TRAK Educates Clients Planning for Retirement

Michigan advisor uses TRAK to help clients become active participants in their retirement planning.

From his office in Grand Rapids, Chuck Rushmore provides retirement and financial Advisor Chuck Rushmoreplanning services throughout Western Michigan. He has been in the business since 1998 and started Senior Financial Advisors, LLC, in 2003. Mr. Rushmore is an independent advisor and his broker dealer is PlanMember Securities.

The Advisor

My target market is working with people fifty to sixty-five in the retired and pre-retired planning market. A large share of my business is working with teachers. Typically my clients have accumulated $150,000 to $800,000 in retirement assets. They want to avoid running out of money before they run out of life.

I now position my work as retirement income planning because that’s what my clients are really interested in – how much will they have to spend in retirement and how long will it last them?

The Situation

I had been in the business for seven years and over that time I had extensively used many other types of retirement illustration software. But I never used them in front of clients because they were not consistent with my biggest value proposition: my independence as an advisor.

Then, as now, every mutual fund company, every insurance company had a retirement illustration planner branded with their products, their mutual funds, their annuities and their advertising. Using those illustration planners did not enhance my credibility as an independent adviser. As I saw it, I was selling me and the value of my relationship with my clients.

It’s all about the client, not products. The products are easy to sell once the client sees that you are the good guy and that you will help them reach their goals and attain their dreams.

Also, if you’re advising a high net worth person, they’ll have different issues than the people I’m generally working with. My average clients are teachers, and they usually don’t have estate issues and things like that. My clients are people struggling to figure out, “Hey, can I retire? When? Am I going to have enough money to live on?”

I needed a retirement illustration system that would help me answer those questions for working people in clear, simple, straightforward ways.

The Solution

I first saw TRAK when I joined PlanMember Securities in 2005 at my first national sales conference. Right away, I saw that TRAK was much easier to use, especially as far as inputting data. The graphics and illustrations were simple yet compelling, and much easier to explain to clients.

In fact, it seemed that TRAK was designed for active use alongside a client, which fit in well with my standard two meeting approach.

The first meeting is a “get to know you” meeting, very conversational, where I find what the client wants to do, where they are now, what their dreams and goals are, what they’re concerned about and what unique situations they may have in their lives.

In meeting number one, I tell people we’re trying to find out if I can help them and to make sure they really want my help. I take a look at the assets, find out what they’re concerned about and figure out if I can help them or not.

One question I always ask people is “Do you see yourself at any point in the future becoming financially responsible for your parents or your relatives?”

And that helps me uncover whether their parents are alive, which may establish a future need for long-term care. Or whether there may be extra expenses that wouldn’t normally be there.

Between the first and second meeting I use TRAK to analyze the current investments and come up with a strategy.

At the second meeting, I’ll already have TRAK software populated with the client’s information. TRAK software automatically calculates projections on Michigan State’s pension plan for my clients who are public school employees.

I love using TRAK in front of customers. I actually bought a nineteen inch monitor and mounted it on my desk so my clients have their own screen to look a while I’m on my laptop.

I spend 90% of my time with TRAK’s Gap and the Quick Gap illustrations. These screens allow me to show my clients any retirement shortfalls. Then, with the client, we massage their retirement profile, do a printout, review their investments and make changes as necessary.

TRAK software lets me input new data very quickly and analyze it along with the client and explain any variables. I do this data input live with the client and explain all the different variables.

My clients can clearly see the need for the changes we are making so, as we go along, their commitment to the plan increases.

When we reach the point where I feel we have put together a good plan for the client, I say, “Ok, is this the one you want me to print out?” If they say yes, then I know they have really bought into the program. People really commit to it when they have had a part in creating the plan.

Many times, people fool themselves into thinking they’re going to get a phenomenal rate of return or that they’re not going to live as long as they think they might or whatever. Walking a client through a TRAK presentation screen by screen, step by step is a very good way to help the client be realistic about their expectations.

That’s one of the key things I do, I think, is help people get realistic about how much they’re going to have to spend and how long it will last them. This way I come across as a retirement income planner, not a product salesman.

I see my clients once a year. When I do, we plug in new numbers and if any assumptions have changed, like they’re going to retire later or earlier or they have an inheritance we didn’t know about a year ago we plug those things in and print it out and then compare them.

Those follow-on annual client meetings take twenty minutes to half an hour at the most. I can tell from the way my clients react that with TRAK, they are getting a presentation that they appreciate and are not accustomed to. So TRAK just streamlines my business dramatically.

The Result

I know in my heart that I have a certain closing ratio based on the type of people I am seeing, like teachers. And I have a process I’ve developed over the years that works for me – of how I meet people, how I get to know them, fact find and work through to the end. And TRAK is such a huge part of that process.

I’ve stopped calling what I do financial planning and now I call it retirement income planning because that’s what most people are interested in these days. All my advertising is focused on retirement income planning and TRAK software is an integral part of it.

I feel I am better prepared for whatever changes my practice faces as a result of these IRS changes for the 403(b) market. I never put all my eggs in one basket. I work on referrals and I focus on retirement income planning for people 50-plus. That takes me into small business owners, non-profits and so on.

Planning for people 50-plus is basically the same whether they are teachers or not and most folks out there have never seen retirement options presented in the easy-to-understand graphic simplicity that TRAK makes possible.

I am glad I use TRAK.

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