Whatever retirement income planning and management may lack in pizzazz compared to say futures trading or derivatives, it more than makes up for it in volume as financial advisors brace for an onslaught of retirement-ready Baby Boomers desperate for competent advice and guidance.
A new survey released this week from the Retirement Income Industry Association suggests that while many financial advisors and dealer-brokers are already seeing a substantial uptick in this arena, only a tiny sliver of the advisor community is making retirement planning the cornerstone of their business.
The survey, which queried more than 1,000 financial advisors, executives and industry pundits, found that 70 percent of advisors who have invested the time and effort required to become specialists in this field have enjoyed "significant" growth in client revenue since 2008.
This growth will only accelerate in the next two decades as, according to the U.S. Census, the number of people age 65 and older will increase 79% between now and 2030-- an additional 75 million potential new clients.
"Over 90% of advisors have 20% or more of their clients in retirement and many are gearing up to support the inevitable wave of Boomer retirees," said Howard Schneider, founder of financial services consulting and research firm Practical Perspectives and co-author of the report. "Yet only a limited number of advisors-- less than 1 in 25-- have shifted the primary focus of their practice to serve this growing market."
Schneider estimates there are only between 5,000 and 6,000 advisors in the country who are primarily dedicated to serving retirement income clients.
"It's critical to be aware that retirement income support is not just accumulation in reverse," Schneider said, noting that most financial advisors spend the majority of their time helping investors who have yet to retire and more focused on longer term objectives like putting their kids through college or buying a home.
"It's a distinct discipline for advisors and one that is still in its early stages," he added. "Serving retirement income clients is inherently more complex, customized and time consuming."
Beleaguered boomers, who represent the first generation of retirees who were largely responsible for managing their own retirement with rollovers from employee-sponsored pensions and 401k plans, are living longer, tapping into social security benefits earlier and absorbing substantially higher healthcare costs at every step along the way.
These issues have been further exacerbated by treacherous macroeconomic conditions and a series of investment scandals that have simultaneously " target="_blank">spooked retirees and eroded their nest eggs.
"Retirees are looking for help and advisors that can help articulate the clients' needs and wants," said Dennis Gallant, the report's co-author and president of GDC Research. "The value of [advisors'] retirement income process will capture and retain more clients and increase client wallet share and assets under management."
Financial advisors who acquired the most new retirement income clients in the past three years were the ones who expanded their areas of expertise beyond simply managing investments to new areas including health care, elder care, career consulting and other personalized support.
Diversity and creativity in both the number and types of investment vehicles recommended will determine which financial advisors are best positioned to capitalize on this fast-growing investor group.
"For the most part, the development of retirement income process has been a grassroots effort as advisors developed their own workarounds and solutions," Schneider said. "The industry has just begun to increase focus on the retirement income market with product, platform and practice management solutions."