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Starting relationships in a changing world

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Have you noticed the world is changing? It’s almost like the kaleidoscopes I played with as a child. All you had to do was turn the end and the picture transformed.

In fact, it appears that change is the only thing that’s consistent these days. The advisor of today must be nimble enough to keep up with his shifting environment. But how do you keep up with your prospecting and planning as the landscape keeps changing?

The answer is, some things never change. People will still age, get sick and die. After 60 years old, the aging process affects all of us the same way. Our federal government has addressed this process with what I call the social insurance platform. It consists of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If you live long enough, you’ll probably participate in the first two and maybe all three. So will your clients and, more broadly, your prospects.

Related: 22 Social Security facts you (and your clients) should know

Of course, there are problems with most policies and these federal entitlement programs have serious flaws. Namely, they are incomplete. While Social Security offers an income, it’s not enough. Medicare covers major medical needs, but not all. Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for the impoverished.

Since all three of these programs are incomplete, advisors have an opportunity to fill the coverage gaps. Any of the three entitlements have opportunities for entry into a relationship with a pre-retiree or retiree.

But how can you enter this relationship? You can begin with a transactional proposal. Starting the discussion with Social Security, for example, will open up an opportunity to supplement the shortfall.

For instance, let’s look at a 61-year-old who is in the process of deciding when to take a Social Security check. Here’s the dilemma: How much will he get at the age of 62, 66, or 70? Which age will make the most sense? Will he continue to work? Would it be necessary? Can you create a private pension at a future date to supplement his retirement date? Sure you can — with a rollup on an income rider.

You can show this client how to plan retirement with certainty. That’s an entry opportunity, and a great place to establish a relationship with a transactional sale.

What about going forward? Another continuing discussion should be about the fact that Medicare only covers part of the health care costs for the elderly. Medicare needs a supplement or at least a switch to Medicare Advantage. (Medicare supplements tend to be the better choice because a client can purchase an F plan that gives them maximum coverage, and you can seek clients who are more affluent.) It’s not necessary to actually sell Medicare supplements, but it won’t hurt you to know them inside and out. This entry into a relationship allows you an opening to continue with a Social Security discussion, or better yet, a discussion of long-term care.

But why stop there? Long-term care is the greatest risk to a retiree’s financial plan. This risk could loom large and cause serious problems that should be addressed by any serious advisor.

You can easily enter this relationship, and any of the three entitlement discussions, then expand the conversation into a broader plan. Just be sure to take a fact-finder or a single page FAQ with you to these meetings so you’re ready to answer questions.

Marketing methods can also be confined to entry discussions. When you market to a specific need at the appropriate time in a person’s life, you are likely to get real appointments. There are excellent marketing methods for all three of the entitlement discussions. It’s much easier to enter a relationship with the transaction rather than attempting to establish a client with everything, initially.

Some advisers try to go too far, too fast, by opening the discussion with everything. Others never go any further than an initial transaction. Both are leaving money on the table for someone else. Personally, I like my family too much to give away potential income to other advisors.

Read more columns by Kim Magdalein:

Reboot your practice by solving these 7 retiree problems

Prospecting lessons from ultra-achievers

The little things count in insurance and finance marketing

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