Security income planning. Proactive employers understand the necessity of bringing relevant retirement planning educational resources to their employees. Financial advisors are in an excellent position to provide tools to help both employees and human resource managers cope with constant retirement planning and economic change.
The recent recession and continued financial unrest have forced many employers to make difficult choices that have had an adverse impact on employee benefits. Examples of changes that impact employees are the continued trend away from pension plans and the reduction—in some cases elimination—of matching 401k and profit-sharing contributions. In addition, companies are increasingly moving toward consumer-driven healthcare plans that tend to pass on more responsibility and financial obligation to the employee. Each of these changes means that both employers and employees need to continually be aware of useful tools and strategies that will help them more effectively plan and save for retirement.
Financial advisors are in a unique position to show employees that the Social Security income election decision can directly impact the longevity of a retiree’s total lifetime income stream. While Social Security education may not fall under the employer fiduciary requirements of Sec. 404(c), Social Security income planning nonetheless can impact how employees make smart decisions about their 401k and other retirement plans. Advisors can inform and work with diligent employers to help their employees become more knowledgeable on these critical retirement decisions.
Developing Relationships with Medicare/Health Insurance Professionals
Financial advisors have traditionally tended to network primarily with accountants and estate planning attorneys. Consequently, they have somewhat neglected establishing valuable working relationships with Medicare/health insurance agents. If you choose to work and specialize in Social Security income planning, your new specialty will naturally closely align with these important health insurance professionals. The future of Medicare and our healthcare system is uncertain, and it is becoming increasingly important that financial advisors help their clients plan and budget for their future healthcare needs. Certain studies show that many Americans are underestimating their out-of-pocket retirement healthcare expenses by more than 60%. Clients will continue to look toward their advisors and healthcare consultant partners, to help them choose their healthcare policies and help them set realistic budgetary and spending strategies.
The Public Social Security Seminar, Direct Mail
Currently, direct mail to the general public on the topic of Social Security income planning can be a very effective means to draw seminar attendees. Relative to other traditional financial service direct mail marketing campaigns such as investment management, financial planning, Medicare, or long-term care, the Social Security topic can be a very strong audience draw. We have talked with many advisors throughout the country and the response rates for a quality Social Security income planning seminar direct mail piece seem to be from 1% to 5% on average, depending upon geographic location. These response rates—although at first they might seem low—can be roughly two to10 times—or more—higher than some of the more traditional financial planning and investment services direct mail marketing campaign.
Becoming an Internet Social Security Income Lead-generation Guru
If you like leveraging technology, this one is for you. Many mailing firms now offer custom landing page lead capture for boomers who are interested in maximizing, or learning more about various aspects of their Social Security income. Savvy advisors are also having customized websites built to capture their local Social Security keyword search terms. Also, a fair number of advisors are using tools such as Google AdWords to attract “web surfers” within their community who are searching for information on Social Security. Virtual Social Security lead generation and capture, when combined with working within your natural market, can provide an excellent synergy multiplier effect on building your practice and getting more for your marketing dollar.
We are in the midst of the baby boom population’s retirement surge. You have heard the numbers—10,000 turning retirement age every day. By adding Social Security income planning to your financial practice and cultivating your niche, you will be providing a service that few other planners are now offering. Centers of influence, existing clients, and prospects alike will appreciate your knowledge, advice and assistance with preparing for and choosing their best Social Security income election. An added bonus is that they will most likely share this appreciation with their family and friends who could also benefit, and you will be in the perfect position to provide this valuable financial service. Do not miss the chance to build your brand in your natural market before the opportunity passes you by.
Read Part 1: The Social Security Income Planning Advisor
Read the authors’ introductory article: Understanding the SSI Suspend & Restart Rule