How to Talk to Seniors

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Advisors often ask me how they should start a conversation with their senior clients. My response is always the same: Talk to them about the things that matter most to them. We are in the greatest marketing time in a generation; there are more than 71 million individuals entering a target market between now and 2030, and this will be the only time in our generation that this happens.

Everyone is doing surveys with seniors these days, and recent surveys have shown:

  • Forty-nine percent of affluent Americans are worried about the economy’s effect on their ability to meet financial goals, down from 58 percent in October 2009.
  • Among the 62 percent who identified health care as a top concern, more than half feel unsure of how rising costs should factor into retirement planning. And 61 percent are concerned about assets lasting through their lifetime, up from 53 percent.
  • Finally, in terms of wealthy baby boomers, or those aged 51 to 64 years, 73 percent are concerned with whether their assets will last throughout their lifetime, and 61 percent question whether they will be able to live the lifestyle they had hoped for in retirement.

This is also a market that has predictable buying behaviors. Behaviors we know the individual will engage in as they progress through this last stage of their life. Almost without question individuals who retire will do three things:

  1. Sign up for Social Security.
  2. Automatically be enrolled in Medicare‑or if they are going to continue working they will have to opt out of Medicare Part B.
  3. A large percentage will purchase a Medicare Supplement, and many of the balance will purchase a Medicare Advantage.

Therefore, as an advisor, you need to talk to them about:

  • When to take Social Security.
  • Should they convert an existing 401(k) and/or other plans, take out 100 percent, or take a partial payout, leaving a survivor’s benefit.
  • By age 67, they they have been retired for two years. So they now have a realistic idea of their income and expenses. What adjustments will they need to make?
  • Changes in the economy and their health/income needs.
  • Seventy-and-half-years old‑time for RMDs. What used to be an asset is now a tax liability. They may be receiving money they don’t need and did not want to receive. How do they plan for this event that is predictable, something we know will happen?

#1 Fear of Seniors: Loss of Independence

“Independent living is not doing things by yourself–it’s being in control of how things are done”

Judith Heuman

Talk to your clients about the things they use the most, in the order they use them. That’s what highly trained licensed professionals do, and that’s what I tell advisors who ask me what they should talk about. What do you talk about?

For more from Lloyd Lofton, see:

Can We Be Optimistic? Part 2

8 Retirement Planning Tips

Invest in Stocks? Yes. But Don’t Forget About Annuities

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