Keith Millner says financial advisors have to do more to push baby boomers to the next planning level.[@@]

Millner, a senior vice president at Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, spoke here at the annual meeting of the National Association for Variable Annuities, Falls Church, Va.

About 25 financial advisor designations start with the letter “C,” but none of designations includes the word “coach, Millner said.

Today, “consumers need trained professionals to act like coaches instead of commissioned sales people,” Millner argued. “People are in denial, particularly the baby boomer generation. They are not engaged in behavioral change, and they need help.”

Many advisors focus on the consumers who have the most money, but “what about the rest of the population?” Millner asked.

The financial services industry needs to find creative ways to reach the individuals in the middle market, Millner said.

If the industry can reach the middle market, “there is money to be made,” Millner predicted.

Transparency will be especially important in efforts to reach the middle market, and the industry will have to spend the next 5 to 10 years winning the trust of the individuals in the middle market, Millner said.

“Many investment professionals don’t have the training or the interest to change the way they talk to consumers,” Millner said. “It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to focus on training and not on closing.”