Retirement Planning
Webinar on demand: Successful retirement planning for today’s modern midlife

CE credit: 1 hr., CFP and CIMA



Will McKenna: Hello, and welcome to the PracticeLab Webinar Series. I'm your host, Will McKenna. I want to thank everybody for joining us today. Great to have you with us. Our topic today is successful retirement planning for today's modern midlife. And boy, does this feel like the perfect time to be having this conversation given all the volatility in the markets and the nervousness that I expect many of your clients may be experiencing. So, our goal over the next hour is to show you how you can help your clients plan for their best retirement, especially during turbulent times such as these, and how that can help you grow your business.

Will McKenna: We got two great speakers, Leah Ryan and Leslie Geller, to help us break it all down today. Now, before I introduce them, let me cover a couple of housekeeping details. If you look in the additional resources section of your webinar player, you're going to find everything you need for this event, including the slides, CE credit quiz, a bunch of really useful articles, and probably, most importantly, the client retirement workbook that we're going to be covering in depth on this call. And we'll come back to this. Go ahead and open those links now, so you have access to them during the call. Also, we love getting your questions and comments throughout the event. Keep them coming. We'll try to answer as many as we can. And if you do have any technical problems, let us know in that same Q&A window.

Will McKenna: So with that, let me introduce our speakers. Leah Ryan is an advisor practice management consultant in Capital Group. She has more than 20 years industry experience and joined us last year. Happy to have you, Leah. Prior to that, she was a national speaker for AIG, covering Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. And before that, she held a similar role for Jackson National. She got her bachelor's degree in international business from the University of Georgia. Now, I have to take a minute here. I love that you were in the great state of Georgia. I too, I grew up there. My sister lives in Athens, which is where the university is. Been to many, many games between the hedges at Sanford Stadium. Shoutout to all of our friends there, including Brooks Arnold, Gary Hudson and others that we know there.

Will McKenna: Leslie Geller is a wealth strategist at Capital Group. She has 14 years’ industry experience. Been with us for the past two years. Before joining Capital, Leslie was a tax and estate lawyer at some prominent LA law firms. And she indeed admits to being a self-proclaimed tax nerd. So you may see that come through on this event today. She received her master's in taxation from NYU School of Law, her law degree from Boston College and a bachelor's from Washington and Lee University. Leslie, you think you got enough schooling in? No, it's good to have you here with us. Leah and Leslie, welcome. Great to have both of you.

Will McKenna: And I want to go ahead and jump right in. We have a lot to cover, and Leah, I want to start with you. You know, our research has shown some surprising facts about how clients experience retirement. And one really key point is that there can be a bit of a disconnect in the way that advisors approach retirement planning and what clients are actually looking for. So why don't you start us off? What's your perspective on retirement planning? It’s so important.

Leah Ryan: Yes, Will. Thank you. And you're absolutely right. Our research at Capital Group taught us that most retirees think of retirement in terms of lifestyle first and foremost, and the financial part second. But of course we, as financial professionals here in the industry, we think of retirement planning sometimes as about being about the numbers. You know, your client is sitting there in your office, and they're talking about how they're going to spend more time with the grandkids. All these great adventures they’re going to have. And of course you, as the financial advisor, are thinking, "How am I going to make this happen? How am I going to make sure they've got a comfortable retirement that's going to last them for as long as they live?"

Leah Ryan: We share retirement financial strategies that help us explain what they should consider doing with their money, but the whole time they're sitting there thinking about, "Gosh, how should I be spending my time? Not necessarily my money." And I think you've got the quote there from Frank and our focus group that was wonderful. That really hit home with me, that people, you know, they're not looking for a comfortable retirement. They want a fulfilling retirement. And they want you to help them achieve it. But it can be an unpredictable journey. You know, some of your clients may find themselves suddenly single or wanting to go back to work.

Leah Ryan: As a matter of fact, as you see on the screen, over 25% of people that were surveyed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute said that life in retirement was not in line with what they expected. They want somebody to proactively help them think through critical and complex life decisions for them and their families as they're approaching retirement and will throughout it. And Will, one last point I want to make on this about what our research showed us is that retirement oftentimes is a time where people are rethinking relationships and replacing relationships. It could be their friends, their neighbors, their health care professionals, and even financial advisors.

Leah Ryan: There was a great, great quote we got from one of our focus groups from a gentleman that said, "As I've gotten older, I've become less interested in relationships that don't feel good. And I mean, every relationship." So we want to make sure that we're all adding value to clients throughout their retirement, or we run the risk of being the ones replaced as well.

Will McKenna: Right. Very interesting. And I know when we surveyed advisors in our last webinar, we saw them kind of splitting into two camps when it comes to serving clients. Tell us how this relates to what you're seeing out in the field. And then, I know we'll hear from Leslie on this topic as well. I know … by the way, thank you, Brian, for your comment in the comment section, "Go dogs." Well, I agree, but Leah, back to you, what are you seeing out there in the field?

Leah Ryan: Yes, absolutely. I'm so glad that we asked this question because there's definitely two camps of financial advisors, whereas we found 75% feel very comfortable talking about those nonfinancial aspects of retirement planning. And it's something that they do, and they do it really well. They're just naturally very empathetic. They're great listeners. But the drawback we hear from this group of financial advisors is that their appointments can take a really long time, sometimes two to three hours to get through them, which can be an efficiency issue. And we'll talk about that in a few minutes, how we might be able to help solve that.

Leah Ryan: The other camp of financial advisors are not exactly sure how to incorporate these conversations into their process. They're not quite sure how to get started or how deep and personal they want to get. So what we're going to do today is show everyone a way you can efficiently incorporate some of these conversations into your meetings, in your processes, and you're going to see the difference it will make immediately to your clients in terms of associating you with a successful and a fulfilling retirement. I think it's also going to help you build out a more robust financial plan, because you're going to have a fuller picture of the client's vision for their retirement.

Leslie Geller: And Leah, I'm so glad you mentioned that because in my conversations with advisors, this has emerged as one of their most favorite ways to engage with clients and also to fact-find. To help with investment decisions, to help with planning conversations. It's such an organic way to build your client expertise. It's easy for the client. They like talking about themselves. They like talking about their families. There's no expertise required. And just to share a quick little anecdote, I was at a conference this past weekend, and we did a very technical planning workshop. At least it was intended to be this very technical planning workshop on all matters of tax and estate planning, income tax planning.

Leslie Geller: And what I took away was that those big light bulb moments for the advisors that I was talking to were not the technical strategies that I highlighted. It was those big take-a-step-back moments. Not losing the forest for the trees. Understanding what matters most to the client instead of letting that tax tail wag the planning dog. It was a real moment of, like, light bulbs because they realized there's no real expertise required for engaging in some of these very, very meaningful and impactful conversations.

Will McKenna: I love that phrase and I, I'm going to use that. Thank you, Leslie. Don't let the tax tail wag the planning dog. Tell us more about this, Leslie. You know, what does it take to do this well, and what have you seen that really works out there?

Leslie Geller: Yeah, there's a few phrases I love to bring up when I'm talking to advisors about this. I think this is the first key to success in retirement: It's be the client expert. This is what the advisor is so great at, right? There's a lot of experts involved in the planning process. From estate planning lawyers, to tax professionals, to other types of attorneys, other types of specialists. But what the advisor has over all of those other experts involved is their expertise around who the client is: what matters most to them, what their family looks like, what their business looks like. Your job as the client expert is to stay on top of the client's evolving lifestyle, their evolving retirement, and helping convey that to the other experts involved in the client's planning process.

Leah Ryan: Yes, Leslie, I, I totally agree. You know, we find that it's just very rare that the other business professionals that your clients may be working with, the CPA, the attorney, they just don't have that full picture of the client's financial, social, health and legacy goals. The clients really depend on the financial advisor to just bring it all together.

Leslie Geller: And it's interesting because attorneys, tax professionals, because of the billable hour, they have a very transactional relationship with their clients. They're not the ones staying on top of the client's evolving business life, right, their evolving family dynamics, because they won't do work for that, they can't charge for. And this is a real value-add opportunity for the advisor, to help those other professionals stay on top of what matters most to the client. And I think that brings up that second factor up here: Be your client's advocate or ally. That is a really key role.

Leslie Geller: And I said a huge potential for value add. I mentioned earlier, you don't have to be the expert. The best way I like to frame it is the advisor's role as the issue spotter. Know enough to know what matters most to the client at this very moment, whether it's gifting, wealth transfer issues, or state income tax mitigation or retirement planning. Knowing enough, you don't have to be the expert, but knowing enough to know when to bring up the right planning conversations is going to keep the client engaged. It's that hook that gets them involved in the planning process. And as we said, it also helps the other experts involved in the planning process.

Leslie Geller: One really key place I see this come up, this advisor's role as the advocate or ally, is especially with women or nonprimary spouses. So those who haven't been involved, maybe, in the financial planning from the beginning, as deeply involved as their spouse. Helping those nonprimary spouses ask the right questions that they may not even know are salient questions is a great way to show your support, to keep those relationships stickier. So asking good questions provides just as much value as knowing the answer yourself.

Leah Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Leslie, I know a lot of the top financial advisor teams and advisors that I work with, they've got that great list of third-party experts that they can lean to and point the client in their direction. You know, we want to be able to be an expert on everything that touches their lives, but we just can't. And I know the clients really appreciate having those resources.

Leslie Geller: Yeah. And you know, your clients are different and I think you made an important point there, Leah. Your clients are different. You've all different types of clients that fall in all different demographics. And so it's important to have experts that match those demographics, right? So some clients might prefer a woman attorney. Some clients might prefer somebody who's older. There's also different needs. Whether it's a special needs attorney or a very sophisticated estate planning attorney for your ultra high net worth clients.

Leslie Geller: There's a real opportunity to provide immense value just by making that connection. So we have that third factor up there: Broaden your relationships. And this applies not only to your COI network, but also broadening those relationships as it pertains to the client and their world. So making those organic connections to the other people in their life. Who are their business partners? Who are the most important members of their family? Is it a spouse? Is it grandchildren? Is it other individuals? Charitable organizations?

Leslie Geller: Any relationship that matters to the client is going to be important for you to get involved in to some degree. It's a great way, actually, to organically build your business. This is how I built my law practice back when I practiced law. I never did much prospecting because I got all my clients through my current clients. So I would work with a client who had parents or grandparents that would ask questions about their planning, and they would become my clients. Same with business partners. It's the easiest...

Leslie Geller: It's the easiest and most efficient way to grow your business. To do a really good job for the client in front of you and build those organic relationships with the other family members, the other people in the client's life that matter to that client in front of you.

Leah Ryan: Yes. Leslie, you know, that's a great idea. And it, it just reminded me of something. I live here in Colorado, and a big topic around our neighborhood is that the homeowners insurance rates have just gone through the roof. They've skyrocketed. That seems to be the topic of conversation around here. And I was just thinking how my financial advisor really pressed me to get in touch with their property and casualty insurance person that they had a lot of confidence in. And, you know, I'm absolutely going to be sharing that name with my neighbors, and they were going to find out that I got that from my financial advisor.

Leah Ryan: And really it's really done me a big favor too, because I can do a trade out with money. I'm going to take that money I was sitting in the insurance company and put it into my own retirement planning for the future. You know, to me, I felt like that was just above and beyond the day-to-day activities that a financial advisor regularly does. That made a big difference to my life and, as you said, it's going to broaden the referrals I'm going to be able to give to that advisor.

Leslie Geller: And then I think the fourth factor here, you just basically hit on it, is this idea of being genuine and authentic. Going about your life and taking those kernels of value and applying them to your own practice, whether it's property and casualty insurers, homeowners insurers. We're having that problem here in Southern California as well because of the fire risk or just other interests. Engaging with those clients that have similar interests but being genuinely interested and asking good questions is the best way to fact-find, the most organic way to build your business and get involved in those relationships that matter to the client.

Leah Ryan: Yes, I, I agree just by being genuine and authentic, it goes so far. You know, it shows the clients that you care more about their financial future than probably anybody outside of their family. That's so much more important than having all the answers — you just providing suggestions, guiding them to other resources and sharing that they're not alone in that journey. Maybe sharing stories of other clients or maybe even your own personal family members that are facing similar hurdles. Just being there to listen can make a really big difference.

Will McKenna: That's awesome. I love hearing you guys walk through those four elements. Great beginning, great framing of why this is important. And now I think we want to pivot and get into the nuts and bolts of how. If that was the why, this is going to be about the how. How do you implement this? How can you engage your clients in this? And again, if you haven't gotten out your My Best Retirement client workbook, please do so, because we're going to go through this in depth.

Will McKenna: Before we jump into that, let me just quickly poll the audience on this upfront, which is around this idea of we have four pieces of this retirement planning framework, which are life-planning, health and wellness, values and legacy, and financial planning, that are right here on page 3 of the workbook. Let us know in the comment section, when you look at these four parts of retirement planning, which one area do you feel you need the most improvement and why? So let us know, and we'll dig into that as we go through this. But let me go ahead and pass it to you, Leah. Why don't you kick us off? And let's get into this workbook.

Leah Ryan: Yes. And absolutely, so fantastic workbook. I've got my copy. I've actually gone in and filled out a lot of it, but I want to take a moment before we jump in to the details to take a look at the framework. You know, in our research, we found there's really four key dimensions when planning for a fulfilling retirement. And Will, you already mentioned on the social or life planning, and frankly that's my favorite subject, right? That's all about the adventures that they're going to have that are ahead. Health and wellness, values and legacy, and of course financial planning is at the core of our business. So clients want help with their financial planning, but they also want help with their life planning too. And in this workbook is an easy and efficient way to help have those conversations. Now, there's some tough questions in here. And frankly, the clients aren't going to be ready to fill them out at your office, and you don't have time to sit there with them and help them fill them out. It would just take too much time.

Leah Ryan: So what we suggest is to hand the workbook to your clients, your prospects, or email it to them and ask them to fill it out and bring it with them to their next meeting. Now, if it's a couple, we suggest making sure they fill it out separately, but come back together as a couple and talk through the answers so there's no big surprises. And I promise you that this will be some very interesting dinner conversation for the both of them too. Now a, a best practice we've learned is to go ahead and schedule that in-person meeting to go over the workbook pretty quickly after you've given it to them, because we don't want them to forget. And going through this workbook will help you in prioritizing their goals for retirement, understanding their vision, and also help you get in front of any issues that may present themselves in the future.

Leah Ryan: Just as an example, let's say you're going through this book with them, and it becomes apparent that they're seriously considering moving out of state. They want to be some place where it's warmer or where their grandkids are. This is an opportunity for you to go ahead and share how you work with clients that are out of state and put their minds at ease. You know, I spent a decade as an external wholesaler in the state of Florida and worked with hundreds of financial advisors there. And as you can imagine, most of their clients were people that had relocated to the state of Florida. They had a financial advisor, but they felt like they needed to align themselves with somebody that was closer, a new financial advisor that was geographically close to them. So don't miss this opportunity to take the mystery out of how you work with your relationships that are out of state. Great time to get ahead of some issues that may come up in the future.

Leah Ryan: Now, as we dig in, let's look into some of the questions in this framework and start at page 3. Now, on page 3, these are some basic questions, but they are really big questions for the clients to really think through. The first one is, what provides me with the most meaning in my life? What do I want more of? And the second question really caught me, which obligations are the least fulfilling in my life today? Well, now, what do I want to have less of? This is a great opportunity for the clients to get really clear about their vision as they start this journaling process.

Will McKenna: That's fantastic. You know, I think, and that reflects the quote you shared with us at the beginning, Leah. I want to do this, first of all, thanks for all the comments. Boy, we saw a lot of people saying health, health and wellness, was probably the dominant answer followed by legacy …

Leah Ryan: Hmm.

Will McKenna: ... and a couple of social. Nobody said financial planning. Not a surprise to me, because we've got a bunch of financial planning experts on this call. A couple of you asked where can you find this? There's a link right in your webinar player, and of course this is on PracticeLab. And you can, I'll tell you how to order copies there too. And somebody asked, Bruce, "Can you make a fillable PDF?” I believe it is a fillable PDF when you get it on PracticeLab. Melissa Phipps, my colleague, please confirm for me in the chat that that's true. Let's dig in, if you'd start by turning to page 4, this is about life planning. And I think, Leah, I'm going to come back to you and let you take us through this.

Leah Ryan: Yes, as I said before, this is really my favorite part of the conversation. What do they see their future looking like? But you want them to really dig in and become intentional about how they want to spend their time and what type of people they want to spend it with. And I know those are big questions, so you'll see on page 4, we've given them a lot of opportunity to just fill in the blank, put a check mark. We've given them some ideas about what traits and characteristics those people are that they might want to spend some time with. Have them go in and actually write down their answers. What's important to them about the people that they're going to be with? Do they want them to be active? Do they want them to be spiritual? Like to go to parties? That would be one of mine. Is it important that they have similar political views or values align with theirs?

Leah Ryan: And then the next page is the empty calendar, because that's what they may be waking up to after retirement. And this can be disconcerting. So what do they want to do? Are there some big trips they want to take, and when would be the ideal time? Go ahead and start penciling these in and build out what that first 12 months of your retirement's going to look like, and then drill down, become even more granular. What are the days going to be filled with? Is every day going to be a Saturday with golf and pickle ball or reading a great book or maybe becoming an active member of some sort of club or charitable organization? So we typically see in our research two types of retirees: those who are not quite sure what they're going to do with their time, and then the other ones that say, "I don't know how I ever had time to work. I am so busy."

Leah Ryan: But are they really busy doing things that they want to do and spending time with people that they want to be with, or did they just get roped into the first club that was offered to them? A quick story that really hit home for me was a financial advisor that was telling me that their clients, about five years ago, moved to Florida to a 55-year and older community, and everybody in the community was new, was just getting built out, and they loved it. They made a lot of new friends and acquaintances. There were activities all the time, clubs to join. And then a few years later, guess what? They decided they needed to move (laughs), because it was just too much. They had simply connected with the first people that they met, you know, just joined the events and activities that they were invited to. And that really wasn't how they wanted to spend their time, and they felt like they were turning into obligations.

Leah Ryan: So going through this process before that probably would've put them in a better position to pick and choose where they wanted to spend their time, so they didn't feel like they needed to move to change their environment. And of course, fortunately, the real estate market has supported this. Otherwise, they might be stuck. So help your clients get really intentional about where they want to spend their time and who they want to spend their time with.

Will McKenna: It's a great start. And obviously though, Leah, Saturdays in the fall will be tailgating at University of Georgia football games and then … taking it from there, Leslie, let's bring you in. And can you expand on this idea you brought up earlier: being a client ally and working around developing your network of connections that can help those clients. Walk us through how advisors can do this.

Leslie Geller: Yeah. So, life planning, especially for those clients who maybe don't quite know how they want to spend their retirement, a great way to get at those conversations is through discussing relationships, right? Clients are often a lot more willing to talk about the people in their lives as opposed to directly addressing how they want to spend their time. So talking about those relationships, understanding who matters to them most in their lives, the types of relationships they have, what they like to do with the different people in their lives, is a really great way to help them solidify their plans, to help them fill out this workbook. The other piece, and we coined this phrase as we were preparing for this webinar, which I really love is, you can help the client turn their passions into plans, right? It's a little bit of a backdoor way to fill out the questions in this book. Understand what they love to do, what gets them going.

Leslie Geller: For some people, it's travel. For some people, it's certain athletic endeavors, marathon running, triathlons, fishing. For some people, it's charitable giving. But it's not the same for everybody. And sometimes I see advisors apply this one-size-fits-all approach to clients in trying to engage them. One really concrete example I see a lot is the idea of charitable giving, especially in the high net worth space. So trying to use charitable giving as a way to help the clients stay busy during their retirement, help wealth transition down generations. That works for some families, but it doesn't work for all families if there's no interest, if it's going to create conflict, right? If that's not, that's not the conversation to have. Maybe it's travel, maybe it's paying for education, but it's not charitable giving for everyone. The other way to use your network to bring these clients into these conversations and help them answer these questions in this great workbook is by connecting them to those retirement-specific resources.

Leslie Geller: We have a few up here on the left, or up in the left in the book, and then up here on the screen, there's a few online resources, “Retirement jobs” that connects or supports career interests of those who are over 50. “Encore,” connects retirees to younger people...

Leslie Geller: “Encore,” connects retirees to younger people around philanthropy, a great way again to focus on those relationships, as well as charitable giving for clients that are interested in that. “Aging in Place” may be for those older retirees who are looking to stay in their home for as long as they can. That connects them to resources to help them do that. So it's all about your read of what matters most to the client. And then as you do this, as you make these deeper connections with the retirees, you are going to organically come up with more resources that are local to your area, that are specific to certain interests. So it's just going to grow exponentially, your offerings, your ability to support this specific type of client or prospect.

Will McKenna: That's great. And I love some of these ideas. Road Scholar, the adventure travel company for retirees, is some great stuff in there. If you can become the kind of the quarterback to help them connect with those services. Let's pivot now to health and wellness, because I know that came up probably as the number one area people wanted to focus on. And this is obviously, you know, an area you all on the call are not health experts, you're not health practitioners, but there are ways you can help clients build a healthier life. Leah, why don't you take us away into this area?

Leah Ryan: Yes. You know, your early retirees, they're typically interested in living life to the fullest, and they really want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That is top and foremost on their list. Or at least, if they don't, their spouse wants them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And you'll see on page 6 of the workbook, it touches on many ideas that we all associate with staying healthy. We call this the EVP (energy, vitality and passion). And, Will, to your point, we're not health experts, and we're not there to sit there and tell the client you need to eat whole foods that aren't processed. But they're there for them and their spouse to talk through and hopefully come into some agreement between the two of them of how they want to maintain their healthy lifestyle.

Leah Ryan: And it also gets into the nuts and bolts as well, right? Where are they going to get their health care insurance if they retired prior to 65? What Medicare supplements are of interest to them? Do they have an HSA? And when are the appropriate times to use those funds? Now, as Leslie said earlier, you don't have to have the answers to all of these questions. You don't have to be the Medicare supplement expert. You know, I'm sure all of you know quite a bit about it, but then bring in that third-party resource that can help your client get the answers that they need and the information that's important to them that specialize in these different areas.

Leslie Geller: And a big part of health and wellness, and I think we saw this play out a lot over the last two and a half years, is peace of mind. We've all seen how stress and uncertainty can really take a toll from a physical perspective. So as Leah pointed out, as Will pointed out, we are not health experts, but there are things that we can do to support peace of mind and a healthy lifestyle. And one of the big ones is just encouraging communication and transparency among family members and ensure that everyone is prepared for those inevitable life transitions that are going to happen and that the proper documentation is in place to support those life transitions. So everything from a financial power of attorney to a health care directive, right? All of which will operate if somebody becomes incapacitated, who is the agent going to be?

Leslie Geller: Having all of those things in place is going to give the client peace of mind so they can spend time worrying about those other aspects of health and wellness that also matter aside from this peace of mind. And I've mentioned this a few times throughout, but I also think being able to support relationships, being able to support those healthy engagements and continuing engagements with your client, whether it's helping them connect with family members they haven't connected with in a long time, helping them make connections or build relationships with people who have similar interests. We've seen, I think, how isolation has taken a toll over the last couple of years, especially on older folks. And so you can provide real value by just providing the infrastructure, providing that support to help them build new relationships and continue to foster the ones that they already have.

Leah Ryan: Leslie, that is so important. And I think you touched on something that we should bring up as well. Don't be afraid to address or at least have resources for some of those tough issues out there, mental health, addiction issues. You know, there's no perfect families out there. And a lot of people need some resources in this area too that you might just be able to have on your resource sheet, you know, to be able to offer should it be needed.

Will McKenna: Yeah, that's great. I, I wanted to say, you know, Leslie, I'm struck by this page we have on health and wellness, something you said earlier, you don't have to be the expert, you just have to ask good questions and not necessarily have all the answers. And this has some great prompts, some great questions in it. I think that can be very helpful in your engagements with clients. On the next page, we dig into values and, and legacy. I think that was our second most popular issue.

Will McKenna: Oh, let me make a correction. I know I said earlier, I thought there was a fillable PDF on this thing. My excitement got the better of me. Melissa, my colleague, tells that's not yet available. So Bruce and Michelle and others who are asking about that, maybe it's an indication we need to go ahead and create a fillable PDF for this. So thank you for that feedback. But let's jump in to legacy. And I think, Leah, why don't you start us off on this topic?

Leah Ryan: Yes. On the, on the legacy subject, we find that retirees, oftentimes we look at them in two different age brackets. Now, your early retirees, they're excited about spending money strategically, living life to the fullest. And as Leslie mentioned, they may not be ready to have conversations about charitable giving and those sorts of things. But your older retirees, I would say probably 75-ish plus years old, start thinking about legacy, and they welcome these conversations. And, of course, please start these conversations well before age 75, but this is where they might want to dig in further. And you're going to see in the workbook some questions that are more big picture, not just about who gets what and when. But how do they want to be remembered and what are some things that are left that they haven't accomplished yet that are really important to them? So you can focus on those things while they're alive.

Leah Ryan: And once you start having those conversations, when you start talking about transferring that wealth, especially to the next generation, you might hear some things like, “Gosh, I don't want my kids to fight over the inheritance,” or “I just want to make sure they make sound financial decisions with the money that I leave them.” And as I mentioned before, we know there's no perfect family, not all children have the same expertise, the same interest or the same capacity to be able to know what to do with this inheritance. So we find that financial advisors can play a really big role in this, and providing guidance for the next generation and opening up communications about this.

Leah Ryan: Now, if transparency is the goal for the clients, you might want to consider hosting and facilitating a family wealth briefing. You can do it in person, you can have it virtually now that people are more comfortable with technology, or perhaps it's a hybrid. You know, some people are there in person and some people are, are there virtually, where you're bringing together the clients, the beneficiaries, the charitable organization, the CPA, the attorney, maybe the real estate attorney needs to be there. And now, Leslie, I know you have coached hundreds of financial advisors on how to conduct these meetings, but what are your thoughts on this?

Leslie Geller: Yeah. So one thing we found is that there's a lot of content out there around how to host a family meeting. But there's a lot of advisors for whom the idea of hosting a family meeting is really intimidating, because our own family dynamics are complicated enough. Who wants to get involved in somebody else's? But the way we like to frame it is in terms of just being the facilitator, right? Helping be the infrastructure for the communication. And this is especially important with high net worth and ultra high net worth families.

Leslie Geller: And Leah, you brought up the term facilitator. I really think that is the most important term to walk away with here, especially as far as legacy is concerned, is assisting the communication among different generations. And we very deliberately talk about these family meetings not in terms of meeting, but in terms of a briefing. So a family wealth briefing. We think there's a lot less pressure in that term briefing. It implies communication. It implies transparency. It implies managing expectations, helping everybody prepare for those inevitable life transitions, as opposed to this idea of a family meeting, which has a little bit more import around it. And I think that's why it's a little bit more intimidating. This idea that we have to have a meeting of the minds, everybody has to be on the same page.

Leslie Geller: So the easiest way to think about these family wealth briefings is in terms of just ensuring that everybody has all of the information they need, or as much as the client is comfortable providing to the rest of the family around these life transitions. How will the assets flow? Who will be in charge? Who gets what? Who gets to make those decisions? Making sure that everyone is aware of what roles each family member plays and where everything ends up, that is the best place to start. And then from there, as all of that is communicated, what is important to that family — whether it's charitable giving, whether it's education, whether it's travel? That will emerge and become the next conversation or the next part of that family wealth briefing.

Will McKenna: Yeah, that's great. And I, too, the idea of a family meeting sounds scary to me too. So I like briefing better. Leslie, totally agree. Let me tell the audience, Leslie's article of that title — How to have a family wealth briefing — is on PracticeLab. It's one of our most popular articles. You can find it on PracticeLab, or just Google it. Highly, highly recommended.

Will McKenna: And let me just respond, Steven. I think Steven Pugh mentioned in the comments, “Do I have each person in a couple fill this out? They may have two ideas of their retirement.” Absolutely, 100%. You may have missed it earlier, but that's our recommendation. It's a great strategy to elicit those differences that might exist between a couple or anyone else in the family. And to have that as great seeds for conversation, and help deepen those relationships. So very, very good strategies, Steven, and anybody else on the call.

Will McKenna: OK. Let's get into everybody's favorite topic, which is financial planning. I think our folks feel pretty comfortable with this, and I might suggest, just for the sake of time, we touch on this first piece relatively quickly, and then get to the Social Security content that we have. But this is obviously very important. Leah, why don't you talk about some of the tactics that advisors can, can use to show value beyond investments here?

Leah Ryan: Yes, Will. And as you said, I know everybody here on this call is fantastic at the retirement planning element, but an idea that you might want to think about incorporating in your onboarding process or your reviews to set yourself up as that retirement planning expert is to conduct a lost retirement asset search. I'm going to say that one more time: a lost retirement asset search. And what we are hearing from the Center of Research at Boston College, they estimate that there are 24 million forgotten 401(k) accounts with over $1.3 trillion in them. So you or somebody on your team can easily go to a couple of sites, the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits, and also the National Association for Unclaimed Property Administrators, to help find those lost assets. And, and Will I did this myself. Look, it took less than 10 minutes. I'm sad to say I didn't have any unclaimed 401(k) assets.

Will McKenna: ( laughs).

Leah Ryan: Imagine how excited I would've been if I had, and if you're the financial advisor that brings that to their attention. You instantly increase their portfolio value.

Will McKenna: That's fantastic. I mean, I worked for several years in my 20s at Mercer Management Consulting. I know I have some benefits there. This was in the 90s. I have no idea how to track that down. So this... I'm going to do this after this call ends. You know, obviously one top and a very good tactical idea there. One idea of interest to everybody is just Social Security, and we've done a lot of work in this area; we have a lot of resources to help. Leah, how can the folks on this call take advantage of what we have for them around Social Security?

Leah Ryan: Yes, Will. You know, I have probably conducted 500 Social Security educational events on behalf of financial advisors. And I can tell you most Americans, they want to know how to get the maximum out of Social Security that they can. They've paid in most of their adult life, and they want to make sure they can get back as much as possible. So think about offering educational events around Social Security, not only for your clients and prospects, but also centers of influence. CPAs want to come to this, too. And we find that people that are 55 years old and older would like to attend. They have a lot of interest in this. And then if you, as an advisor, want to have new prospects and want to schedule appointments, offer to conduct a Social Security strategy session...

Leah Ryan: ... where they come in, and their spouse, and they sit down with you. And you find out, and you go through the calculator, what the best strategy is today for their desired results. And a lot of people are going to welcome this meeting, and it's going to allow you to showcase your knowledge and what it feels like to be a client. And I promise you, this is a fantastic way to bring new clients into the office, and also give the best possible service to your current clients.

Will McKenna: And by the way, I want to let everybody know, we have what I think is great presentation on Social Security that's custom-made for you right out of the box to take it, deliver it to clients and prospects. Look for it on PracticeLab, and we have some links in the additional resources. But also, talk to your Capital Group team, because I think they can help you get comfortable and confident in how to deliver that presentation and set up those events for your clients and prospects. Leslie, let's come back to you. Any other topics that advisors can leverage to connect around financial planning?

Leslie Geller: Yeah. I think one thing we've noticed, Will, in all of our conversations with advisors and investors, is that clients don't think in terms of clean planning buckets. They don't think in terms of income taxes, estate and gift taxes, investments. All of those things bleed together in terms of what they're most interested in or what the client is most worried about in the context of their own lives. So, having a conversation with a client around income taxes is not nearly as compelling or as interesting to a client as starting really specifically with the thing that the client is going to be most concerned about right now in terms of income taxes. So, are they most worried about state income taxes because they live in California or New York or Massachusetts? Are they most worried about diversifying out of a concentrated position?

Leslie Geller: Starting with a very specific concern that is going to be compelling to that client is a great way to start those financial planning conversations, as opposed to starting with the really big intimidating topics like income taxes as a whole, like estate taxes. I also think one really easy way to make this interesting to the client or to bring them in, draw them in really quickly, is by using current events. Using what’s going on with policy, with legislation, with new regulations. We’ve seen this over and over, over the last couple of years around the SECURE Act, right? Talk about a big retirement, legislative and regulatory change. That new 10-year rule which supplanted that stretch IRA, that has instigated so many retirement planning conversations over the last couple of years. The same with the threat and changes around tax policy. We haven’t seen any tax changes yet, but especially in the high net worth space, just the threat of changes has made it really easy to bring up some of these planning conversations.

Leslie Geller: And then I think, finally, the other thing that we see rise to the surface around financial planning is focusing on the easy things. A lot of advisors don't realize how easy it is to add value in the financial planning space. So, everything from ensuring that revocable trusts are properly funded, real estate is properly titled, beneficiary designations are updated, estate planning documents like trusts and wills are actually executed, right? Not just drafted. Doing those simple, easy things, a lot of time things that your admin can help with, right? Those are total home runs, really clear value adds from the advisor's perspective.

Will McKenna: You know, that's great. And that makes me think, I love this page. I think it's page 10. If folks can see that in the workbook that has this kind of cheat sheet of those milestones. And your point, people live their lives thinking about that and where they are and their age and so on. But, Leslie, doesn't this go back to your concept of be an issue-spotter.

Leslie Geller: Yep.

Will McKenna: You know, use these milestones as an opportunity to spot these issues and help them with those, some of those easy things. Let me do this again. You know, bunch of questions here. Leah, you really struck a chord with this. Hey, go find those lost assets. Free money could be yours. A lot of questions. What were those websites again? And I think they're in the slides that we have in your additional resources. But maybe say them again one more time, Leah.

Leah Ryan: Yes, absolutely, Will. So there's two. The first one is the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. I'll read that one more time: National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. The second one is National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Just as an aside there, let's say you have an account at a bank and you haven't had any interaction with that bank in five years. They're going to send that money to the state, and this is how you're going to be able to find it. So both of those are worthwhile.

Will McKenna: OK. Fantastic. And thank you for that. And again, I would encourage folks to make sure you're taking advantage of all those additional resources. There's a lot in there that I think can answer your questions. Also, your Capital Group team will be able to help follow up on this. I know we're kind of turning the corner toward the end of our event. Been a great discussion so far. I want to thank the audience for all the great engagement and comments that we're seeing. And what I might do is come to some of our closing discussion here. There's a great slide that looks at the additional questions that are here, essential questions to ask, here on page 11 in your workbook. And again, back to something, Leslie, you said, it's the questions that can help position you as that ally. Just a great list. My colleague, Melissa Phipps, put these together. Questions to ask that they can ask their HR department before retirement, questions to ask their advisor, meaning you all. (laughs) And obviously you can prepare to have those conversations. I want to go ahead and, and talk about some of the key takeaways that Leah and Leslie can share with us about how they see this workbook really playing a key role in being useful. So Leah, let's start with you and some of the use cases you like to think about.

Leah Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. You know, to use this workbook, I think is fantastic, number one, to get new clients. Hand this workbook out at Social Security events, other educational workshops. Provide it to your brand ambassadors, those clients of yours that give you quality referrals year after year. And those centers of influence, can you leave it in their lobby so that their clients can pick it up? That lets that perspective client know that you're more than about the dollars and cents of retirement. You are there to help them have a fulfilling retirement. And also, during reviews with current clients that are nowhere close to retirement age, is this something that they might want to give to their parents, to their family members, friends, or colleagues to help them get in the right mindset and hopefully come in and visit with you?

Leah Ryan: Secondly, make it part of your standard operating procedures for your current clients, those pre-retirees. So that way, you're more comfortable having those nonfinancial conversations. And if you already are comfortable, think about how much time this is going to save you, because they're not going to have to think through the answers while they're there in the office with you. They're just going to give it to you during a meeting. And you can have your team scan it into the CRM system so that everybody's on board on the team. They understand that client's vision. And lastly, I know you all have heard this many, many times before, but it's never too early to start talking about retirement planning with your clients. I had this happen a few years ago. I walked into a financial advisor's office, and she had this huge smile on her face. Her eyes were as big as saucers. She was so excited and I thought, well, I know she's not that excited to see me.

Leah Ryan: So I was like, "What's going on? What's happening?" And she said that she had just received a phone call from a gentleman with a multimillion-dollar portfolio that was about to retire and had heard that she helped people like him. And he was very complimentary about the financial advisor he already had, but didn't think that that financial advisor worked in the retirement planning space. And we all know that's probably not true. Here this financial advisor lost a perfectly happy client because of lack of communication. So, use this to get those retirement planning stories and conversation started as early as possible.

Will McKenna: Mm-hmm.

Leslie Geller: And then to add to that, don't forget that this is like estate planning documents, a bit of a living document. It can be updated. Your client's family situation, their retirement situation, it's going to evolve over time. And so checking back in on this periodically, making it part of your regular reviews is going to be not only essential, but really helpful in having these deeper financial planning conversations. And again, just like with estate planning documents, once you get the first round done, once you get the foundation established, you've walked through this with the client one time, it's just going to get easier to make the update. So the hard work is really at the beginning, both from your perspective and the client's, and that will just pay dividends down the line and your regular reviews going forward.

Will McKenna: Such a cool idea to keep this as a living document and return to it. It would probably be fun for your clients to go back and see, what did they initially put down five years ago or whatever it was, and how much their life has changed since then. Wow, what a great discussion. And I do want to leave you all on the call with two important calls to action as I see them. Just to summarize: First, please reach out to your Capital Group team. Talk to them about how they might help you go deeper on any of the topics we covered today. And then also, more broadly, how they can help you build your business and enhance your practice. There's probably more that they can help you with than you might realize. And secondly, we already talked about this a couple times, but please go to the PracticeLab site.

Will McKenna: There's a ton of resources there that can help you on retirement planning, many other topics, family wealth briefings. We just put out an advisor's guide to tax and estate planning that builds on a lot of Leslie's work. Tons of great stuff there. That's where you can also find and download this client workbook to keep in your files. But also, we allow you to order some really nicely printed copies that, professionally printed copies of this, so you don't have to print it on your office printer. And you can hand these out to clients at your various events.

Will McKenna: That's all the time we have today. Really thought this was great. I want to thank Leah and Leslie for all your great insights. I hope you and our audience enjoyed that and learned as much as I did during this call. I also want to thank our PracticeLab team. Angela Shah really helped develop this webinar; Melissa Phipps, who put this workbook together; Becky Chao, who leads that team; Agnes Alch, as well as our events team who make all this work. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Don't forget to take advantage of those additional resources. And thanks again. Enjoy the rest of your day.


Do you know how to help create your clients’ best retirement?

Retirement can be an exciting turning point. But only 24% of retirees say they are living the life they expected.

In this hands-on, how-to event, Practice Management Consultant Leah Ryan and Wealth Strategist Leslie Geller will equip you with an intuitive framework for client engagement that will demonstrate your distinctive value as a retirement specialist. They will share proven strategies, as well as pitfalls you should avoid, based on their decades of experience working with both advisors and retirees. 

Learn how you can be more effective in helping clients plan their best retirement while positioning yourself as a critical partner through this next stage of their lives.  

What you’ll get:

  • A four-step retirement planning framework with actionable ideas and an end-to-end client engagement roadmap 
  • Estate and charitable planning tips to support clients’ purpose and legacy goals
  • A retirement planning workbook to elevate your client conversations

Who can benefit: U.S.-based financial professionals interested in enhancing their value as retirement specialists to improve client loyalty and referrals as well as enhance prospecting. 

1Source: EBRI Spending in Retirement Survey, 2021.

Leslie Geller is a senior wealth strategist at Capital Group. She has 15 years of industry experience and has been with Capital Group since 2019. Prior to joining Capital Group, Leslie was a partner at Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP. She received an LLM in taxation from New York University School of Law, a juris doctor from Boston College Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University. Leslie is based in Los Angeles. 

Leah Ryan is an advisor practice management consultant at Capital Group, home of the American Funds. Prior to joining Capital Group in 2021, she was responsible for Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming and was a national speaker for AIG. Before that, she was a public speaker for Jackson National. She has a bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Georgia.

*CFP credit is available only for U.S.-based webinar registrants.

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Featured Speakers
Leslie Geller
Senior Wealth Strategist
Leah Ryan
Advisor Practice Management Consultant

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