From the April 2006 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

Four Planners Who Get It: Chuck Robertson

Higher Taxes, Greater Longevity

Chuck Robertson is the type of advisor every retiree wants. He watches every penny his clients spend, and that includes helping his retired widow clients--who make up 40% of his business--negotiate the best car deals. "They're not clients, they're friends," he says. "If I can't have this type of relationship with them, I don't want them as clients."

Robertson manages $17 million for 300 clients, and 70% of his firm's annual revenue comes from retirement planning, so it's crucial for him to know clients' entire financial picture. "I advise my clients, at no additional charge, to send me their asset allocation models in their 401(k)s," he says.

Robertson, president of The Robertson Financial Group in Tampa, is no newcomer to serving retirees. He's been doing it for 23 years, but he's the first to admit that today's retirees, particularly baby boomers, face a more challenging retirement than previous generations. One of the most crucial aspects, he warns, is that taxes will be higher over the next 15 years. Why? There are 76 million baby boomers--which make up between 32% and 35% of the entire U.S. population--and within the next 15 years they will either be pre-retirees or retired. While the number of retirees will skyrocket, the number of workers paying into Social Security will plummet, plus Medicare and Medicaid payouts will reach an all-time high. Increasing taxes, he says, will be the most efficient way to make up for shortfalls.

In Florida, an astounding 25% of the state's budget is devoted to Medicare and Medicaid payments, Robertson says. To rein in the cost of those payments, Florida has enacted "two prototype programs based on HMO-type standards to do the qualifications for Medicaid planning and Medicaid cases," he says. "The state is revamping the qualifications of how [retirees] can make gifts [to their heirs], how far out it can be [from retirement], to qualify people for Medicaid if they went into long-term care."

Factoring in a retiree's medical expenses "goes directly into our [planners'] thinking," he adds. People are also living longer, he notes. Fifteen years ago, the bulk of Robertson's clients were 70- to 75-years-old. Today, he has nine clients over the age of 84 and four older than 90.

A Transition for Advisors, Too

It's also paramount for advisors to recognize that when their clients are ready to make the transition to retirement, "the planner has to make the transition as well," Robertson says. "There are planners who are fantastic accumulators, but distribution planning is not something they do well." Advisors must "know the types of assets that will provide not only the safety [retirees need], but the guaranteed income and the growth and the transfer potential on the back side."

While it's important for advisors to plan for the accumulation and distribution phases of their clients' retirement, just as crucial is planning for the transfer-of-assets phase, Robertson says. For this phase, he likes to use a product called Asset-Care from Golden Rule Insurance Company (www.goldenrule.com), based in Lawrenceville, Illinois, which is an approach to long-term care that combines life insurance, cash accumulation, and LTC insurance. The specially designed life insurance plans allow clients to use 100% of the death benefit for long-term care expenses, according to Golden Rule, a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare.

Asset-Care is based on a lump sum contribution, he says. "Let's say a client puts in $100,000 and the client is 70 years old. The death benefit is stepped up to $200,000, but there is a rider that can be attached to this policy that's a lifetime benefit that says if he ever becomes disabled or goes into a LTC facility, the deductible is equal to the original deposit he put in (the $100,000)," he explains. "Once he's gone through that $100,000, the single pay rider pays a lifetime LTC benefit for the rest of his life." So if a client has $1 million, "rather than just letting him have the money in an accumulation tool, let's provide him the benefit of if he dies, the entire contribution plus $40,000 goes to his heirs tax free," he continues. "If he lives and goes into a LTC facility, the actual death benefit if he dies is $200,000 or it pays out $4,000 for the rest of his life."--Melanie Waddell

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.