A while back an agent of mine was calling out to confirm social security seminar attendees from a marketing campaign that we conducted for him. At the time, he had around 20 registrants and was calling out to these prospects to confirm their attendance for the upcoming seminar. While he was doing this, he sent me a text message that said, “I have feedback on the calls that I have been making and observations, if you would like to hear them?” Although it sounded somewhat ominous to me I said, “Of course.” Later that day he called me. As I picked up the phone, I must admit that I was somewhat cringing because, again, his previous text sounded ominous. I was hoping that his feedback was not outside of the normal observations that I and my numerous other agents have experienced. I thought, “Maybe his geographic area does not care about Social Security” or, “I wonder if he is not able to get a hold of the registrants and he is unhappy.” Etc. So I was dying to hear his feedback.
When our phone conversation turned to the seminar and his call outs, he went into what his observations were. He said in a surprised voice, “I am amazed that almost everybody I spoke to did not treat me like a cold caller, but rather they were actually looking forward to the seminar because they want to learn more about Social Security!” He also said that many of the consumers had questions for him on their particular situation while he was on the phone with them. He had to tell them, “We are going to cover that in the seminar.”
When he was done giving me his feedback on his first experience with Social Security seminars, I breathed a sigh of relief and told him what I will tell the readers of this column: Consumers are passionate about learning more about their Social Security. This is because there are very few credible places for them to go to get feedback/advice on their Social Security.
To me, one of the greatest ironies about the financial services business is the fact that Social Security is not a large part of our industry’s education apparatus. To demonstrate, If I were to pile up the books that I had to read in order to get my CLU® designation, CHFC® designation, CFP® designation, my life insurance license, my Finra Series 7 license, and also my Finra Series 66, it would be a stack probably two to three feet high. However, the total pages in all of those books that are dedicated to teaching us—the financial professional—about Social Security would probably amount to not much more than 100 pages, if that. There is no exaggeration in that statement.
This is ironic because Social Security represents the largest asset for many of the folks that we work with. As many know, over a couple’s lifetime, it is not uncommon to get $1 million in Social Security payments.
So you have an asset that is the largest asset that many households have, while at the same time it is one of the most complex assets that they have. And our industry has not educated these consumers on how to maximize that asset. That is ironic.
The good news is, that irony also represents opportunity for those financial professionals that wish to take advantage of it. As I laid out in the first paragraph, the opportunity is not some theoretical conclusion that I arrived at but rather a true need that these consumers have. I hear the questions from consumers everyday and I see the results from agents helping consumers with Social Security everyday. It is a huge need that you can help these consumers with and also make a great living with if you make sure you do a few things:
- Learn Social Security: It is complex but it is worth the trouble, I promise.
- Plug into a program that will get you in front of those consumers that need help and are qualified prospects. (Note: You do not have to spend $4,000, $5,000, $6,000 to get in front of 20+ people in a seminar room!)
- If you are not comfortable in front of people, get a mentor/partner that will do the seminars for you and also teach you how to do them.
- Use the right tools/software to help you with the backend implementation of the consumers’ Social Security maximization. Once the seminar is done, you need to help the attendees. How do you do it? By having the right tools and the right knowledge.
- Partner with an IMO that will help you, guide you, and mentor you on all of the above, from getting you in front of prospects all the way through joint Zoom calls with the prospects after the seminar.
One misperception that I hear a lot is, “But people that attend Social Security Seminars usually are not very affluent and therefore not an ideal client of mine.” I beg to differ. Of course socioeconomic factors are also a function of the profiling you conducted in your target marketing, but my experience says that if you have a room of 20 attendees that want to hear about Social Security, a few of them in the room will actually be millionaires.
Another misperception I hear about Social Security seminars is, “There is no way for an agent to make money when helping with Social Security optimization.” There are indeed ways to make a significant amount of money by helping consumers with Social Security. Afterall, much of maximizing Social Security from an after tax standpoint has to do with other assets that the client plans to draw from in retirement. Coordination between Social Security and those assets is of paramount importance. And those other assets are where the opportunity lies for financial professionals. And I would argue that if a consumer is given a choice on who to manage the assets between, a) ABC Brokerage Firm that doesn’t even know how to spell Social Security, and, b) a financial professional that just showed them how to get an additional $200k in Social Security benefits over their projected lifetime, that consumer will choose “b” almost every time.