1. What retirement issue has hit you or your clients out of left field, and how did you resolve it?
Eckerline: There wasn’t one retirement issue that hit me unexpectedly, but one that hit some of my clients was the decline in value of the safe part of their portfolio — mainly fixed income that has usually been non-correlated to the stock market. In the current credit crisis, fixed-income instruments like muni bonds have dropped significantly in value, causing retirees concern.
2. What prospecting methods have been most successful for you in attracting retirement-planning clients?
I have found in the current market, people — especially retirees — are looking for advice to make sense of what is going on. I’ve been reaching out to my clients and increasing my client contact through client education seminars, weekly e-mails, and most importantly client meetings. My clients know I’m there for them and have shared that with others, which has led to many new referrals.
3. Do you face any frequently occurring retirement-planning mistakes with prospects?
Many retirees underestimate what they need for income in retirement. When we sit down and do a Wealthbuilder, which is one of our planning tools at Merrill Lynch, we need to include a budget.