How Technology Benefits Retirement Planning
It’s never more evident than when you talk to kids growing up today. Younger generations take for granted easy access to information that can still seem like magic for anyone who remembers a rotary telephone. I appreciate the convenience it adds to my life while trying to make sure it doesn’t run my life.
Technology is a blessing and a curse at the same time. While almost everything we need is instantly accessible it also means we are always connected and rarely have full privacy unless we just walk away from it. Most of us are not likely to adopt the use of technology like current teenagers have but we are all using it to enhance life and broaden our scope of understanding on certain subjects.
I started in this business at the very beginning of the evolution. Digital processing eliminated stacks of paper and file cabinets. Everything got smaller and faster, resulting in cost reductions and simpler transactions. I’ve seen both sides of it and have to say that the new way of doing business is not only more convenient but also much more effective.
In my opinion, the two greatest benefits of this new age of communication are information and time. An answer to any question you have is immediately available and takes much less effort to find what you need. What before required you to have full trust in an individual is possible now if you trust yourself to make decisions and sort through all that’s available.
I started this website because I had questions about some products a wholesaler wanted me to sell. I did some research and crunched some numbers to figure out which parts were worthwhile and which were not. I came to some interesting conclusions and decided to catalog the results and information. It turned into a website with the primary purpose of documenting the research I was doing. I put an 800 number on it and was actually surprised when someone called with questions.
That’s not at all why I initially did it but over time it has turned into my primary business because a lot of people want a second opinion. And that’s where the information age lends a serious benefit to you. The right answer for you is out there and you can find it from the comfort of your favorite chair with a cup of coffee in hand. You don’t have to believe anyone in a strip mall office. You can do it all yourself without leaving home.
My mentors in this business are a successful group of guys in Missoula, MT who started decades before I did. They know the old way of doing business in the days where information and communication was limited. Automated changes were not embraced but accepted mostly out of necessity. I get it, a required 300 word legal disclaimer at the bottom of every email is somewhat overbearing and a little less personal than a hand-written note on office stationary.
If you walk into the conference room at their office and start asking questions about retirement planning the options they have are somewhat limited. They have a variable annuity from Guardian Life, a couple fixed annuities from Jackson National and from what I’ve recently heard they are now pushing some new structured annuities from Brighthouse (Met Life).
The limited options speak to another problem I have with the industry that relates to captive sales agreements and it’s a separate issue I’ll acknowledge but set aside. But they are not unlike most other professionals you are likely to meet who claim to have the best options and ideas when in reality what they have is limited to what a broker/dealer or marketing organization tells them to sell. The science of asset distribution is still very new and many agents are recommending what’s easy rather than stepping out of a comfort zone to see if more is possible. Technology has allowed me to take ideas from an insurance company board room and apply new strategies to the products based on traditional fundamentals.
It’s understandable that my age comes up a lot in meetings. I’m younger than all of you so it’s common for someone to question my experience. My typical response is to remind anyone who asks that the 60 year old agent wants to retire as well and won’t be around when you really need him. Aside from that I reminded someone this week that in terms of the information age I’m really old because I’ve been on the edge of it since the beginning. My learning curve was steeper because more information came available every day. I consumed it and continue to do so.
Pressure to compete against other agents and proposals, along with access to a significant amount of information has allowed me to not only find best products but also the new strategies and ideas that work. I urge you to not take that for granted and suggest you leverage my experience for your benefit.
Anyone who talked to me this week knows that I stumbled upon a really good idea. After doing some simulations to validate the strategy I shared it with a few people who I thought could benefit specifically. It’s a rough idea that hasn’t been polished into actual advice yet but I was able to share it right away with people all over the country. It’s one more step in the evolution of retirement science and when the next one comes I’ll be ready.
Stay flexible so you can take advantage of that as well… have a great weekend!