Cutting Across the Silos

RIIA membership gives advisors a view of various silos' retirement income strategies

The key to building a successful retirement income practice as many clients move from accumulation to distribution is having a view of the strategies that the various financial services "silos" are engaging in, and joining the Retirement Income Industry Association (RIIA) is one of the best ways to do that, said Francois Gadenne, founding chairman of RIIA, at RIIA's 2007 annual meeting in Boston September 17. Since being launched in 2005, RIIA's membership has grown to include members from virtually all of the financial services sects: 26 advisors, and the number is growing; four plan sponsors; 38 regular members, which includes firms like AIM Investments, BlackRock, Merrill Lynch, Morningstar, and Deutsche Bank, to name a few; and a number of well-know consulting and research firms. "RIIA is the place to come to see the other strategies outside of your silos," Gadenne said.

The retirement ground is shifting, Gadenne said, and advisors and other financial services executives are realizing that the shift from asset accumulation to income generation is, indeed, "real."

When it comes to assessing advisor attitudes toward retirement income, the majority of advisors disagree that all of the hullabaloo about retirement planning is just marketing hype, said Ron DeCicco, chair of RIIA's education committee. Advisors, he said, realize they need to be educated about distribution planning, and aren't looking for more new products. That's one reason why RIIA believes there is room for a Retirement Income Expert (RIE) designation, which advisors can secure as a companion to their CFP, CFA, CLU, or other designation. RIIA, in conjunction with the Retirement Learning Center, is now laying plans on what type of curriculum and education levels would be involved in the designation. Given the scrutiny surrounding the senior specialist designations, in Congress recently and elsewhere, DeCicco said the RIE certification would at a minimum include continuing education requirements.

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