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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

The new wave of advisors

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There’s a new generation of advisors who are sweeping through the industry. By running a solution-based practice, becoming masters of the media, having effective communication skills and being extremely tech savvy, these young guns have found a winning equation in bridging the generation gap they have with their senior clients. Read on to learn the strategies that have paved their road to success.

Nolan Baker
The Retirement Specialists / Maumee, Ohio / Age: 33

What led you to making seniors a primary focus of your practice?
I knew the night that my dad passed away that working with seniors and retirees had to be the focus of my practice. My dad lived by the principles he taught me: Dad was a saver. He saved, preparing for a future retirement that would allow him to live like a king. Unfortunately, that day never came. I knew my dad’s retirement was gone but his dream wasn’t. I worked to carry out that dream by helping others to have an enjoyable retirement.

How do you communicate so effectively with someone 1-2 generations older than yourself?
When I was in my twenties, I knew my mission and vision but I looked and sounded like I was still 15. I had to overcome the challenge of communicating effectively with people that are generations older than me. [My time in] the Marines gave me the drive, the focus, and the discipline to adapt and overcome, but it was the tools I received from industry mentors that gave me the training I needed to be successful in the financial services industry. As a young advisor, I was now able to communicate effectively through the proper training, a defined process and a clear value proposition.

In what ways are you embracing or utilizing electronic media, including radio or television?
Since, 2001 I have hosted “The Retirement Guys Radio Show.” The show gives listeners the information they need to better manage their money, protect their hard-earned assets, and efficiently plan their estate. In 2008, I was promoted to being the financial columnist for the Toledo Free Press. Finally, our e-mail newsletter has over 2,000 subscribers that get monthly updates on the financial world and upcoming events.

What are the biggest challenges for advisors today and how are you overcoming them?
First, a financial professional will face challenges reaching a level of peak performance. You must be able to clearly separate yourself with a unique value proposition.

Second, in the current state of economic uncertainty it is vital to protect your clients’ financial future. The best way to accomplish this is to take a comprehensive approach by looking at all areas of a client’s financial life.

Finally, the quicker you clearly identify who your ideal client is, the faster you will be able to master the media. Those who are able to correctly position themselves will not only survive but will thrive in this type of environment.

What advice do you give other advisors who are focusing on the senior market?
The best thing an investment professional can do is to treat their business like a Fortune 500 company. Create and implement a process that organizes your company behind the scenes. Next, deal with your clients just as you would deal with a loved one in your family. They deserve personalized, outstanding service and respect that exceeds expectations. Finally, tell your story. It’s your experiences in life that have shaped where you are today. Remember, there are many seniors and retirees that will be counting on you.

Samuel L. Cione
Integrity Wealth Management Insurance | Sarasota, Fla. | Age: 35

What led you to making seniors a primary focus of your practice?
I’m Italian, born in New York City, and ever since I was a young child, I’ve always been around and felt more comfortable being around older folks, than most folks my age. When I started my own firm in 2002 after working for a wirehouse for years, I asked myself, “Where do I want to spend my time?” I wanted to deal with older folks who have a significant asset base. So we have a lot of meetings over cannoli.

How do you communicate so effectively with someone 1-2 generations older than yourself?
It all goes back to my comfort level. I deal with two different groups, traditional seniors and new seniors, the baby boomers, and each group likes interactions in different ways. Older seniors like to do business the way they were used to, back when they worked. This means lots of face-to-face, eye-to-eye meetings, often over a cup of coffee, sometimes for two or three hours at a time. I don’t use new technology when I meet with them; I don’t even have a computer on my desk in my office. Boomers, however, love new technology.

In what ways are you embracing or utilizing electronic media, including radio and television?
The best idea we’ve come up with, especially for the boomers, is to provide constant financial updates to them on their iPhones. I started doing this with a group of guys in the medical industry, and they love it. It’s even great for marketing?a client will be standing there, checking his messages from me, and someone else will ask, “how do I get to do that?” We do a little radio, but we’re in a pretty unique situation in Sarasota, which has a lot of seniors living here. We’ve worked very hard on our branding, and a lot of our business comes from existing clients and their neighbors, who always seem to be bragging about how well I’ve done for them when they’re reading their statement at the community mailbox.

What are the biggest challenges for advisors today, and how are you overcoming them?
Establishing trust and confidence. So many clients are still sitting there, waiting for the next shoe to drop, so you really have to work to develop their trust. Boomers see me as kind of a throwback, but seniors who were used to having the same milkman, the same mailman?well, I’m that guy. They like to know that I’m here and that I’m stable, and that gives them some peace of mind. Every six weeks or so we host a client event, maybe a bocce contest, and I tell new prospects to come and see 200 or so other people who trust me. I’ve worked to become embedded in the fabric of the community; I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce and I’m frequently referenced in the local newspaper.

What advice do you have for other advisors who are focusing on the senior market?
Start off with a good education, lead up with great product knowledge and, 100 percent of the time, always do what’s in the best interest of your clients. That may work for you, financially, or it may not, but you have to do what’s right for the client, every time.

Joshua Mellberg
J.D. Mellberg Financial / Tuscon, Ariz. / Age: 29

What led you to make seniors a primary focus of your practice?
I began my career setting up estate plans, conducting 800 interviews in my first year. These interviews taught me a lot about what it takes to be financially stable during retirement. I wanted to use what I learned to take the stress away from clients so they could enjoy their retirement years, instead of worrying about the market every day.

How do you communicate so effectively with someone 1-2 generations older than yourself?
Success in this field not does directly correlate to the number of years on your resume; rather the experience level is exponential. The more people you see, the more tools you gain and the more experienced you become. Every year, I conduct more than 1,500 appointments. This type of experience enables me to work on more complicated cases, bringing a greater value to my clients.

In what ways are you embracing electronic media and other media, including radio or television?
Part of the data we collect from our prospects and clients are their e-mail addresses, their financial concerns and what personally interests them. We utilize that information to e-mail pertinent articles and videos that are in alignment with those concerns and interests. We’ve found that the impact this has had is tremendous. Through constant contact we’re proactively serving their needs and keeping our clients educated and informed about the market and how it affects the lifestyle they desire.

What are the biggest challenges for advisors today, and how are you overcoming them?Demonstrating competency, ethics and credibility is often the biggest challenge for advisors today.
By the time a potential client comes in for an appointment, they have already heard my message and know I am competent. First, I find out exactly what they want. I repeat back what I have heard to ensure we are on the same page. I then ask them for permission to give my professional opinion, with any concerns I may have. My communications process is about building trust and coaching them on making sound decisions.

What advice do you give other advisors who are focusing on the senior market?
Invest in yourself and your education because the more you learn, the easier it’s going to get. Attend a seminar at least once a quarter, if not once a month, from top people in the profession. Also, find a mentor in your specific area of focus who is 10 times better than you, so you can learn from their expertise.

To obtain new clients, appointment volume is critical. My marketing efforts are focused on securing appointments with two new qualified leads a day. When you see enough people, you’ll do what is right for your client versus what it takes to pay the rent.

Learn how to solve for income. When I meet with a client my first discovery questions are about their Social Security and pension income. Then we discuss how we are going to fill in the gap with guaranteed streams of income so that they have income for life, even if a spouse passes.

Seth Stewart
Brookstone Financial / Jeffersonville, Ind. / Age: 35

What led you to making seniors a primary focus of your practice?
Two reasons:The first reason being that seniors have less time to plan. There is the constant concern of keeping risk and time in check.This is a critical stage of life because without proper planning, taxes and fees could consume a large portion of their estate. I often tell them that my job is to point out the possible landmines in their current plan. My firm is laser-focused on distribution and wealth transfer planning.

Secondly, I see myself as a watchdog for seniors.It is unfortunate that there are a handful of brokers and advisers taking advantage of them.?I feel that trust and integrity are more important with seniors than any other generation and those are two characteristics that I value most in my firm.

How do you communicate so effectively with someone 1-2 generations older than yourself?
I have always felt like I connect with seniors and that they connect with me. Although we are generations apart, it is so easy for me to find something in common such as fishing, hunting, golfing or even asking about the grandkids, since I have two little ones of my own.

When I sit down to plan for my senior clients, I imagine myself planning for my grandparents, under similar circumstances.

I spend a lot of time in the planning process with my clients. At the end of the day this truly is win-win. The client wins because they get the best possible solution, and I win knowing that I had a positive impact on not only the life of my client, but the life of their family for generations to come.

In what ways are you utilizing electronic media, such as radio or television?
I host a Saturday morning radio show in Louisville, Ky. called “21st Century Investor.” The show is broadcast on both AM and FM radio. The purpose of the show is to elaborate on the topics from our workshops. To increase our listening audience, we also started using billboards, which in turn drives more traffic to our workshops.

What are the biggest challenges for advisors today and how are you overcoming them?
It’s definitely the trust factor. You can’t blame seniors for being hesitant about trusting anyone giving them investment advice. I put on two workshops every month. It is important for me to hit this challenge head on. At the beginning of the workshop we go over all the licenses, registrations and credentials that they should be looking for. My firm is a member of both the National Ethics Bureau and Better Business Bureau, because we believe in being held accountable.

What advice do you give other advisors who are focusing on the senior market?
Finding a good mentor is essential in creating a solid practice. I try to surround myself with other professionals who understand the power of networking. You also have to realize that you can’t be all things to all people. Do your homework and know the key issues that seniors face and always, always, always put the client’s best interest before your own.


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