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Unlocking the IRA retirement vault

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The opportunity we have now as advisors to the retirement market is the greatest our industry has ever seen. With approximately 10,000 people per day turning age 65 over the next 17 years, the IRA rollover market alone is estimated to be almost $3 trillion.

Furthermore, according to a research study by Brightwork Partners LLC, only 10 percent of all financial advisors focus solely on the retirement-planning market. Consequently, I believe that IRA distribution planning is the single most overlooked area in retirement advisement today. It has been and always will be a focus area for my practice.

All of these factors lead to an unbelievable opportunity. In today’s uncertain world, aging boomers and retirees are looking for answers. If you can not only give them those answers, but also provide them with answers to questions they didn’t even know to ask, you will compel them to take action and hire you to help them achieve their retirement goals.

The 5 percent rule

I believe in the 5 percent rule: Look at what 95 percent of what other advisors are doing, and do something else. Most advisors today focus on products when they assist clients. Most advisors do not truly understand the complex IRA distribution rules and how to position their advice to not only better serve their clients, but also to capitalize on these opportunities.

Early on in my career I saw the gap of service being provided in IRA distribution planning. It was then that I committed to becoming a true expert in the field. I searched out and learned from the best our industry has to offer, including Natalie Choate and Ed Slott. As I learned about the many complexities of IRA distribution planning, I began to see more and more how I could differentiate myself and rise to the top.

When you sit down with a client and begin analyzing their beneficiary forms in a way they’ve never experienced, you illustrate a couple of important points. One, that you are likely much more capable of providing comprehensive planning and advice that helps your clients avoid a catastrophic mistake. Two, that you are focused on a process with your clients, and not simply products. Now you have positioned yourself as a true advisor who is looking out for your clients’ best interests, rather than simply a product pusher who has no focus on helping clients zero in on the most important thing: helping them achieve their life’s goals in retirement and beyond.

Take the time to become a true expert on more than just the investment components of a client’s financial plan. The results will better serve your clients, and should help you significantly grow your practice.

“Early on in my career I saw the gap of service being provided in IRA distribution planning.”

Jim Brogan is president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn. He was named Senior Market Advisor’s 2011 Advisor of the Year.