Making Your Practice a Magnet for Seniors
February 3, 2015
by Dan Richards
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Many advisors believe that their practice is senior-friendly if their office doesn’t require climbing a flight of stairs and if their client newsletters are in large type. To test that premise, recently I hosted a roundtable lunch for several advisors who’ve built a niche working with seniors.
Even with the growing proportion of assets held in households aged 65-plus, not every advisor will be interested in making this demographic an area of focus – dealing with seniors is demanding and emotionally taxing. But for those advisors who are interested in working with seniors, it was clear that building a reputation as a go-to advisor for seniors in your community takes much more than your office setup.
It means changing the focus of your conversations, rethinking the areas where you build expertise, altering the nature of client communication and potentially shifting the composition of your support staff.
Here are the key takeaways from my conversations:
Find senior clients’ hot buttons
In our conversations about seniors, a recurrent theme was that age is not a predictor of behavior or financial needs. As one advisor – Kathy – put it, “I’ve learned not to prejudge clients based on their ages. I’ve got 65-year olds who are as cautious and risk averse as 85-year olds, and 85-year olds who are as adventurous and open to new experiences as clients who are 30 years younger. Just as is the case with pre-retirees, the key with seniors is to find the unique hot buttons that drive them, and orient everything we do around those hot buttons.”
Kathy went on to say that in dealing with her older clients she employs the three-stage retirement model developed by Michael Stein in his book The Prosperous Retirement: Guide to the New Reality, which arego-go, slow-go and no-go. She’s seen tremendous variation in the actual ages at which clients move from the go-go phase into slow-go and then no-go.
Build the right relationships
Nancy was another advisor at the lunch who focuses on seniors. While she wasn’t familiar with Stein’s model, she quickly discussed how she has developed the expertise and skill set to be a resource for clients in each of the three phases. She also talked about the relationships that she’s developed to be able to help senior clients at each stage.
For active retirees in the go-go phase, every advisor around the table identified travel as a huge hot button. Nancy has developed a relationship with a travel agent with experience in organizing trips for active seniors and twice a year hosts talks and film sessions specifically targeted to those more adventurous clients.
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