Marketing Corner – Highlights from The New Genworth Cost of Care Study

Marketing Corner – Thursday, October 12th, 2017

New Genworth Study – Need to Knows

One of the most important things for retirees and pre-retirees to consider is the impact long-term care can have on their retirement. The trade-off of our longer life expectancies is the increasing likelihood of a long-term care condition or other medical situation. Obviously, a persistent medical condition can reduce the quality of life, but with high costs, a long-term care condition can result in significant financial damage.

To illustrate this, each year Genworth conducts a comprehensive survey of long-term care costs from sources all over the country. Here are some key highlights from the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Study.

Cost Increases Since Last Year

Across numerous long-term care categories, such as home health aide services, homemaker services, adult day health care, nursing home care and more, the 2017 Genworth study found significant increases over 2016 figures. For example, the national median hourly rate for home health aide services is $22 per hour, an increase of 6.17% over what the survey found last year. The National median for semi-private nursing home care is $235 per day, a percentage increase of 5.50% since 2016.

Cost Increases Over A Five Year Period

The study also looked at increases over the last five years for the categories mentioned in the previous paragraph. While not as sharp of an increase, they do trend upward. Homemaker services experienced a five-year annual growth rate of 3.08%, while nursing home care (private room) experienced an increase of 3.76%.

Projected Cost Increases Over The Next Ten Years Are Alarming
The national medians for long-term care costs are projected to increase significantly over the next 10 years. For instance, the annual median cost of care in an assisted living facility is projected to climb to $60,476 from $45,000. The 2027 national median for private room nursing home care is expected to rise to $130,971 from $97,455 in 2017.

Highs and Lows By State

The US state with the highest median for home health aide? Got to be New York or California right? Actually, it is North Dakota, at $63,972 per year, with Alaska, at a close second of $63,492. This actually makes sense, given the low population and lower service providers of these states. With people leaving large cities for the suburbs and rural areas, this may become a problem down the line. Curiously, Kentucky has the lowest median for home health aide at $34,892 and a 0% 5-year growth rate for this category.

This is only a snapshot of one category the study looked at. You can see the state by state breakdown here.

To take an interactive look, and to drill down to select cities, use this tool available on Genworth’s website.

**

What does this all mean? While the numbers are specific to one study (a comprehensive one, for sure) they do show clients the high cost of long-term care. Without sufficient protection, retirement can be derailed, exhausting resources and burdening families.

Complimentary 2017 CD Replacement Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – Millennials and Retirement

Marketing Corner – Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Millennials and Retirement

There’s no definite age range that defines the Millennial generation. Typically, you’ll find that many sources, publications, and institutes will offer a range somewhere between 1982-1995, though we’ve seen ages as far back as 1978 and as far forward as 2000.

This generation is relevant to financial advisors for many reasons. For one, some Millennials are now reaching their peak earning years, starting families, and otherwise presenting planning opportunities. Some Millennials may have a ways to go before hitting their financial stride, but will present opportunities in 5-10 years. Along with members of Gen-X, Millennials are set to receive the largest transfer of wealth ever. And, with retirement further off, Millennials are primed to benefit the most from early planning, with room for a mix of strategies.

You may be asking yourself, though, what do Millennials really think about retirement? How prepared are they for retirement?

Here is a quick shot of important facts about Millennials and Retirement.

Millennials Do Save For Retirement…

82% Millennials surveyed participate in an investment savings account. This actually outpaces what Gen X (77%) and Boomers (75%) reported in the survey. The explanation? Auto-enrollment in employee-sponsored plans. While this indicates that some Millennials may have an eye on retirement, the likely situation is that many Millennial employees accept their simple choices without further thought toward higher contribution levels. This can be great for Millennials to get a jump start on their retirement, but may mean they could benefit from dedicated, managed planning solutions.

…But They Do Not Save Enough, And Some Have Nothing

In a survey conducted by GOBankingRates, 61% of “Older Millennials” (defined here as those aged 25-34) have $1000 or less saved. The majority of this group (41%) have nothing saved. However, the number of those with $10,000 saved rose 5% over the previous years’ study (20%). Millennials do save earlier than previous generations. In contrast to Generation X and Boomers (age 27 and 31 respectively) the average Millennial with access to a defined contribution plan starts at age 23. This according to the 2016 Natixis Retirement Plan Participant Study, which also finds that most Millennials only contribute between 1% and 4.99%.

A Majority Are Unsatisfied With Their Financial Lives

A recent survey conducted by Wells Fargo found that the majority (69%) of Millennials want to get over their anxiety regarding money. And while nearly all surveyed (98%) indicated that feeling financially secure was important to their lives, only 32% stated they were satisfied with their financial lives. What’s more is that the study found that while 77% of Millennials do not have a financial advisor, nearly 40% state they want one.

Some Millennials Have Redefined Retirement

Another study found that Millennials save, but not necessarily for retirement. Rather—reflecting Millennial values—this generation saves for life experiences and desired lifestyles. Paradoxically almost, as quoted by head of Merrill Edge Aron Levine, “Young adults…are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve freedom and flexibility, even if it means working for the rest of their lives.”

Saving, But Not Planning

A recent Insured Retirement Institute report echoes what the Merrill Edge study found regarding this redefinition of retirement:

“Millennials want flexibility and choice during retirement: the majority associate the word ‘freedom’ with their feelings about retirement, and 50 percent believe retirement means being able to decide whether, and/or how much, to work.”

And as IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford put it “While Millennials are saving, most are not planning.” What does this all ultimately mean? It suggests that the Millennial generation is primed for smart retirement strategies and for financial advisors to help them actualize their retirement goals.

Complimentary 2017 CD Replacement Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – CD Replacement Month

Marketing Corner – Thursday, September 28th, 2017

CD Replacement Month

30 Years Ago The Markets Crashed. Why Does This Present A Sales Opportunity for Advisors Today?

October 19th of this year represents the thirty-year anniversary of a significant event in market history, the effects of which as still being felt today. Black Monday (October 19th, 1987) is the name ascribed to a large market crash that not only affected America but countries all over the world, where it is sometimes referred to as Black Tuesday, because of time zone differences.

So what happened on Black Monday? Well, for one, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a staggering 22.61%, the index’s largest percentage drop, a record that still stands today. The damage was wide-spread, not just impacting specific sectors or segments of the market, but affecting markets as a whole. There’s a reason why October 19th is sometimes referred to as the first modern crash.

There are many proposed causes—program trading, overvaluation, illiquidity, market fears about inflation, interest rates and more. Many at the time thought Black Monday was a precursor to another Great Crash. Markets did eventually rebound, but there still remained a great deal of volatility, culminating in aftershocks and mini-crashes, such as the Friday the 13th mini-crash (Oct. 13th, 1989).

How does this relate to Certificates of Deposits and the opportunity for you, the advisor? As markets dived in 1987, consumers withdrew their exposed investments and transferred their money into Certificates of Deposit. With guaranteed interest rates and FDIC backing, CDs seem like a safe place to place money and immunize against market volatility.

However, due to their low rate of return, CDs, do not hedge against inflation very well, when compared to other products, like certain annuities. This is especially true with long-term CDs that many consumers automatically renew out of habit. This means that some consumers may be losing real-world value that could be parlayed into another solution that works better against inflation and could provide lifetime income. Because six-month and twelve-month CDs are up for renewal, October and April are often referred to as CD replacement months.

Consider the impact of inflation during the time period between 1986 and 2016. Using inflationdata.com (which bases its tool from the CPI calculator published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) the total inflation for this thirty year span of time is 119.08%. This means that something that cost $50,000 in 1986 would cost nearly 120% more in 2016 ($109,540.83). For your clients or prospects that are nearing retirement, this represents a significant loss of real value. Consider also that in the thirty years since Black Monday, average CD interest rates have, on the whole, decreased.

Obviously, every consumer presents a unique situation. For some, CDs may still meet their needs. Others may be unaware of other options. However, this means that October gives you a good opportunity for review, discussion, and product sales.

To help agents and advisors take advantage of these CD replacement opportunities, Legacy Financial Partners is offering a complimentary CD replacement kit.

Click here or go to https://legacy-financial-partners.com/cdreplacement/ to claim your copy.

Complimentary 2017 CD Replacement Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – Five Ways Advisors Kill Their Marketing Effort

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Five Ways Advisors Kill Their Marketing Efforts

Compared to tangible products and services, such as cars, retail, or plumbing, marketing financial services can be very difficult. Add to this that most advisors don’t want to deal with marketing—they want to focus on what they do best, meeting clients and advising. Consider also the level of trial and error that can come into play with small business marketing, it’s easy to see how marketing and prospecting can become discouraging. In this week’s Marketing Corner we wanted to highlight ways advisors sabotage or undermine their own marketing efforts.

Having Too High Of Expectations

There are many different kinds of marketing activities an advisor can use to engage their consumer base and build brand awareness. However, it’s crucial to have a balanced expectation of the results you can receive. What’s a good baseline to determine expectations? That will depend. Every type of activity will have its own metrics for measurements. A decent mail response rate can be between .5% and 1%. Good click-through-rates for display advertising may be somewhere between .5% and 2%, depending on the nature of the campaign. You might only care about one metric—new clients—but typical rates can serve as benchmarks for you to evaluate your marketing. Keep in mind that other factors can complicate results and a campaign can succeed (or fail) for any number of reasons.

Not Utilizing Multiple Approaches

One big reason advisors get discouraged when a marketing campaign goes bust is that they rely on one single platform. If you have one marketing activity that consistently works for you, you certainly don’t want to fix what isn’t broke, but having multiple approaches to your marketing can enhance what works and provide coverage for what may not. For instance, if you are interested in trying seminar marketing, how else can you promote your event, besides direct mail? How can you target a group of individuals through multiple means to increase the likelihood of response? Generally, there won’t be a single marketing activity that builds your brand and attracts new prospects (though there may be one or two that works better for you), which is why having multiple marketing activities can help you see positive results.

Letting Leads Decay

No matter what business you are in, leads decay the longer you wait to follow-up with them. The duties that come with running your practice and serving your current clients can certainly make timely follow-ups difficult. This is why you should have a defined lead follow-up process. Automation can help, especially if the lead is digital.

Avoiding Social Media

Many advisors will avoid some (or all) social media platforms, simply because they don’t see the benefits for their line of work. And a few years ago, it might have been true that a Facebook page for a financial advisor or agency would have been unnecessary. But in our current environment, social media platforms can serve as important hubs to engage prospects, build digital presence, and develop credibility. You might not build a large audience right away or get new clients banging on your door, but social media activity of some sort is crucial to your overall marketing strategy.

Not Doing Enough Volume

It is important to perform marketing activities at a high enough volume (or spend) to let averages come into play. If a vendor quotes a .1% response rate for a mail campaign and you only do a volume of, say, 500 pieces, then the number of responses you might expect is 5. When you consider other factors that can impact a campaign—such as weather, timing, messaging, and geography—then that typical response rate of 5 at 1% can easily be whittled down to 1 or 2. Without a high enough volume, your response rates can become statistically (or effectively) zero.

October is CD Replacement Month

Get a head start!

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – The Financial Life Spectrum

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

The Financial Life Risk Spectrum

When working with prospects and clients, advisors often focus on one specific need and one specific solution. This is generally because consumers don’t seek out financial services until a pressing need arises, like say the birth of a child, loss/gain of a job, or other significant life events. For consumers in this position, it can be hard to have a long view of their financial life. We know that, while financial needs change over the course of one’s life, they do not disappear as a consumer ages from peak earning years to retirement.

One way to illustrate the long view with a consumer is a yellow-pad concept called the Financial Life Risk Spectrum. This concept follows, somewhat, the basics steps of financial planning, with three main phases: Accumulating Assets, Protecting Assets, and Extending Assets.

Accumulating Assets (45-65)

Most consumers typically build their assets around age 45-65. The main risk in this phase is that an individual could die prematurely. The emotional loss would certainly be devastating, but the financial impact to the consumer’s household could be significant. Life insurance will protect the consumer’s family should this happen.

 

Other risks:

Risk

Solution

Consumer may experience a long-term care or disabling condition

Consider LTC/Disability coverage, especially if there’s a family history

Assets may not accumulate fast enough to meet retirement time horizon

Consider cash value accumulation products (FA, permanent insurance)

Consumer may be over-exposed to market changes

Consider products with limited market exposure (FIUL, FIA)

Protecting Assets (65-85)

As a consumer transitions into retirement, the main risk they face becomes an expensive medical situation. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, most Americans age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. A long-term care or chronic illness condition can be extremely costly, drain important retirement resources, and burden family members. Chronic Illness Protection can help defray this risk.

Other Risks:

Risk

Solution

Taxes upon distribution of assets

Tax-advantaged products

Misallocation/improperly structured assets

Restructuring assets/delaying Social Security

Gaps in Medicare coverage

Medicare Supplement (Medigap)

Extending Assets (85-100)

As life expectancies extend, more and more individuals need to consider what their resources will be in ages 85-100. While thinking about what life will be like at age 90 may be abstract to younger consumers in their peak earning years or those phasing into retirement, it is important that steps are taken as early as possible. So even if our consumer didn’t die early or face a difficult medical situation, they still have a challenge in retirement: outliving their money. Most people don’t want to have to return to work and at this age (85-100) may not be physically able to. Longevity protection solutions can secure a guaranteed source of income that cannot be outlived.

Other Risks:

Risk

Solution

Lower interest rate environment

A mix of asset classes

Inflation

Products with guaranteed returns and/or accumulation

Death of a spouse

Survivorship benefits

Complimentary 2017 Life Insurance Awareness Month Marketing Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Here’s what the yellow-pad concept looks like as a diagram:

Marketing Corner – The Road to Retirement

Marketing Corner – Thursday September 7th, 2017

The Road to Retirement, sometimes called “The Bridge” or “Bridging The Gap,” is a useful yellow-pad concept for a number of reasons. It illustrates many of the challenges a consumer faces as they drive toward retirement, the tools that can be used to address these challenges, and a specific product (Indexed Universal Life Insurance) that can provide the final layer of protection.

In Step 1, we see that there is a gap between now and retirement.

How does one cross a large gulley like this? With a bridge of course (Step 2).

Unfortunately, as we see in Step 3, there are many factors that can weaken or break our bridge. These downward forces include:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Market Volatility
  • Taxation

The bridge can be strengthened with the trusses of tax-deferral and insurance, as we see in Step 4. Tax-deferral allows a consumer to accumulate a greater amount of funds before facing a tax-liability, while insurance protects against some risks.

However, even with these extra protections, should there be a market downturn, the consumer can swerve right off the bridge, just as retirement appears on the horizon.

This is where Indexed Universal Life Insurance—with its guaranteed return and upside potential—can provide the guardrails needed to keep the consumer on the road. (Step 5).

The final interpretation of this yellow pad concept should look a bit like this:

Complimentary Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – Life Insurance Trivia

Marketing Corner – Thursday August 31st, 2017

Life Insurance Trivia

You Can Use Life Insurance To Give Whiskers
The Good Life After You’re Gone

While most insurance carriers won’t allow you to directly name your cat or dog beneficiary since states generally consider pets to be property, you can use life insurance to fund a pet trust. This will make sure that your beloved animal lives out the remainder of its life in style. Since other family members (and even courts) may find this arrangement distasteful, a pet trust will need to be properly structured. Trouble Helmsley, the Maltese recipient of $12 Million from Leona Helmsley, famously had his inheritance reduced to a mere $2 million after the hotelier’s grandchildren contested.

The Apollo 11 Astronauts’ Unusual Life Insurance Policy

Certain occupations and hobbies can incur high-risk ratings or preclude life insurance coverage altogether. But what if your job is an astronaut and your mission is to go to the moon? This is what the astronauts of Apollo 11 faced. With prohibitively high coverage options, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins resorted to a creative solution—autographed “covers,” signed envelopes post-marked on significant days. In the event of their death, the astronauts knew their autographs would fetch a great sum.

The Largest Life Insurance Policy Ever

According to Guinness World Records, an anonymous, but “well-known,” Silicon Valley billionaire purchased the most valuable life policy ever in 2014. The coverage amount? $201 million. This doubles the previous record of $100 million set in 1990. The most valuable policy was unsurprisingly complex, involving 19 different insurance companies for the underwriting.

Unclaimed Benefits Amount

According to Consumer Reports in 2013, the amount of unclaimed life insurance benefits is “at least” $1 billion. How can this happen? There are a few reasons. For one, consumers may be unaware of their beneficiary status. Policy owners may have poor record keeping. Insurance companies recently got themselves into trouble by failing to be more proactive in seeking out beneficiaries once policyholders died.

Life Insurance Ownership and Marriage Rates

Comparing data from the U.S Census and the American Council of Life Insurers Factbook, Bankrate found that states with a higher marriage rate generally had a lower life insurance ratio and vice versa. As the article postulates, this could be because the states with the highest marriage rates also have the youngest median ages for marriage, and life insurance may not be a priority for young newlyweds. Southern states had high policies-to-population ratios, with Alabama topping the list for life insurance ownership.

Complimentary Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – Overcoming Life Insurance Objections

Marketing Corner – Thursday August 24, 2017

Overcoming Life Insurance Objections

Even with a greater amount of consumer education than in previous decades, selling is still an important aspect of connecting prospects to an appropriate insurance solution. A big part of selling is dealing with objections. Here are five common life insurance objections you’ll likely face from consumers and what you can say to overcome these objections.

“Life Insurance is too expensive!”

This is probably the most common objection you’ll hear from consumers. It’s true that life insurance premiums can initially be jarring, but remember that expensive is a relative term. Plus, consumers often overestimate the cost of insurance. Last year’s Insurance Barometer Study found that the median estimated yearly cost for a 250,000 term policy for a 30-year-old non-smoker was more than double the actual cost.

• “When was the last time you looked at insurance prices?”

• “Did you know that most people overestimate the cost of life insurance?”

• “Did you know premiums increase with age, you’re never going to be any younger than you are today.”

• “Most people don’t get healthier as they age.”

• “We don’t really know what the price of insurance is because it’s set based on underwriting. So let’s get you medically underwritten and then we can talk about what the actual numbers will be.”

“I don’t qualify because of health issues.”

This objection arises because consumers are aware that many life insurance policies require medical underwriting. But like other aspects of life insurance, they may have misconceptions on how this process works or impacts their options.

• “Did you know there are certain types of insurance that are guaranteed issue?”

• “Just about anybody can qualify for a life insurance policy—there are many different types that account for many different situations.”

• “Consumer may have misconceptions about the underwriting process, what is prompting you to say that?”

“I have money saved up.”

It’s possible that a consumer feels that they have enough money accumulated through savings and other assets that they don’t need life insurance. Maybe once they give you a peek at their financials they do—but this presents an opportunity to discuss efficient wealth transfer and estate planning options. If they don’t, explain what the average cost of retirement is. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the average household will use nearly 41,000 per year in retirement. So if a household retires at 65 and expects to live another twenty years, the retirement amount used for this time period will be $820,000. Converting a large sum of savings into a cash value life insurance policy can help clients achieve a robust source of retirement income on top of a death benefit.

• “Are you aware that you can use life insurance to transfer wealth in a more tax-efficient manner? This can be true if you want to endow a charity or transfer to family members.”

• “Most of the time when someone tells me that it is based on a specific set of assumptions for the future, are you sure your savings are sufficient?”

• “Given what we know about life expectancies and inflation, are you confident that your savings of _______ will give you the retirement you desire?”

“I already have life insurance.”

This should be an easy objection to overcome. If a consumer already has a policy, find out when they purchased it, what type it is, and if they have been any significant life events. A good financial plan, whether it involves a life insurance product or other solution, should be reviewed periodically to make sure it still matches the consumer’s needs and objectives, and to see if there are other opportunities.

• “When was the last time you had a policy review?”

• “What life changes have happened since it was purchased?

• “How do you know that your policy still meets your needs?”

• “Would you invest $10,000 in the stock market and never look at it again?”

Complimentary Life Insurance Awareness Month Sales Kit

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – 5 Marketing Resources You May Not Know You Already Have

Marketing Corner – Thursday August 10th, 2017

5 Marketing Resources You May Not Know You Already Have

A good advisor is always on the hunt for new clients and marketing opportunities. And it can seem like every day there is some new program to try—fintech, exclusive lead gen funnels, alternative marketing concepts, etc. While many of these can prove to be effective for the needs of your practice, some can involve significant time and money. However, there are a few resources you already have that can be leveraged. Things such as…

Prospect Lists

Over the course of building your practice, you likely have a warm prospect list. These are the consumers that you’ve had some level of contact with, but haven’t had a chance to convert. You can take this list of consumers and build a drip pipeline with contact specifically tailored to them. You may not convert prospects right away, but this gives you a marketing channel that can basically run in the background, while you focus on other activities. It may require a bit of organization, effort, and thought to properly establish a prospect marketing channel, but once you have it done you now have another funnel that you can build on with little work. Already have something like this? Take a look at your list, evaluate its success, and see if it needs to be refreshed with new contacts.

Current Clients

Advisors know that current clients can generate other planning opportunities, but how many actually leverage their current book of business? This is why low-effort marketing activity—such as holiday and birthday messages—throughout the year is helpful to keep you in front of consumers. But also consider the impact of the annual review. Financial professionals often tell consumers how important periodic reviews of financial plans are, but focus their attention on new clients. Keep your current book engaged with messages throughout the year and send anniversary reminders to draw up review opportunities.

For Example:

Congratulations [CLIENT NAME],

Your Financial Plan is one year old today!

A lot can happen in a year. New jobs. Marriage. New child.

As part of our dedicated service to you, we would like to schedule an annual financial check-up to make sure everything is still on track to meet your objectives. Give us a call at XXX-XXX-XXXX and let’s get something on the books.

Thank you, 

[Your Name]

Better yet, you could establish the annual review at the initial appointment and then send reminders as the date approaches.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great resource for professionals like financial advisors. More formal than Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn presents itself as the social network for professional connections. Obviously, one way to use LinkedIn for marketing is to syndicate content and participate in relevant groups. But there is another way to leverage LinkedIn for your business: exporting your growing list of connections. Contact us for help with this process. You can add this list to your base email marketing campaigns or drop them into a unique distro.

Carrier Marketing Material

Most carriers will have a small library of material available through their agent portals. These pieces may be producer guides about specific products, but there will likely be general, high-level concept information that can be used for a variety of purposes. These concept documents can be re-shaped and used as items in your e-marketing channels or given directly to consumers at appointments. Stay away from pieces that are too sales-y and product heavy. Instead focus more on basic information (retirement basics, life insurance overview, etc.) Include a branded letter from you that explains what the consumer is receiving.

For example:

[LOGO/LETTERHEAD]

Dear [CONSUMER NAME],

I am giving you this piece from one of the insurance carriers I work with. Based on what we discussed in our appointment, you might benefit from this high-level overview of retirement planning. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’ll reach out to you soon.

Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

Yourself

The biggest resource in your firm is not a new lead-gen program, sophisticated quoting software, or high-quality deliverables (although these are important). No, the biggest resource your business has is yourself. If you work in the business planning realm, you are familiar with this concept. Consider how you are or aren’t leveraging your experience, knowledge, and expertise. Do you have a specific approach or specialized knowledge than not only would appeal to your target base, but also distinguish you from your competitors?

If so, how can you highlight this? Here are a few ways to do so:

  • Clearly identify designations, specialties, and experience in bios (don’t brag, but be proud)
  • Build your brand around the specialty or area of focus

Create marketing collateral based on your approaches, experience, and specialties. The cost of this might be the time it takes to write it down and maybe some printing

Complimentary Life Insurance Awareness Month Kit for 2017

Fill out the form below to receive
your complimentary copy.

Marketing Corner – Why Consumers Still Need Human Advisors

Marketing Corner – Thursday July 27th, 2017

Why consumers still need human advisors

It’s 2017. We summon rides a with a smartphone app. We stream music from endless libraries, rather than inserting a CD or cassette. We have companies send us boxed meals based on our personalities. And, in some areas, we can get kitty litter drone-delivered to our house in under two hours. The point is technology has been integrated into our lives in both big and small ways.

This is even true for financial services. With the rise of robo-advisors—that catch-all term for automated or largely automated financial service providers—some advisors fear they may be out of the business, the same way taxi-drivers see Uber pushing them out.

Should advisors fear the rise of the machines? A report from Business Insider last year argued that there is a global $2 Trillion opportunity for robo-advisors and that this may be achieved by 2020. Seemingly, for agencies that employ robo-advisors, the marketshare is there for taking.

For carriers and companies, robo-advisors offer an efficient way to provide services with low overhead. For consumers, the benefits of using a robo-advisor may be lower fees, active participation, and control. So does this mean that advisors will be the next profession to be outmoded by technology? Not exactly.

As reported in AdvisorNews a pilot Direct to Consumer (D2C) program run by Nationwide in Arizona received low closing ratios, especially on the weekends when, rather than speaking to a live voice, consumers were routed through an online platform. According to Eric Henderson, senior VP or Life Insurance and Annuities at Nationwide, “people still want to talk to somebody.”

While Nationwide will continue to employ technology to keep the consumers on the pilot program’s website, it remains to be seen how these Direct to Consumer channels will fare out. But what then, is the value of an intermediary like a financial advisor if a financial company can advertise direct to consumers and consumers can seek out robo-advisors for their financial planning needs?

By and large, consumers will still seek out a knowledgeable live professional. A recent Gallup poll found that U.S. investors greatly preferred a personal advisor. This doesn’t mean that certain consumer segments (like say Millennials) won’t seek out fintech solutions. But advisors provide things that algorithms can’t. For example:

Holistic Approaches – a single financial solution typically doesn’t make for a complete retirement plan. Many things need to weighed and evaluated. Advisors can show a consumer’s financial plan at both micro and macro levels.

Relationship and Trust – It is hard to build long-lasting relationships with an application (Facebook and Twitter notwithstanding). We use technology in many different ways, but when it comes to money and building toward the future, a consumer is likely to seek out a human professional that can earn their trust, versus an efficient piece of software.

Education – Not only can an advisor provide detailed financial solutions, they can break things down in a variety of ways, educating their client throughout the process. An advisor can adjust his or her language to meet the financial literacy of the consumer and tie solutions to the larger picture.

Of course, the best approach is not to reject technology outright. Technology has already changed the way financial services are conducted. Think about all the producer portals, illustration software, and retirement analyzer programs you use in your day-to-day business. It’s possible to use technology to enhance the human value you provide with out replacing it. If you want to stand out and retain more clients as tech continues to evolve how business is done, focus on the human element of your services, keeping one foot in the digital realm and one foot in traditional practices.

Fill out the form below to learn more