A popular trend among financial advisors seeking to get in front of the large segment of affluent pre-retirees is to conduct workshops on how to optimize Social Security benefits.
Other advisors are pitching health insurance advice amid the confusion that has reigned with the rollout of Obamacare.
Whatever the angle, however, advisors typically struggle with converting these prospects into full-fledged financial clients.
“It’s frustrating for advisors seeing all these great people and not being able to get into conversations about finances. People say ‘I’m fine there,’” says Mike Kaselnak, whose Rochester, Minnesota-based 5Q Group coaches advisors on winning over other advisors’ clients.
“People unsatisfied with their current advisor would have left that guy a long time ago,” Kaslenak tells ThinkAdvisor. “People don’t want this bait and switch where they come in about one thing then you talk about another thing."
Consequently, advisors utilizing one of these loss-leader systems are thought of as the prospect’s “Social Security guy” or “health insurance guy,” and their marketing investment bears little fruit.
But there’s a way — 21 ways, actually — through that impasse, according to Kaselnak.
“Advisors have the right idea: They’re talking about nonfinancial things. But the problem they’re having is bridging that gap into financial things,” he says.
The coach shared two of his strategies for bridging conversations that work.
The first involves powers of attorney. Kaselnak says the advisor should tell prospects attending Social Security or health care workshops that inspecting the legal document will be crucial to determining an optimal strategy.
Kaselnak says very few powers of attorney work with the Social Security Administration. Similarly, they are unlikely to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs or the IRS. “The three major government agencies [that utilize] a power of attorney and guess what — all three have different requirements,” he says.
And while government agencies won’t honor a power of attorney without specific language, many banks and brokerage firms won’t honor a perfectly legal power of attorney that has not been updated within the past year.
“They’ll say, 'I’m not sure if this is your latest or most current power of attorney; if I honor one that’s not your latest I might get sued,’” Kaselnak says.
So after examining the power of attorney, Kaselnak says the advisor can say: “Just in a brief review of your power of attorney, we see you’re not going to get access to your money when you need it most.”
Regardless of the advisor’s loss-leader program, the advisor now has a bridge back to financial advice.
An advisor pitching health insurance can say that when the client’s spouse is incapacitated, the power of attorney will not be effective to gain access to benefits. Or when the client needs money out of the brokerage account, he’ll need to wait a few months before the court compels the lawsuit-wary firm to release the funds.
“Try to change your cell phone service when it’s not your name on the bill. They’re not going to help you,” Kaselnak says, suggesting it’s not any easier with the government or financial institutions.
It is at this juncture that the advisor can fairly request the information needed to expand the relationship, saying something like:
“In two minutes, we’ve already found two ways your power of attorney won’t allow access to your money when you most need it. I’m not comfortable moving forward with you unless I get a full financial snapshot of where you are, to make sure that any recommendations I make, you can implement. Otherwise, [your present course] is not only going to cause you problems, but cause me problems.”
Kaselnak says the conversation about the power of attorney has so far proven its worth his some of his coaching clients. He cites one who conducted five workshops and brought in a $500,000 client at his first event, but none in his next four events.
“When he came to me for help, I showed him this bridging conversation. He got seven appointments and converted four to new clients. I don’t know the total value, but it was significant.”
Another client was successful at selling long-term care insurance — he sold about 200 policies in two years, but he was never able to convert any of them to a broader financial relationship. He tried out the bridging conversation last month and was “7 for 7” with three new prospects in this month’s pipeline who have turned over their data to him.
The 5Q Group coach offered another bridging conversation tool — this one involving a request for the prospect’s property-casualty insurance.
The last years’ severe winter storms have resulted in higher than normal rate of damaged roofs, which has led some third of property-casualty insurance companies to change formerly cash-value policies to replacement cost policies.
Kaselnak says neither clients nor their advisors typically look closely at that sort of thing, and yet clients’ expectations are that if their roof is damaged the insurance company will foot the entire bill. But the changed coverage means the insurance company will depreciate the value of the roof so that a client with an old roof may pay even most of the cost of the replacement.
“Will that affect your ability to pay for your long-term care policy?” Kaselnak asks. “You just tie it to your specialty — whether that’s paying your health premium; or if you’re giving Social Security workshops, you say “If all your income is going to the roof, what’s the point of optimizing your Social Security if you’re in danger of wiping out a whole year of Social Security income?’
“It’s just a matter of tying the loss leader you’re using to the power of attorney or property casualty information. Advisors all know how to look for the problem; they just need the information,” he says.
The crux of the matter, says Kaselnak, is credibility.
“When I find things wrong and am not compensated — it’s the attorney or property casualty insurance agent getting paid — it gives me immediate credibility that I’m not there mining for business. I’m just there to help.”
“We’re all commodities,” he adds, voice rising in emotion. “We need to provide value other than just products. Most advisors are products; products, products.
“If I’m out on a date, and all I talk about is sex, guess what they think about me," Kaselnak concludes. "They know I’m not a gentleman. And if all I talk about is money, they know I’m must be a salesman.”
Check out Advisor Finds Hot Market: Other People’s Clients on ThinkAdvisor.