Making a Difference for Clients

How do retirement plan advisers add value for clients and grow their business?

Edward Forst, president and CEO of Lincoln Investment Planning in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, told attendees of the National Tax-Sheltered Accounts Association (NTSAA) 2013 403(b) Summit that the rate of change in the industry is fast. For example, will 12b-1 fees or commissions be allowed within 10 years? Plan advisers should focus on the things they get paid for by clients. 

Forst said small things, like starting a new conversation, adding Social Security education, or long-term care planning can grow an adviser’s business. “Don’t get stuck because things are so successful now,” he warned.

Jerry Adzima, with Reliant Financial Services in Chesterfield, Missouri, said one practice that helped him the most was setting goals for clients—for what they get from him and what they get from meetings and reviews. “Advisers need to have a systematic, repeatable process, and give clients an outline of that process,” he said.

Admiza suggests advisers set an agenda for each meeting at the end of the prior meeting and send the agenda ahead to the client for review and changes. The meetings should address the risks and threats to the client’s retirement plan, identify new trends, and address whether the plan needs to be changed. Advisers should set expectations for clients, explain what expectations are realistic and review whether the client is on track to meet these expectations.

Virginia T. Harriett, a certified financial planner with Lincoln Investment Planning in Marlton, New Jersey, said focusing on life stages is what she used to differentiate and grow her business. She uses a quiz to find out what life activities plan participants or individual clients are dealing with, then sets an agenda for several meetings. “Clients, especially women, want an adviser who connects with them and knows what they want,” she said.

Harriett added that it is important to find good financial planning software. “Show potential clients the capabilities you have,” she advised.