Financial advisors need to maintain knowledge and expertise about a wide range of planning topics. Most of them tackle this challenge well, and are able to speak on a number of different areas of finance and investing that matter most to their clients.
But one area that often gets neglected: Social Security.
If you’re a financial advisor or any other professional who works with individuals on some aspect of their financial life, I want to give you 3 reasons you need to seriously consider becoming the go-to expert on Social Security. Doing so will not only deepen your relationship with your current clients, but also equips you to achieve explosive growth in your practice.
This is something I’ve personally experienced. I went from running a financial planning practice that was barely surviving — I’d maxed out my credit cards, emptied my IRA, and even started applying to other jobs — to the business I have today. My firm now employs multiple people, turns most new prospective clients away in favor of being highly selective with who we work, and generates revenues I never imagined being able to achieve.
When I look back, the turning point between those two extremes of near failure and wild success is clear: it happened when I mastered Social Security and then let everyone know.
Adding Social Security expertise to your practice gives you enormous advantages over other financial advisors for three key reasons.
#1) Deepen Your Relationships and Add More Value with Existing Clients
As a financial advisor, I always want to increase my clients’ satisfaction with my firm’s service. It’s too easy for any client, at any firm, to ask themselves the question, “Out of all the financial advisors out there, is mine the best for what I need?”
Your clients are no exception. Consumers have endless options and there’s no shortage of other advisors who would be happy to convince them to take their business elsewhere.
You can solve this problem by adding massive value to what you provide, leaving no doubt in the client’s mind that no one can serve them the way your firm does. Adding Social Security expertise is a unique way to give clients something they probably can’t get anywhere else.
Becoming a Social Security expert obviously adds value for clients who are close to retiring… but even younger clients with longer time horizons to retirement will benefit. Doing an annual Social Security earnings review should be another touchpoint that you or your service team does every year.
If you’re not talking to your clients about Social Security right now, you’re taking a big risk: Nationwide’s 2021 survey on consumer sentiment around Social Security found 72% of clients would be likely to switch financial planners if their current planner couldn’t give them satisfactory help with their Social Security benefit decisions.
That should be a sobering number for the advisers who aren’t actively helping their clients with Social Security, and a compelling statistic that makes the case for becoming your clients’ go-to Social Security expert.
#2) Attract New Clients and Grow Your Practice
The same Nationwide survey also found 67% of respondents who do not collect Social Security want to engage a financial planner to get help on integrating their other income streams with their future Social Security benefits. In other words, people are actively looking for experts in this field.
More than 10,000 people per day will turn 65 over the next 10 years. And these people are searching for answers and help on Social Security. Every month, there are more than 7 million searches on Google for a keyword related to Social Security.
Plus, filing for Social Security is one of the first decisions that someone will have to make about their retirement. This is a very easy conversation for you to start, especially when people are already out there asking the question.
If you can help them with this important decision, they’ll probably trust you enough to let you help them with the rest of it.
I don’t know of any other single retirement issue that has anywhere close to that demand for answers. You can position yourself as the go-to expert in your area on Social Security and meet these people before they’ve had a chance to make other important retirement decisions.
#3) Be a Compelling Resource for CPAs and Attorneys
Clients aren’t the only ones actively seeking Social Security experts. Centers of influence for financial advisors, like CPAs and attorneys, also need to know who to direct their clients to on these topics.
Most advisors are already trained to seek referrals from these sources… but that means for every “center of influence,” there’s a long line of financial professionals hoping to get their attention and convince them to send clients over.
I know from first-hand experience that it’s hard to stand out in this crowd clamoring for referrals. I tried everything to tap this market: I’d drop off expensive tax guides; I’d get donuts and coffee for their office; I’d look for opportunities to send them referrals hoping they’d notice and reciprocate.
I can count on one hand the number of referrals that they sent back to me — and, in hindsight, I don’t blame them. In my town of roughly 70,000 people, there were more than 100 financial professionals who held the exact same license as I did and could provide the same services.
But all of that changed when the word started spreading that I knew Social Security better than anyone else in town. And now when I look back through my clients that have come in over the past years, about half of them have been referrals from centers of influence.
You can stand out in the same way by developing expertise in Social Security. Despite how important it is to know the program’s ins and outs, most advisors still don’t know enough (if anything!) about the topic. This presents a huge opportunity for all the financial professionals who are willing to jump in and start learning.
How to Become the Go-To Social Security Expert in Your Area
If you want to get the attention of clients, prospective clients, or centers of influence, you need a professional credential that demonstrates competency on issues related to Social Security. The Registered Social Security Analyst designation, or RSSA, is quickly becoming the gold standard.
I have the RSSA credential myself, and I had my planning staff go through the program as well. You can start by registering for and taking a 5-module online self study program. The program also counts toward CPA, CFP or enrolled agent continuing education credits. Once you’ve completed these modules, you are eligible to sit for the RSSA Competency Final Exam.
Even though this is a self-study course, you won’t be working in a vacuum without support. Along the way you’ll have access to my team of RSSAs who have already taken this course and have a deep understanding of Social Security. They’ll be there to help you work through any areas of confusion and add clarity. And this support doesn’t end once you’ve passed the test. As long as you remain a member of the National Association of Registered Social Security Advisors, you’ll have ongoing access to this help desk when things get complicated and you need help.
In addition to this live support, you also have access to other valuable resources including client engagement and invoicing tools, brochures, graphics, presentations (with the presenter notes), monthly RSSA group webinar meetings, and a lot more.
So whether you’re looking for a way to deepen your current client relationships, or maybe attract new clients, or you want to finally get the attention of key referral centers, it all starts with the training and education you receive with the RSSA credential.
To get started with the 5-module course, click here. Make sure to use my special promo code before you enroll: devin250. That will save you $250 on the initial cost. I’d suggest putting that savings toward marketing your expertise in Social Security: print new brochures, start a round of Facebook ads, or pay for a room rental to host your first Social Security workshop.
The field of Social Security advice is still in its early stages. If you move now, you’ll have the advantage. Take the first step today and sign up for the RSSA program. I look forward to seeing your name added to the growing list of advisors who have earned the RSSA credential.