By: Mark Milbrod, CLU, CLTC, Vice President, ASG

When I think of the clients that we serve, this quote from Vince Lombardi comes to mind and is so powerful.

The journey to the top of the mountain for someone’s financial security is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and planning to reach that peak. But what is the next step?

The trek down from the top is typically much harder. Even more precise planning is needed to get back down to earth safely. The obstacles faced on that return trip can often prove to be disastrous. Ask any climbing crew that has scaled to the peak of Mt. Everest.

The same can be said for the retirement aspirations of our clients. They have worked their entire lives to “reach the peak” so that they can be financially secure when they retire. Countless work hours, personal struggles and unforeseen obstacles were most certainly faced along the way. It would be a shame if they did not consider that “descent from the mountain top.”

The journey downward (those post retirement years), has its own challenges. They want to make sure that they protect what they have built. We want to assure that they will not run out of money so all that they worked for those years is protected.

For a solid post-retirement plan, we have the ability to build in safeguards for the clients we serve. We have to create the smoothest path possible so that they can safely return from the peak.

Many obstacles come to mind, such as a premature death, an estate liquidity event, a lack of guaranteed income for a husband and wife or the most detrimental obstacle, a long term care event.

We have the power to protect against these types of post-retirement threats. Life insurance can be used to provide needed liquidity in many scenarios. Depending on the client, it can be used to replace lost income from the death of a spouse, cover estate tax liabilities or simply leave a legacy to heirs or a charity if they’re so inclined. All of this can be accomplished through tax-free death benefits.

I know that annuities are a sore subject for many people, mostly due to a lack of education. If used properly, they can provide income that you simply cannot outlive. Many strategies employing Immediate Annuities (SPIA’s), can nicely round out a portfolio.

In addition, there has been a steady uptick in long term rates for Multiple Year Guaranteed Annuities (MYGA’s), that are competing very well against other longer term instruments such as Treasury Bonds. With recent tumultuous markets, these have become safe havens for clients seeking strong guarantees.

When I first started in the business, I was told by veteran agents that I would never understand this business until I had my first death claim. That was and has remained true to this date. After all the years I have been in our industry, I would expand that statement to include a Long-Term Care claim as well. I have experienced personally and through the eyes of many advisors I work with, the impact that an LTC event can have on a “non-protected” retirement plan. It truly is devastating and on that journey down from the peak, is not something you want to experience.

We have many tools and resources to mitigate the financial threats our clients face. The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there. Don’t let him stumble on the way down.