The Kind Of Planning Expertise That Boomers Want

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With the advent of the Internet, online investing and daily management of 401(k) accounts, baby boomers have become more knowledgeable than any other generation when it comes to securities and investments, says Terrance Kral, a partner with Kral, Goodenough & Kral, Inverness, Ill.

And it was because of all this knowledge that many boomers came to the conclusion they could do financial planning on their own, adds Daniel Childress, president of Financial Management Group Inc., Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

This strategy worked well for a while during the run up in the market, he says, but a lot of boomers 401(k) balances got hit when the market went south. “It really brought home the lesson to many boomers that they needed professional planning,” he says.

Now boomers are more demandingthey want more service and they want to work with planners who are specialists. “Theyre looking for a lot more; theyre looking for really knowledgeable people who can help them.”

But some feel boomers appear to be more demanding because theyre running out of time to save for retirement. “Boomers are trying to make up for lost time,” says C. Robert Brown Sr., president of UCL Financial Group, Memphis, Tenn.

Brown says boomers were taught when they were younger that a dollar today is not worth as much as a dollar tomorrowtaking inflation into consideration. As a result, they spent their money instead of saving it. “They were the poster children for consumption,” he says.

Since boomers today are trying to maximize their savings for a nearing retirement date, theres less room for error in their investments, which is adding to their anxiety and tensionresulting in a more demanding client, he says.

Boomers also recognize that one planner cannot be all things to all people, and as a result they have “become distrustful of planners who say they can personally do it all for them,” says Childress.

Rather, more boomers are leaning toward working with planners who are part of a firm that has access to expert resources, he says. “They recognize that one advisor may not have all the answers, but he or she can certainly help find those answers.”

Kral agrees. “One of the reasons we have a firm instead of being a sole practitioner is because we cant be an expert in every area.”

In addition to planning expertise, boomers are looking for more services from their advisors, adds Childress. “Boomers are going to listen to people who bring them a planning process that makes sense,” he says.

The process that has been successful for Childress with baby boomer clients involves the comprehensive planning model. “It has to be a complete process,” he says.

In addition, he says it is extremely important to maintain a high degree of contact with boomer clients, something many advisors fail to do. “Financial planning is not a document, its a process. It has to be a continual process.”

Furthermore, it is important that boomer clients understand the planning process and that they trust the firm they are working with has the expertise they need at hand.

“Theyre looking for organizations that have resources that can bring expertise to them, not just one individual whos going to be the all-encompassing expert in every area. People understand that doesnt exist,” he says.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, December 19, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.