Clients look to their financial professionals for guidance on a number of issues when planning for retirement. And as we get older, we learn that one of the most important topics in the financial services industry is also one of the more confusing topics—Social Security. A financial professional should review and understand the benefit of Social Security in order to best serve their clients and prepare them for the future.
Wondering where to start? Focus on the following: educating, asset gathering, and prospecting.
Use your firm-approved materials and presentations to answer your clients’ questions on Social Security and get them more comfortable with this topic. Then ask them to reflect on their own personal situations and think about when they plan to take this benefit, as well as if they plan to work in retirement or not. This will help both you and them to gauge where they stand financially, if their current goals are achievable, or if changes need to be made.
As a financial professional, you probably have clients that have already elected to take Social Security. Now is a great time to discuss with them why they chose the time period they did. Did they file early or did they wait until full retirement age? If they had to do it over again, would they choose the same option? What things do they wish they had considered prior to electing? Building a database of real-life examples can help align clients with similar situations. Start curating your stories so that when your next client is seeking recommendations, you can share with them a story of a client that was in a similar situation and what worked or may not have worked for them.
2. Asset Gathering
One idea that is rarely thought about with the topic of Social Security is asset gathering. To be successful in retirement, clients need to think about all sources of income and what their needs will be. It can sometimes be less about the client’s timing of filing for Social Security, and more about aligning their revenue to meet their retirement goals.
Work with your clients to make a list of all the sources of income they plan to live off of in retirement. This will include their savings and their income from Social Security, but also from other accounts. For example, perhaps your client has an old IRA, or a 401(k) from a prior employer. Use this opportunity to discuss consolidating and cleaning up these old accounts. Work with your clients to understand the different plans to which they are contributing. Then help them to re-organize their assets, centralize their accounts, and ultimately eliminate confusion to ensure that their goals in retirement can be achieved.
If many of your clients are coming to you worried or with questions around Social Security, it is probably safe to assume that they have friends, relatives, and/ or neighbors that are similar in age and have similar questions.
Take this as a great opportunity to help educate a broader group, ease their worries, and possibly attract new clients in the process. Keep in mind one widely-used, valuable tool that can be used to reach and teach a wide audience right now: video conferences. Host a Social Security video conference for your clients, and ask them who else they know that has questions about this topic that could benefit from some of this information. Have your clients invite them to your next webinar or video call as your client’s guest. Take this opportunity to continue to build your book of business, and while you’re at it, turn your Social Security video conference into a social event!
Educating your clients on a topic that may make them feel uncomfortable is an important part of a financial professional’s role. Help them to prepare and de-stress by educating them, helping them to align their assets, and walking them through how Social Security can benefit their lives specifically. By doing this, you will help them plan accordingly and live comfortably in retirement, and possibly gain new clients along the way.
Michael Lynch is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC.
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