Leading retirement plan advisors exhibit several key differences in the way they approach their practice.

Successful advisors have more efficient practices, they keep up to speed on products and trends, are better positioned to withstand uncertain markets, and are better prepared to handle specific economic challenges like low interest rates, according to Cara Farchione, manager of retirement solutions for Raymond James.

Further, top advisors in the retirement plan area are less challenged by the practice management issues of working with lower income clients, and they feel more confident about their ability to ‘sell’ themselves and attract clients.

They also happen to have higher account balances and manage a significant greater share of their clients’ assets than their counterparts, Farchione said at Raymond James FInancial Services' National Conference for Professional Development in Orlando on Monday

Farchione cited research which found that about 81% of clients think a detailed retirement plan is important, yet only 18% of investors in that study concede that they have a plan. “It shows a clear gap in what the delivery is and what the client expectations are,” she said.

One of the ways in which financial advisors who work on retirement plan can begin to stand out from their peers is to get up to speed on the latest changes governing the Medicare program. Mercer, the consulting firm, supplies white papers and guides, plus letters and emails that advisors can send out to clients to bring them up to speed on how to navigate the changes.

There are other ways for advisors to distinguish themselves as reliable experts in this area. One attendee specifically mentioned that the Raymond James’ retirement framework simply and clearly explains to clients how their assets should be allocated in retirement. In the framework, a clients’ reliable income is designated as retirement income to pays for living expenses. Retirement assets are used to fill in any shortfalls from the reliable income stream, and the rest of the assets will buy the items or fund other nonessential items that the client wants.