Carolyn McClanahan talks aging, prostates and going out of business

Most advisers have a tough time discussing health issues with clients — and that imperils them

Mar 20, 2019 @ 4:53 pm

By Greg Iacurci

To hear Carolyn McClanahan tell it, healthcare has become a sort of pariah among financial advisers — they don't want to deal with the issue with clients, at least not in a substantial way.

Ms. McClanahan, a financial adviser, recently co-founded the company Whealthcare Planning, which leverages technology to help advisers and clients identify age-related financial risks and create financial plans that address the issues.

Here are five questions she answered for InvestmentNews reporter Greg Iacurci.

Greg Iacurci: You seem to believe a big part of the future of financial advice is centered around healthcare guidance fused with technology.

Carolyn McClanahan: If we aren't addressing health and aging issues in our practices, we aren't planning for the future of financial advice. We're all getting older, and millennials and Gen Xers are having to take care of those aging parents. It affects everybody.

(More: Health-care planning presents an opportunity for advisers)

GI: Where does technology fit in?

CM: Tech takes the really hard, numerous questions and processes it all. The adviser doesn't have to remember anything, the adviser doesn't have to have the hard conversation. Software can ask the questions and provide what needs to be done. Now the adviser's role is helping clients implement what needs to be put in place so they can age successfully.

GI: Where do you see advisers messing up most when it comes to the integration of health and wealth?

CM: They don't do it at all. That's the truth. It's such a hard, hairy subject for them. The potential cost of healthcare and aging, that's a big, scary thing for a client. If you're not addressing that well, you're not giving the client financial peace. You're going to go out of business if you're not addressing that issue in your practice.

Older people love to talk about their health — men and their prostates, women and all the issues they face with menopause. If an adviser is comfortable talking about health and aging, most clients are relieved and happy to talk about it with them. Some people just want to put their heads in the sand, but you can't rescue everybody.

(More: Even the strongest retirement plans can be derailed by health care costs)

GI: Where do you see this tech going in the future?

CM: Down the road, there are other things we can help people with. Planning for the last year of life is a whole other conversation. There's a lot more to do. My short-term goal and our biggest barrier is getting people comfortable with the idea of actually planning for aging.

GI: It sounds like you don't think these sorts of conversations can be automated entirely, à la robo-advice.

CM: No, because it's such a personal thing. And I don't think we can ever totally replace people. Advisers, real advisers, are helping people make sense of all of it.

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