Securities America Women Advisors Connect
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Aging in Place

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How some financial professionals are helping clients prepare for in-home care and their long-term planningJanine Wertheim

You’ve likely counseled your clients and their families on managing assets to cover the cost associated with assisted living or retirement communities. If they came to you for guidance on planning for themselves or a loved one to be able to stay in their home with the proper resources, would you be prepared to help?

At the 2015 Super Women’s Summit at Connect national conference, keynote speaker Missy Escribano, RCC™, CAPS, led an engaging session on aging in place. Her session which focused on the role financial professionals can take in this growing field, resonated with the audience, resulting in a lively discussion.

62% of caregivers say they were not financially prepared to take care of parents or grandparents, but they are – and it is a strain.

A licensed financial professional, Escribano noticed a lack of conversation on helping clients who wished to remain in their own homes instead of going to assisted facilities, or clients taking care of aging family members. Her approach focuses on several nuances, including cultural differences, while educating financial professionals about the many resources available on aging in place.

“For financial professionals, their clients trust them with everything else, including referrals for CPAs and estate planning lawyers, so this allows financial advisors to be prepared for the tough questions about a client’s care or care for a parent,” Escribano said. “To be the ultimate resource of information, we discuss additional services and situations, like finding a geriatric care manager.”

While financial professionals may not know where to start, there are many places to gather information, or direct clients to as well. Some of the resources mentioned included from the National Council on Aging and the Caregiver Resource Manual.

Financial professionals already exploring resources have experienced a new way to connect with and better serve clients. Margie Swanson of Charlottesville, Va., is involved with her local chamber’s group on aging in place and has built a network she can refer clients to, or call upon herself if needed to help a client.

“A couple of years ago, in the chamber, we decided that there should be an association of individuals in the community who work with seniors,” Swanson said. “It’s been very good because what we’ve done is develop relationships with people with all types of expertise when it comes to aging. We’ve learned about individuals so that when we do have clients who we want to refer, whether it be for their own personal care or to select a facility for a mother or father, it gives us an opportunity to associate or link them with someone who we know would be a good fit.”

Having that network in place let Swanson assist a client who fell ill quickly and did not have any relatives close by. After visiting the client, Swanson realized the situation was worse than expected.

“My client’s son lived in another town. I called one of the members of the group and I introduced her to my client and the son together. And that individual became an advocate for my client,” Swanson said. “It was a really powerful and wonderful relationship, because I knew that she was well taken care-of when there really wasn’t any family locally who could advocate for her.”

Beyond the reward of being a resource for clients and their families, Swanson’s involvement has led to others in the group sending her referrals.

“It’s like a large business-development group, almost a referral group. There is no requirement of referring, but rather when the need arises, we have individuals we can contact,” Swanson said.

Whether you are proactively meeting with a client who is making plans for the future, or a client whose needs are more immediate, the process can extend far beyond the in-home care arrangements. Being open to discussing not only aging in place, but making plans in the event of deteriorating health is an area where financial professionals can connect with clients.

Financial professional Laurie Humphrey became engaged in learning more about helping clients on the aging-related topics after a previous Super Women’s Summit where speaker Amy Florian discussed a Five Wishes Document provided by Aging with Dignity.

Humphrey, of Granite Financial in St. Cloud, Minnesota, has firsthand knowledge of preparing for unexpected events. She had entered the business with a long term plan for succession from her mother Pat Hinds. A major medical incident forced them to reconsider that timeline and prepare to move the plan up. While they are both doing great now, that experience reflects in their passion for helping clients plan.

“We took a look at Five Wishes for our clients, and decided that we’d like to do a seminar around that, because we feel that end of life planning life is very, very important,” Humphrey said. “And so we reached out to Aging with Dignity and ordered the Five Wishes document.”

It is important for financial professionals to also understand which documents are applicable in each state they have clients in. Once Humphrey did the research she decided to offer the seminar.

“Aging with Dignity had a DVD that you could buy, and we showed the DVD at the seminar. It’s like 20-25 minutes and the feedback we got from that from clients was they loved it. It was concise, to the point and they got what they needed out of it right away,” said Humphrey. “I think we had 40 or 50 attendees, some whom were guests of households in our practice.”

They made connections from that event with both existing clients and guests who attended, some who were family looking to help in the process.

“After twenty-five years of doing seminars, and with this one I received many responses like, ‘This is the best seminar you’ve ever had for us,’” Hinds said.

The 2015 Super Women’s Summit was the seventh Securities America has held in conjunction with its Connect national conference.