Kim Magdalein doesn’t remember FDR’s fireside radio chats, but some of the seniors who hear Magdalein’s radio show just might. The 21-year industry veteran and principal at Magdalein Stratton and Associates Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., runs a practice dedicated to seniors – no one under 50 allowed – and goes above and beyond for his clients.
Eric Stratton, Magdalein’s business partner, told me a story about Magdalein from a couple days before my interview with him. A female client who had never bought a car by herself asked Magdalein to accompany her to the dealership. He did, because that’s how an advisor builds and maintains relationships.
Magdalein, an SMA advisor-of-the-year finalist last year, says he has learned compassion through caring for his oldest daughter, who is mentally handicapped, and that caring has carried over into his professional life. He says advisors who work with seniors can’t be afraid to get involved in clients’ lives, even if that means dealing with a lot of end-of-life issues.
“Our clients are around the average age of 70,” he says. “Unfortunately, we have a lot of funerals to go to. I know that’s hard on your feelings sometimes because you get close to somebody and you lose friends a lot. But I think it’s very important.”
Senior Market Advisor: What sets your business apart from the others?
Kim Magdalein: When Eric and I started a few years ago, I was not excited about a partnership. He helped me get excited about it. What happened is that we were deciding how we were going to build this strategy in dealing with seniors. What we did not want to do is be product salespeople. We talked about this extensively. We felt that if we would serve seniors properly and take care of them the way they needed to be taken care of, the way they wanted to be taken care of, we would ultimately make a very fine living. But we didn’t want that to be the driving force. We wanted to be able to help them first and the result of it would be that we would be OK with it.
That’s the way we started the business. We started with seminars. We had a few referrals from a CPA. We worked with a CPA and told him we wanted to narrow our practice to just seniors and do away with young people, anybody under 50. So he referred some business to us and we started seminars, and we started mailing directly to the demographics we wanted to work with and allocated a certain amount of money in the early days to marketing and we actually never got to spend it. We did real well.
SMA: So you have people you work with to complete the whole package?
KM: We recognized the fact that we could not be all things to all people. The next thing we did was find an attorney. We had to find more than one attorney. But we wanted to find an attorney we could refer to as far as legal matters were concerned because the discussions always went in legal directions during our fact-finding process. We would talk about succession planning: “What is going to happen with your money when you are through with it?” They would say, “I want to do this and this and this.” We realized we were right on the edge of giving legal advice. What happened was that a number of people had blended families and special needs children and all types of things like that. We had to find attorneys who could help them and give them advice. We started sitting down with the attorney and a prospective client and talking about the issues. We learned a lot about it. So, I’m probably about 80 percent proficient in the knowledge I need about these things. But, 80 percent is not good enough, and I think we need to be with an attorney at 100 percent so clients can know everything they need to know in succession planning.
We meet with the clients, with the attorney, and in some cases, even the CPA. We found with the attorneys that there were a lot of ways we could help seniors without having to buy insurance and they wouldn’t have to go to that expense. We wouldn’t have learned that without that holistic approach we’re trying to take to it.
SMA: So having access to the attorneys, having access to the CPAs, and your guys’ knowledge on top of that, is that what you consider the holistic approach?
KM: Yes. In my opinion, I think it borders on malpractice if you were trying to give someone advice that is outside of your field. But they need the advice. So, I think it is very important that you have a team. The team has to be able to work together. We work very closely with one attorney who actually opened an office in our building. In Florida, you can’t actually house with an attorney. He opened an office in our building so we can send folks to him. He sends folks to us. We actually meet on a regular basis. When we are through talking to clients about money, sometimes we’ll send them right down the hall and they’ll talk about the legal issues. We’ll integrate everything so we’re all on the same page. The beneficiaries are the same on products as they are on their legal papers. We have to make sure that whatever the legal documents say, we have it correct on the financial documents.