Approximately 76 million baby boomers are going through the retirement ringer, as we speak. The first baby boomer retired January 1st of 2006, and it’s said that there are some 8,000 people each day who will turn 60 years of age for the next 20 years. The marketplace for marketing annuities to this group is enormous.

Most of the boomers will be ready to retire within the next 10 to 20 years. The most critical years, according to Moshe A. Milevsky, a professor and president of QWeMA Group who has completed extensive research of the baby boomers, are the four years preceding retirement and the four years after retirement. These years are most crucial because, if you retire in a down market (and you won’t know you’re in a down market until after you have been in the market for a period of time), you could be doing the reverse of dollar cost averaging.

In other words, taking money to live on from mutual funds, etc., and selling shares that you unfortunately can’t afford to sell in a down market, is a cause for great concern. The reason for this is because a 50% loss must be followed by a 100% gain, just to get back to break even.

One of the best ways to market annuities to this marketplace is through the use of seminars. Look at your existing database and focus on people over age 50 and under the age of 75. It is advisable to offer a free consultation to the people who attend the seminar. If you get 35 to attend, 15 should be existing clients, and the rest should be friends of those clients. So, the seminar might be coined “friends helping friends.” You might want to consider sending a very nice quality invitation, wedding style.

Hold a seminar on either a Tuesday or a Thursday evening and have no more than 35 people in attendance. Create the seminar on your own, rather than using a “canned” seminar. If you build the seminar on your own, you have a better chance of buying in to what you are doing. Make sure that you get your material approved by your compliance department.

The seminar should be no more than an hour in length. You should serve dinner with no alcoholic beverages, and you should build the seminar based on the retirement dilemma of potentially “running out of money.” The fear for most seniors is outliving their income.

The greatest risk seniors face is loss of purchasing power. In other words, they may not lose their money, but they will lose the ability to purchase items that progressively become more expensive with inflation down the road. This is something that I would emphasize in the seminar. I would explain how the new variable annuity could solve this problem.

You must become familiar with the new guarantees that exist in annuities. I am a fan of the variable annuity and of the new guarantees that they provide. I am more in favor of a guaranteed withdrawal benefit vs. annuitization.

Unfortunately, when clients annuitize an annuity they are forced to leave the money with the insurance company and the insurance company credits a very low interest rate when the money is paid back. The new modern guaranteed withdrawal benefits guarantee an income over one’s lifetime (assuming the annuitant is over a certain age) with no downside of less income, but potentially more income with unlimited upside potential.

I don’t believe the indexed annuity really accomplishes this task, because you have to be aware of the cap and participation rate, which considerably hampers the growth on this type of annuity.

It is crucially important that you follow-up with the people who attend the seminar. Once the seminar is over, you must get on the phone and follow up with the people who attended and encourage them to come to see you for a “no obligation” free consultation. You will be amazed at the amount of business you will do as a result of holding the seminar.

Marc A. Silverman, MBA, CLU, ChFC, is president of Silverman Financial, Miami, Fla. You may e-mail him at .