What retirement issue has hit you or your clients out of left field, and how did you resolve it?

Trevor Mathias: I’ve seen a lot of people who need growth in their portfolios to achieve goals lose focus and discipline by shifting their portfolios to more fixed income/cash. It has been hard to resolve this but I’ve tried to emphasize the benefit of long-term financial planning, and I am spending more time than normal educating people about market cycles.

What prospecting methods have been most successful for you in attracting retirement-planning clients?

Referrals have been the best source of attracting retirement assets, because usually when a person is laid off there usually are more of their friends with the same issues/concerns. Also, we have done seminars for companies going through layoffs, and this has generated some interest as well.

Do you face any frequently occurring retirement-planning mistakes with prospects?

The biggest mistake that prospects make is not having a plan. The first thing I try to do is determine a game plan for the prospect’s wealth goals and map it out to see if the vision is even possible given current and future resources.

What challenges do you face when modeling clients’ retirement incomes and cash flows?

Modeling cash flows and incomes has been very difficult on many fronts, because clients never really want to do a budget and fixed-income assets are not generating very high yields. So one thing I’ve tried to do is get clients to give me a real conservative budget (actual or estimate); then if we need to generate more yield, I discuss options from fixed annuities to corporate and emerging-market debt.

What mix of products and solutions do you use most often (for retirement income) and why?

The majority of my recommendations are centered around model portfolios we have constructed. The securities in these portfolios are mostly ETFs with some mutual funds and stocks.

I’ve found that focusing on asset allocation forces the client to think more about planning and less about the individual securities in their portfolio.