Are Financial Advisors Ageists?

In a conversation with a prominent retired financial advisor from a large institution, I heard the following:

“Financial advisors are not interested in retired people. They’re taking money out. The advisors are interested in investors who are putting money in, not the other way around.”Just hearing this generalization, whether true or not, gave me a kind of sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Millions of Boomers fall into this category of retired. If their advisors lose interest in them when they are no longer increasing their investments, where does that leave the retired person in need of advice? The generalization sounded like age discrimination.As a professional devoted to the well-being, financial safety and quality of life of older adults, I can only hope the statements I heard about lack of interest are untrue. I have met plenty of financial advisorswho are indeed interested in maintaining their relationships with their oldest clients, not just based on whether the portfolio is increasing. They actually do care about the clients. For them, it’s not just an empty advertising slogan. I hope this is the majority!Millions of clients served by advisors will retire soon enough or these clients are already in that phase of their lives. Competent financial advisors who have the ethics they hold themselves out as having will increase their skills in planning for lifespans for some of their clients who will live into their 90s and beyond. No logarithm nor mathematical table will do a complete job of this.

Here are some of the areas involved in longevity planning that the best advisors will fully understand by their increased training and preparation:

  • Social Security, and how to maximize the benefit .
  • Particularly with married couples, this requires specialized knowledge in order to give appropriate advice. When I asked my own long time B-D at our financial institution about it, he was very vague and couldn’t even refer me to anyone who could answer questions my husband and I raised. We fired him. We found an independent advisor who was very knowledgeable about Social Security. We referred three other people to this new advisor in the meantime and all became his clients. Take heed. Word spreads.
  • Long term care planning .
  • Telling a client who is reluctant to purchase long term care insurance that self-insuring is a choice is fine, but the longevity advisor understands how to address the risk of needing long term care and has actual figures at hand to spell this out for the client. If this is not your area of expertise, you can get a clear understanding of the costs of all types of long term care in my book, Hidden Truths About Retirement & Long Term Care. About 70% of people will need some long term care at some point. Know what it costs.
  • The nexus between financial planning and estate planning .
  • It never fails to surprise me about the disconnect between the financial advisor and the client’s estate planning attorney. Both should be working together to ensure that the client’s later years are financially safe. Successor trustees should be known by both the advisor and the lawyer, so that if a client begins to show cognitive decline, they can coordinate efforts to have the named successor take over decision making at the appropriate time. If you are worried about confidentiality of protected information, get the client’s permission in advance of any impairments, to communicate with the attorney involved. In other words, do this at the time of retirement.
  • Targeting relationship building with the next generation .
  • A loss of interest in a retired client deprives the advisor of a huge opportunity. That is, to establish a connection to and trust with your retired client’s heirs. Have you even spoken with any of them at the point of the aging investor’s retirement? If not, you have an explanation for the reason why about 80% of the heirs move their inherited assets to someone else after the patriarch or matriarch dies. The heirs can get to know you well in advance if you invite them, with your client’s permission of course, into the planning conversations. Don’t lose that chance.
  • In a nutshell, the older client needs the skill the financial advisor has and retirement should not change the advisor’s interestlevel. Keeping clients for life takes an understanding of longevity. Make it your business to do just that.