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Facing Hard Truths: Clients Will Help Care for Their Parents

With a person turning age 65 every eight seconds, according to AARP, and 55 percent of Americans having no retirement savings whatsoever, chances are some clients are going to have to take on the emotional, physical, and financial task of caring for an aging parent.

Nobody wants to face this. We don’t want to think of our parents getting older and (shudder) even passing away and our parents probably don’t want to think about it either.

But Americans are living that reality. AARP reports that adult children contribute anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000 to care for parents, and the National Caregiver Alliance reports that 29 percent of Americans are providing care for an ill or disabled adult.

“It’s outrageously expensive,” said Nelda Mays, an Atlanta resident who cares for her 87-year-old father told NPR in a September episode of The Call-In about elder care.

During your clients’ later working years and perhaps a few years into their retirement, they may be caring for aging parents. With that in mind, these could be some helpful tips for clients:

If they’re looking for a facility, Brian Lee, director of Families for Better Care in Texas, said that clients should familiarize themselves with their state’s laws, rules, and regulations, in addition to federal laws that oversee the different care options. Lee told NPR listeners that nursing homes have the most protections. He also advised people to visit the facility, chat with the residents, have a meal there, and ensure both the facility and residents are clean and well-kept.

If they’re providing home care to their loved ones, remind them to take care of themselves. Mays told NPR that caregivers need to rest when the person they’re caring for is resting.

Don’t dance around the issue. The sooner your clients talk to their parents about what they want, the better it will be for everybody. They don’t want to wait until their mother or father has a stroke to make rash decisions. It’s an emotional conversation—their parents might not want to face that they’re getting older or that they soon might not be able to live on their own.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.

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The Other Great Wealth Transfer: Husband to Wife

Women outlive men. Women make less than men. We’ve heard this before, but this presents a unique challenge for planners of female clients—especially when it comes to planning for elder care and for being a caregiver.

The Journal recently received an article submission that detailed the horror two female planners felt when they heard a story of a planner who never talked to the wife of his client couple until the husband died.

While oftentimes we focus on the great wealth transfer from boomers to Gen X and millennials, the wealth transfer from boomer husbands to their wives is timelier.

“Unfortunately, older women are often invisible to the investment and technology communities,” Joe Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab and author of The Longevity Economy, recently told USA Today.

Approximately 76 million baby boomers are steamrolling toward retirement, and among them 58 percent of women of retirement age are going to need long-term care someday, versus only 47 percent of men, according to Time magazine.

Coughlin said that women are providing more eldercare than men and because of this they “enter old age with a clearer, more detailed picture of what’s ahead.”

Connecting with female clients long before they reach the years when they need some form of long-term care is wise.

Time magazine reports that about 40 percent of households with children under 18 have female breadwinners. If it’s not happening yet, it will—female breadwinners will start making their way onto your client lists. And they need your help to maintain their family’s financial future.

Oftentimes, female breadwinners are caring for both their children and their parents at the same time. The Center on Caregiving reports that 66 percent of caregivers are female.

“Those women can no longer stay home to care for children or ailing relatives without risking their family’s financial stability,” Haley Sweetland Edwards writes in the Nov. 16, 2017 Time magazine article “Dignity, Death, and America’s Crisis in Elder Care.”

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.


The Secret to Strong, Persuasive Marketing: Be for Somebody, Not Everybody

There is no doubt that 2017 was a divisive year in America. We don’t yet know what 2018 holds, but I’d take a guess that reunifying and healing the wounds on all sides may still be a long way off.

Because we live in such a time of tension, you may feel tempted to sit back and stay silent on issues that matter to you. After all, you don’t want to offend people or push potential clients away.

And it seems like everyone is offended by something these days. How can you possibly stand for something and create a strong, persuasive brand when you feel like you need to walk on eggshells with what you put out there?

But here’s the thing: if you’re doing modern marketing right, there will be people standing around, hands on hips, thinking you are not “for them.”

They’d be correct to assume that if you’re marketing to a niche and not the mainstream, a highly effective—both in terms of costs and results—way to grow your reach and your business.

Why You Don’t Need to Appeal to the Masses

If you attempt to produce something for everyone, you have to make something that is massively popular, like a blockbuster movie. While that’s possible, it’s incredibly hard to do.

Most movies that attempt to reach blockbuster status are usually mediocre at best. They follow a set formula for blockbuster movies because they must appeal to the masses. Being too quirky, too scary, too serious, too silly—all these risk the goal of winning over the majority.

Very few films perfectly execute the formula for massive success and broad appeal. Even so, that was the way things were done when the cost of getting a movie that didn’t have broad appeal to the specific audience who would appreciate it was high.

Today, we have the Internet—and Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and countless other (and cheaper) distribution channels for unique movies that appeal to a niche audience.

As Chris Anderson writes in The Long Tail, the falling cost of distribution allowed for niche markets to proliferate. He also notes that while we would expect to see demand fall as supply increases, that’s not the case.

Anderson cites market after market in which consumers have access to endless choice they seem to meet it with endless demand. As long as distribution channels exist that allow consumers to find exactly what meets their wants or needs, almost everything available in that market will eventually sell.

In other words, if you create something specific designed for a particular subset of people, you will almost always find a buyer.

You Have Access to Virtually Free Distribution, Thanks to the Internet

In front of its specific audience, the unique movie aimed at a specific taste does extremely well.

The same movie might have bombed at the box office (or never made it there at all), today doesn’t need to worry about that. It was cheaper and easier for the filmmakers to reach their niche audience and give that group something they’d love.

Who cares if every other audience didn’t like or appreciate the movie? It wasn’t for them.

You don’t need to worry about “bombing” a popularity contest either, because you can also benefit from the falling cost of distribution to niche markets. This is one of the beauties of content marketing: it can be almost free to do.

A website with hosting might cost you a few hundred bucks to set up and then about $100 per year to maintain. It doesn’t cost extra to set up a blog and start creating content on that site.

Nor does it cost anything to start producing videos for a YouTube channel—and I guarantee you already have most of the equipment you need on hand. What’s that in your pocket or in your purse? A smartphone? Boom. You’re ready to record some video.

It doesn’t cost anything to set up social media accounts. It doesn’t cost a dime to create something for a specific group of people who can benefit from what you have to offer.

Focus on Somebody, Not Everybody

It is much, much easier to produce something for a specific group of people that share common characteristics, preferences, habits, or needs and wants, than to appeal to society at large.

Your target market is far more likely to work with you because you offer a service tailored to them and their needs. You offer a solution that perfectly addresses their problems or pain points.

And if you craft a service that is perfectly suited to a specific niche, you give that group something to point at and say, “Hey! This is for me. People like me hire professionals like this.”

Of course, there’s a flip side—you will also have people standing around saying, “this is not for me.”

In his book, Anderson also notes that the natural result of providing a specific, niche service is that there will be people you exclude from your target market.

Right. That’s the point. And it’s okay.

Being for someone—instead of everyone—will make your message more precise. That, in turn, will make your marketing more compelling. As a result, you can more easily persuade someone to take an action, like picking up the phone and talking with you to see about becoming a client.

 Kali Hawlk is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.

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Best of 2017: Top Blog Posts of Last Year

Before you dive into 2018, brush up on the top 10 Practice Management Blog posts of 2017.

10.) Use these Behavioral Tips to ‘Science’ Your Clients on Saving”

This post by Dan Martin, the director of marketing for the Financial Planning Association, gives planners helpful tips to navigate the common excuses clients have for not saving enough. Martin offers scientific facts for why clients make these excuses and how you can use these facts to your advantage to help your clients save more.

9.) “Use the ‘Mere Exposure Effect’ to Attract More Clients”

This post by Samantha Russell, the director of sales and marketing for Twenty Over Ten, explores how you can utilize your blog and social media platforms to make prospects and clients more familiar with you. Russell reports that the more content you put out there, the more people will see you and the more favorably they will view you, otherwise known as the mere exposure effect. Russell also offers you some ideas for blog posts.

8.) “Creating a Childlike Curiosity”

You probably noticed when chatting with children that they have no problem asking lots of questions when they’re genuinely interested in something. Daniel Finley, president of Advisor Solutions, writes that it would be in your best interest to have that kind of curiosity when it comes to getting to know your clients and prospects. Finley offers tips on how to do this.

7.) “5 Tips to Help You Take Charge of your Social Media Strategy”

FPA’s Marketing Director Dan Martin makes the list again with this blog post giving you tips on how to best utilize social media for business success. This post arms planners with five tips to build a social-driven prospecting strategy from scratch.

6.) “Framing the Conversation: What to Say in the First 60 Seconds”

While this might seem like basic information, it doesn’t ever hurt to brush up on the basics. Daniel Finley of Advisor Solutions gives you a quick refresher on how to frame the conversation and get prospects to make an appointment with you.

5.) “The 2-Prong Approach to Marketing: Simplify Efforts and Improve Results”

Kristin Harad of Financial Planner Marketing offers this sound advice: when it comes to marketing, less is more. In this post, she encourages planners to simplify your marketing efforts by clarifying who you’re talking to, embracing your personal expression and focusing on one content marketing channel.

4.) “The 6 Personality Traits of Successful People”

Jean Chatzky’s session at FPA Annual Conference in Nashville had a wealth of information, but some of the most important takeaways were the six personality traits of successful people. Chatzky, the financial editor of the Today Show, noted that these personality traits are just as important as good financial habits. Find out what they are by reading this post by yours truly one more time.

3.) “4 Questions to Attract More Clients”

Dave Zoller of Streamline My Practice offers the questions you need to ask yourself to clarify what you have to offer to your potential clients. Exploring the answers to these four questions will make communicating your value to prospects easier and more successful.

2.) “To Instantly Connect with Your Prospects, Use the Magic Question”

Zoller is back again on the list with a blog post about questions, only this blog post examines the question you need to ask potential clients in order to connect with them. Find out what it is by reading this post again.

1.) “7 Deadly Sins of Website Design”

The most popular blog post of 2017 was by Samantha Russell of Twenty Over Ten. This post examined common mistakes planners might be making when it comes to designing their websites. Read this post again to see what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it. Or read it again to congratulate yourself on a website well designed.

Interested in blogging for us in 2018? Email me at alimon@onefpa.org.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.








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Top Post of 2017: To Instantly Connect with Your Prospects, Use The Magic Question

Editor’s note: To close up the year we’re going to post the top three blog posts of 2017. New content will resume in the new year. This post by Dave Zoller of Streamline My Practice is about the best question to ask prospects to instantly connect with them. We hope you enjoy it again and that you have a Happy New Year.

After learning this single question, your initial meetings with prospects will never be the same.

This question will help you instantly connect, differentiate yourself, and pre-qualify your prospects within the first few minutes of the meeting.

Once you see the effect it can have, you’ll most likely make it a mandatory part of every first meeting with a prospect.

Why Is This Question So Effective?
I first learned about the Magic Question from the business coach, Dan Sullivan. He wrote an entire book (titled The Dan Sullivan Question) on this question and why it works. After reading the book, I tweaked the question slightly so that it would make sense for financial advisers to ask their prospects.

At first, you may be a little hesitant to ask the question because it’s so different. And you can be pretty sure that they’ve never been asked this by their financial adviser before. Once you start using it, it will become clear how quickly you can connect with complete strangers over the phone.

The great thing about the question is that everyone can answer it—but they are required to think before they do. This is an important part of the process because you want to make sure you’re working with people who care about their finances and want to put the proper effort and thought into planning their future.

You may notice that about one out of 20 people do not answer the question. Either their brain cannot function in a way to think futuristically or they simply do not want to answer. This is actually a great thing because the people who don’t answer the question or don’t give authentic answers are probably not the right fit. They are the kinds of people you can disqualify right away before wasting any more time.

There are three reasons why this question works:

1.) It’s about them. About what they want. The results they are looking to achieve.

2.) It brings clarity. To where they want to go. To what’s most important to them. To how they define success. As you know, It’s hard for some people to specify their goals. This question makes it easy.

3.) It encourages them. One of the fastest ways to influence someone is to encourage their dreams. They are opening up to you about what’s most important and you are their ready to stand next to them and show them how it’s possible. People are attracted to those who encourage them in what’s most important in their life.

The 4-Part Magic Question
The first part of the question is the most important. That’s the one you will ask to instantly connect with someone. The following three are not necessary but they can be great to follow-ups to delve deeper into what they’re are looking for.

Here is the magic, four-part question:

If we were meeting three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years, what has to have happened in your financial life for you to feel happy with your progress?

  • What are the biggest challenges you will have to face in order to achieve that progress?
  • What are the biggest opportunities that you would need to focus on to achieve those things?
  • What role would you like an adviser to play during those three years?

Give the magic question a try during your next initial meeting with a prospect. After you do, I’d love to hear how it went. Email me at dave@streamlinemypractice.com to share your results.


Dave Zoller is a financial adviser at Streamline My Practice in Warrenville, Illinois.

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Assessing Your Professional Communities

Professionals routinely seek the association of a community. For financial planners, an organized group of other planners can provide a forum for learning from others, sharing ideas, gathering input and providing recommendations. It also presents an opportunity to belong, not to mention an outlet for social engagement and enjoyment. After all, humans—even the most introverted among us—are hardwired to need human relationships.

Which Community is Right for You?

If you’re not currently a member of a professional community, I encourage you to consider how you may benefit by finding one to belong to and—more important—to participate in. Of course, there are pros and cons with almost any community, and size is an important factor to consider. Some communities are so tight-knit that it can take a new planner years to work his or her way in. Others have members who go out of their way to include newbies.

Within the financial planning world, you have a variety of professional communities from which to choose. These include industry associations, business partnerships (e.g., broker/dealers), learning groups associated with vendors, alumni organizations and study groups (just to name a few!). In my experience, study groups are a case study within themselves.

Some are lackadaisical to the point of being sloppy and don’t tend to last long. Others use websites to communicate and a “sergeant of arms” to help ensure that meetings are efficient. Still others are forums for one strong ego to pontificate to others. But the best ones provide honest feedback and diplomatically communicate and confront one another’s ideas and practices.

Consider this food for thought as you evaluate which type of professional community is right for you and/or how your community is serving you.

Is it Time to Reassess?

If you do belong to at least one professional community, when was the last time you stood back and assessed whether it is still providing value? If you miss a meeting here and there, for instance, it could be a sign that something is not quite working. But if you have grown to dread participation? It’s definitely time to reassess.

It might help to ask yourself the following questions as you gauge the value of your membership:

  • Do you belong to a group where so many things have changed over the years that it’s no longer the ideal fit it once was?
  • Do you carry all of the responsibility for the group’s success, or is responsibility shared within the group?
  • Are you intimidated by other members?
  • Is your participation a win-win for you and for others?

Evaluation of Feedback

Professional communities offer a platform to discuss a wide variety of ideas. This could mean a staffing pattern, a procedure, technology approaches, the valuation of your business, a long-term strategy, compensation and benefits, roles and responsibilities of staff and planners, marketing initiatives and much more. Whatever the case, it is always a good idea to assess the feedback and ideas that you receive from your group. Remember, just because something has worked for another (even when it is an planner you respect), it does not mean that it will automatically work for you.

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Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass.

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Empathetic Service Isn’t Enough

If you were at the FPA Annual Conference in Nashville in early October, you may have noticed some themes recurring throughout the education sessions: embracing robo solutions will soon be required, and artificial intelligence and big data are going to begin to permeate the profession.

In the recent InvestmentNews article “Morningstar CEO Describes Future of Adviser Tech,” Morningstar’s Kunal Kapoor told readers that artificial intelligence and big data will help financial planners do two things: better understand who their clients are and what their biases are, and know how to help those clients more proactively.

Big data, Kapoor said, will help planners prospect to the right clients, eliminating the tedious work of securing referrals and networking. It will also provide insight into impending transitions your clients are facing, like a serious health problem. But planners need to embrace technology, Joel Bruckenstein, publisher of Technology Tools for Today and producer of the T3 Advisor Conference, told FPA Annual Conference attendees.

“Things are changing and they’re changing fast, and if you don’t react you’re going to have problems,” Bruckenstein said. “Our beliefs with regard to technology are antiquated.”

Embracing robo solutions allows financial planners to have a greater reach, Bruckenstein said, enabling them to serve 50 to 100 percent more clients from different generations. This is smart, considering the impending intergenerational wealth transfer.

Also included in the move toward more robo solutions and artificial intelligence, according to Bruckenstein, is a heavier reliance on mobile technology solutions, which is becoming more essential. The demand for 24/7 service will continue to grow.

Also coming is the death of passwords and the rise of facial recognition. Inefficient processes will be eliminated, and anything that can be automated will be automated—including the investment process.

In a Financial Planning article describing a similar outlook, Cetera Financial Group’s Adam Antoniades and Robert J. Moore wrote, “Advisers … should view this as a complement to the services they already provide.”

Bruckenstein said, so long as they can embrace technology along with their empathetic service.

“Just the personal side alone isn’t enough,” Bruckenstein said. “It would be a tragic mistake to think that just a personal relationship with a lousy consumer experience is going to carry you though the future.”

FPA Annual Conference will take place in Chicago from Oct. 3-5 in Chicago, Ill. Register here.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.