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Financial Planning > UHNW Client Services > Family Office News

Handling Details For Seniors Could Be Coming Opportunity, Exec Says

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Edmond Walters, chairman and CEO of eMoneyAdvisor, Conshohocken, Pa., sees a lucrative new business opportunity opening up as the U.S. population ages.

Increasingly, financial advisors will provide services to senior clients who feel overwhelmed by paperwork and money-handling chores that hamper the pleasures of retirement, Walters predicts.

Seniors–from middle-income to wealthy–increasingly will look for help in mundane cash-flow tasks such as paying bills, balancing checkbooks, filing insurance claims and scheduling medical appointments, Walters says.

His company, a subsidiary of Commerce Bancorp Inc., Cherry Hill, N.J., provides financial advisors with an Internet-based financial planning and advisory service platform so they can link to their customers over the Web.

He expects many financial advisory businesses to add specialists in elder care to their staff to provide what he terms “retirement management services.”

“This is not something that is going to happen–it is happening,” he says flatly.

Not only seniors but also their boomer children are asking for such assistance. The “sandwich generation,” caught between obligations to their own kids as well as their parents, is looking for relief, he says.

“They can’t afford to leave their jobs to do this,” Walters says. “They complain they’re helping their parents out so much, it’s affecting their time with their children.”

Early entrants into the market are targeting seniors earning at least $75,000 to $100,000 annually and having a net worth between $1 million and $5 million, he says. It has become economical to service clients in that relatively modest financial range because recent developments in technology allow firms to scale down their practice, using software and Internet-based tools.

“For example, you can create a family page for a client that lets you aggregate the family’s assets and update the data every night. Whereas in the old days it would take 3 to 5 administrators to take care of 10 clients for, say, $2,000 each, technology lets you take care of the finances of as many as 20 clients using only one administrator for just $1,500 each–and still make money,” he explains.

Advisors will evolve services analogous to the family office that some ultra-wealthy families set up to manage their complex finances, Walters believes.

Dan Taylor, CEO of Parent Care Solutions, Charlotte, N.C., trains advisors to be what he calls “parent care specialists.” Many are financial advisors, although they don’t need an insurance or broker license to provide such services as bill paying, checkbook balancing or even management of certain long term care needs.

Bundling such diverse assistance into a single source makes it easy for boomers and their aging parents to avail themselves of the services. Financial advisors can either offer them in-house or develop relationships with parent-care specialists to whom they can refer clients, he says.

Taylor believes the field is wide open to advisors or accountants who have been in business for 10 to 15 years and already have a number of older and boomer clients

“Financial advisors can own this business if they get involved now,” he says. “I actually think there’s more money to be made in this business than in commission-based business.”

Another firm, InvestLinc Group, Cleveland, specializes in providing wealth management services to affluent customers. This includes a health care concierge service known as HealthLinc that gives physicians associated with the Cleveland Clinic access to clients’ medical records via the Internet.

InvestLinc offers its services to clients with a minimum net worth of $10 million, says chairman and CEO Richard Cott. Its wealth services division integrates individual and family financial planning, handles taxes, manages insurance, supervises cash flow, pays bills, balances checkbooks and, basically, “offers every service an elder person might need,” Cott says.

Providing family office services is a key market for InvestLinc.

“All of our clients are business owners or have been owners, so many need an office for managing both their business affairs and family affairs. Some actually have almost a whole office building for the purpose.”

InvestLinc runs clients’ family offices where desired, providing a personal chief financial officer to families requesting such services to pay bills and work with attorneys and money managers, all of whom it can provide in-house.

Although Cott’s company caters to the wealthy, he believes retirement-management services are becoming increasingly practical for financial advisors serving investors with much lower net worth.

“Many accounting firms are also going to start offering a suite of services that cater to folks looking for help with personal affairs,” he predicts.

Accountants and law firms can also be valuable in providing referrals to financial advisors seeking clients for senior services, he says.

“We have many accounting and law firms that became key referrals for us,” Cott says. “A person doesn’t have to work for us to be an evangelist in this market place.”


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