Why is it so hard to sell retirement income products to financial advisors?

Every week, I’m engaged in conversations with insurance and investment product companies asking me this question: why is it so hard to sell retirement income products/solutions to financial advisors?  Last week I posted this very question on RIIA’s (Retirement Income Industry Association) Linkedin Discussion group which is now 1,250 members strong just to gather insights from a cross-section of financial professionals http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=35362&type=member&item=52226123&qid=4d16db78-9b12-41e7-b6bb-162d7355cc2d&goback=%2Egmp_35362.  The answer is, of course, it depends on how you’re selling it and to which audience.

Despite the growing share of transition and retired households in most advisor practices, adding retirement income planning and products to their accumulation-centric routines and tool box is a big challenge.   Why?  Well first, the retirement income business model is different from the accumulation business model.  The best solution for the transitioning or retired client  may not be perceived as the most profitable solution for the advisor.  Second, many advisors are uncomfortable suggesting a new approach to their clients.  Why?  For many rational and emotional reasons, including: fear their clients will ask if this means their approach in the past was wrong; because the advisors haven’t yet mastered the retirement income story for client consumption; because many retirement income products are new, complex, and require more wholesaler support e.g. annuities; because advisors like products with long, proven track records; and because manyexisting advisor tools and processes don’t accomodate the integration of many new retirement income products.

So what’s a retirement income provider to do to break through to the advisors and power more growth?  Is there an opportunity to add some pull to the push of retiement income products?

To be successful with advisors, segmenting the large advisor and agent universe and developing the right messaging platform – value proposition, proof points, sales tracks –  is crucial.  Complementing these strategic marketing elements with best-in-class training and support is essential.  Remember, advisors will ultimately do what’s in the interest of their practice – matching your product with their tangible goals e.g. client retention, gathering new client assets (household view), acquiring new clients, making things easy, will make you a winner.  And if the retirement income providers could collectively help the consumer understand the questions they should be asking their advisors about transitioning from accumulation to retirement income….