Recently, we wrote about the difficult job market for new graduates and working professionals, but what about at the other end of the spectrum?

Retirement is now a growing concern for Americans, with many asking: How will I be able to retire? When will I be able to retire? How am I to plan for my retirement in today’s risky financial marketplace and how do I know that my money will be safe?

Consumer protection is a core component of financial regulation today, yet one of the areas in which consumers are most vulnerable is in planning for their retirement. Near-term retirees lost significant amounts of money when the markets crashed in 2008. That loss, together with the danger that social security could run out in our lifetime and the fact that fewer companies are offering traditional pensions means that the outlook for future retirees seems bleak.

Regulations such as FINRA 2090 and FINRA 2011, which come into effect this July, are requiring that brokers know their customers’ risk tolerances and are able to demonstrate a suitable investment is being made across the entire portfolio, including retirement accounts. Advisors are already held to a fiduciary standard, so both advisors and broker-dealers will need to be able to prove the recommendations they make are in the best interest of their clients.

Unfortunately, it is becoming more difficult for advisors and broker-dealers to gauge the suitability of products and present their pros and cons in a simplified way to customers, given the increasing complexity of retirement products and the changing risk profiles of today’s retirees. It will therefore be important for them to use the right tools to help customers better understand the products available to them today and make better decisions about their future.

There are numerous tools available, including financial planning and point-of-sale illustration software, as well as niche products such as annuities sales and suitability software. There are also retirement calculators to help potential investors deal with increasingly complex retirement scenarios.

Certainly, we are at the apex of change in the retirement industry and as many older workers continue to delay their retirement, the reality is that financial advisors and broker dealers are facing a host of new challenges related to financial planning for their clients.

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