At the TD Ameritrade Institutional conference in January, I participated in a panel session on how advisors can work with the media.
Before sharing my words of wisdom with the packed room (okay, it was a breakout, not a general session, but still), I shared a little speech I use every time I have the privilege of addressing a group of advisors.
“As the editor of publications that serve advisors,” I began, “you are not only my readers, but my bosses. If you don’t read Investment Advisor and ThinkAdvisor.com, advertisers won’t advertise. If advertisers don’t advertise, we don’t get revenue, and I’m out of a job.
“As my bosses, then, for the past 15 years and counting, I’d like to report on what I’ve done with my pay. My wife and I paid off our mortgage last year [pause for applause; it always happens]. We’ve put both our children through college and they now have bachelor’s degrees [more applause]. Moreover, I’d like to report to you that both Annie and Kevin have full-time jobs, with benefits! [More applause, with some laughter.] Not only that, but one of them has even moved out of the house! [Peals of laughter ensue; again, the response happens every time.]”
Then I make my big point. “And since my full retirement age is 66, and I’m now nearing age 62, I’d appreciate it if you’d keep me employed for the next four and a half years!” More laughter and applause, and then I say something very insightful and clever about how my advisor bosses can work with the media to help build their brands.
But that’s not exactly why I was reminded of why I love advisors so much. After the media session, the next general session at TDAI was lunch. As I sat down at a table full of advisors, several told me they enjoyed my presentation.
Then one advisor leaned across the table and said to me firmly, “I only wish you had said you were going to continue working until you were 70, to maximize your Social Security benefits.” I loved this woman!
We had planned for some time to do our cover story this month by Melanie Waddell on how advisors can provide added value to even their high-net-worth clients by optimizing their Social Security benefits claiming strategies. Waddell quotes William Meyer, founder of Social Security Solutions, as saying that “the average advisor’s client is getting $1 million out of Social Security” during the course of their retirement. “It’s their largest asset.”
If that’s not reason enough to get schooled on the best Social Security strategies for all your clients, she also found some legal experts who suggest that not optimizing those strategies, or at least offering to do so, might create some liability for advisors, particularly you fiduciary advisors out there.
There’s another reason to do so: Marketing yourself as a provider of those strategies can help set you apart from your competition. It can become part of the unique story you tell about yourself and your firm.
When I thank advisors for employing me, and tell a story about my wife and my children, I’m also trying to make a point about marketing. At the TD media session, I didn’t get a chance to say that I divulged that personal information not out of braggadocio but as a sly reminder that in this age of social media, sharing your personal story is a must to attract not just younger people as clients, but even old folks like a 61-year-old editor. Hone your personal story (and your firm’s story), and make sure everybody in your firm knows and appreciates that story and uses it in interactions with prospects and clients.
Meanwhile, please keep me employed serving you for the next eight and a half years, and I’ll be sure to report back on my subsequent accomplishments. For one thing, I suspect I’ll “file and suspend” when I reach 66.