On Retirement

Mary Beth Franklin: New Social Security prospecting tool all sizzle, no steak

Marketing tool aimed at helping advisers land clients, but comes with no SocSec calculator

Jul 7, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

By Mary Beth Franklin

The one-time specialty of Social Security income planning is going main stream. It's no longer the purview of a small group of financial advisers focusing on retirement income planning. Rather, it is becoming a key part of the financial advice industry. And now one company is helping advisers quantify the impact of that advice.

For $45 per month, Social Security Wise offers financial advisers a way to prospect for retirement income clients through a personalized website. The site includes a high-impact movie explaining to consumers how they can get the most from Social Security benefits.

The multimedia presentation, created by Wealth2k, can be posted to Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and includes a link that takes viewers directly to the adviser's personalized Social Security Wise website. Every time a prospect downloads the companion brochure, Good Decisions: Getting the Most from Social Security, the adviser is notified in real-time and the prospect's email address is captured and sent to the adviser. The toolkit includes personalized post cards for mass-mailing campaigns.

WHAT TO READ The most-misunderstood Social Security rule

Now here's the really interesting part: the Social Security Wise suite of web tools contains no Social Security claiming strategy calculator. The company's promotion materials note that “Social Security Wise is exclusively focused on prospecting and client education… and delivers it to where the client want to be met, whether that is over an iPad, iphone, Android smartphone, desktop or any other device with a web browser.”

In other words, once an adviser hooks a prospective client based on the promise of higher income through savvy Social Security claiming strategies, it is up to the adviser to figure out how to implement it. It's the height of the old marketing adage: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. But in this case, there's no steak.

That worries me a bit. Certainly, there are many great Social Security claiming calculators available for advisers at a wide range of price points, including Social Security Analyzer, Social Security Explorer, Maximize My Social Security, Social Security Timing and the excellent Social Security training program available through Horsesmouth.

Given the enormous public interest in Social Security claiming strategies, and the fact that 10,000 Boomers become eligible for retirement benefits every day, you would think consumers would be lining up at advisers' offices for help, observes David Macchia, founder of Wealth2K. But they're not. Mr. Macchia suggests that an accessible and well- executed Social Security education center may be just the online edge an adviser needs to raise his or her public profile to connect with new clients.

But I am concerned that some advisers might take the shortcut of signing up for a slick website and lead-generating tool without investing in the back end effort to learn the ins and outs of Social Security claiming strategies. I can assure you, it will be worth your time and money to complete the picture by signing up for a Social Security calculator or training program.

The right Social Security claiming strategies can increase an individual's lifetime income by tens of thousands of dollars and for a married couple, it can mean an extra $100,000 or more in benefits over their joint lifetimes. Once prospective clients understand that you can help maximize their benefits, they may feel more comfortable investing the rest of their money with you. And remember, if you have questions about Social Security claiming strategies, I'm here to answer them.

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