Is Social Security planning and income planning the same thing, or mutually exclusive? You might be looking at this question and thinking to yourself, “What kind of question is that? Of course they are the same.” To you, I would say I agree with that statement. Here’s the issue, though: a lot of financial professionals act as if they are mutually exclusive. In other words, their actions do not follow their words.
Financial professionals that like to use Social Security seminars as a means of marketing are doing so to get people in to talk about financial products and really don’t care about when the client turns on their Social Security—or even worse—they don’t care how it affects them in the long run. True financial professionals care about all things that can affect a client’s income, both now and in the future. So, financial professionals should look at all forms of income and how it will affect the client today, tomorrow, and ten years from now. They need to look at taxes, additional spending possibilities, long-term care possibilities, death of a spouse, long life expectancy, etc. It is more than just getting a good rate of return or making sure they have guaranteed income. These are all pieces to the larger puzzle that is income planning.
So many times, financial professionals will tell a person when it would be optimal to turn on their Social Security, so they can get the most out of the system without any regard to the client’s total financial picture and how that will affect them in their later years of retirement. You see, if a financial professional is doing this kind of planning, they should use an income planning software to substantiate their recommendation about when to turn on Social Security, when to tap into assets, when to stop working, how to deal with a long-term care stay, how much risk the client should take, etc.
I regularly talk with financial professionals that are so fixated on putting a person into a product with an income rider that the he/she can’t understand how bad it is for their client. I can put that same scenario in some income planning software and prove to them that it is not in the client’s best interest. The problem is, they don’t want to be bothered with taking the extra steps to be sure they’re doing what’s in the client’s best interest. What does that tell you about your financial advisor?
Using incoming planning software really is simple. Start by finding a software that’s easy to use and navigate, and take time to learn the product. All the software companies I’m aware of have plenty of opportunities for training and help with cases. At Financial Independence Group, we use RetireUp Pro. It’s a very solid option that’s available in our Agent Portal, and we can teach you how to use it in front of your clients. You’ll be much more confident presenting if you know the science and the math behind what you’re presenting.
Truth be told, if you’re not using an income planning software to prove what you’re doing is in the best interest of your client, you are just product-pushing. The Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule (whether is stays or goes), has put a bullseye on the financial industry and it’s time to become a well-rounded wealth advisor IF you’re planning on staying in the industry.
These Social Security seminars are a great way to get prospects in a room to talk about something that is very important to them, BUT you must make sure that you present it in a way that gets them to understand that there’s no cookie cutter answer to when they should take their Social Security benefits. It all comes down to what the income plan says, and what fits your situation the best. Everybody will be different and you, the advisor, should treat each case as such.
It’s time for financial advisors to take the plunge. It’s time to get onboard with income planning software so you can do what’s best for your clients, while being more confident in your presentation as well as answering their concerns.
Lastly, please beware of the bait-and-switch when it comes to Social Security marketing. The new bullseye remains on your back with these types of seminars because advisors have taken advantage of the situation and not done what’s right. Be clear and concise about what Social Security is, how it works, and how timing is different for everybody. Also, be clear on what you personally provide to help them with making this choice. It’s more than just finding out when to turn on Social Security, so your clients can garner the most out of the system. It is, however, about when they turn it on in relation to their overall financial situation and income plan.
Moral of the story: do the right thing and it will always work out for the best!