Because I was a student manager for Indiana University’s basketball team, I’m often asked how practices were with Coach Bob Knight. As you can imagine, they were generally intense with little time wasted. But, many of them included invaluable life lessons for all involved. One such practice was during our Christmas break. Coach came out of his locker room with a fishing pole in hand. I automatically knew this practice was going to different.
Coach spent 90 minutes talking about being aware of your surroundings for the best chance of success. He used the analogy of fly fishing in a river with a fast current. He moved around the basketball court, simulating how a fisherman might move. He said you have to be careful when stepping on slippery stones, as you need a steady frame to cast your line. And, you have to pay attention to the strength of the current, so your feet aren’t pulled out from under you.
You have to gather all this information into your decision-making process as you fish. And, you have to practice. Coach would cast his line and land the bobber within 6 inches of his target. Every time. Years of repetition created muscle memory, so he was extremely accurate.
Coach’s fishing analogy was true for basketball, and it’s also true for income planning in an investment portfolio. There are hundreds of risks associated with a retiree’s income plans, but longevity-related issues multiply the chances of running out of money. Each risk in longevity is its own stone covered by moss. The client can easily slip and get caught up in the current. After that, it’s hard to recover. The damage is already done.
In planning, you have to constantly check the variables surrounding your clients, just as you would check for slippery rocks or pay attention to the speed of the current. You can reduce the impact of longevity by shifting your client’s risk.
The cash flow pressure of a long-term care event can be mitigated with insurance or income riders that provide additional income. Annuities are the only vehicle that use mortality credits to boost income yield to the client, and income streams can be guaranteed through immediate or deferred income products. And, inflation protection can be reduced through riders on many annuities.
Want to be as accurate as Coach Knight? You’ll need repetition. Make income planning a repeatable process in your practice, and you’ll be more efficient and effective with your clients. You’ll also improve retention and increase referrals.
Navigate the planning process like a skilled fisherman. Eliminate or reduce as many slippery stones as possible. Watch your step so you don’t get caught up in the current. Shift the risks and make your client’s journey more predictable.
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Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. You can get his latest book, “Winning Strategies: The New Rules of Retirement Planning,” on Amazon.
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