At 31, Marcia Mantell was thrilled to step into retirement. Not her own — but the burgeoning financial services’ retirement industry. The year was 1992.
That’s when she joined Fidelity Investments’ in-house ad agency as account manager for its retirement products group. As it happened, she’d just witnessed a number of friends who were invested solely in company stock lose their entire retirement nest eggs when their employer, Polaroid Corp., went belly up.
“It was heart-wrenching. But suddenly I was working in retirement, and I realized that you can control your destiny if you learn how to invest for the future. It was so surprising and one of those unexpected bright lights that goes off in your career journey,” says the upbeat Mantell, based in Needham, Mass.
For two decades now, the industry vet has specialized in retirement business strategy. After 13 years at Fidelity, she opened her own practice, Mantell Retirement Consulting, in 2005, to help financial institutions focus on retirement. She is particularly enthused about enabling advisors to gain expertise and grow their retirement business.
“Marcia is very objective-driven but in a way that’s people-sensitive,” says Boston consultant Farrell Dolan, a former Fidelity colleague and now a Mantell client. “She presents her knowledge and understanding of issues in a way that really sparks a thought process.”
A popular speaker at industry conferences, such as Pershing’s Insite, Mantell guest-lectures at Bentley University and in March will present at the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) 401(k) Summit conference. With members of Congress and the IRS, she has discussed retirement strategies for small business owners.
At Fidelity, where she rose to vice president-marketing and product development, Mantell led the creation and launch of the firm’s Advisor Retirement Income Program. Now, a key concentration of hers is developing strategies for wirehouses, banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies and the like to help FAs specialize in retirement income distribution. Unlike the accumulation phrase, it requires adding a totally new skill set, Mantell says.
“Retirement income distribution goes beyond investments. But if advisors are serious about keeping their older clients and transitioning into a retirement income business, they need to learn this,” she says. “Most advisors have expertise in accumulation. But once the client stops working and gets to retirement income, it’s a whole new set of situations — not only investing but lifestyle and aging issues. The approach is very different.”
Mantell creates training programs, brochures, seminars and webinars, online content, retirement tools and more. Often she personally conducts FA training in the field.
To advisors who are targeting a retirement income-centric practice, Mantell serves up this important heads-up: “You need to develop deeper relationships with clients and have those tough conversations that come with aging.”