As I take my leave of the managing editor position at SMA, something I can offer to advisors is a view from the outside from someone who’s been privy to the inside. This is an industry with the potential for advisors to do great things. Giving someone the peace of mind to know he won’t be able to outlive his money has to provide a feeling of satisfaction most other professionals will never know. Every day I talk to people who are able to provide that to retirees and those about to retire.
I am encouraged by the stories I hear from advisors, stories about how a well-built financial plan has ensured a widow’s future and paid for college for her grandchildren. Advisors who are doing the right thing – and there are far more of them than the shady ones – have to be the flag-bearers for ethical behavior in this industry. And they can’t be satisfied to let their spotless records speak to their ethics. They need to be talking about doing the right thing, about putting the client before any commission, about acting on their scruples because it’s the right thing to do and not because it looks good at a sales seminar. The next wave of clients will demand that.
I’m reminded, as I sit here listening to Bob Dylan’s latest recording, that baby boomers are your next wave of clients. (Granted, Dylan isn’t technically a baby boomer, but he fueled the boomers’ imaginations for a good part of the 1960s.) Your job is about to get a lot more interesting. Boomers are the generation that changed everything, and retirement will be no exception. They are going to want to work and travel and shop and start new businesses and spoil their grandchildren. And they are going to want to do all that despite their dismal savings rate. Do the math.
Multiple ways exist to meet the demands of the approaching boomer retirement. One thing I keep hearing is that advisors who stick with the old methods of selling products and moving on to the next case are going to become dinosaurs. They’ll be extinct. This industry is all about service, not sales. Good advisors solve problems and propose solutions.