Robert Young III, head of PRO Financial, a PlanMember Financial Center in Glendale, AZ, shares his enthusiasm for The Retirement Analysis Kit (TRAK) retirement planning software.
In his words, "TRAK’s just really embedded in our business and in our industry, they’re a big supporter of our industry, but they really understand what we’re trying to achieve in the 457, 403(b) market ... The client’s love [TRAK] but they love the fact that you give them the data that they’re looking for.”
Robert Young, I own PRO Financial Investment Coaching in Glendale, Arizona, member of Plan Member Financial Center. I’ve been with Plan Member for about 8 ½ years, we opened the financial center 3 years ago, expanded already once in our office building. And we service K-12 plans, a lot of private clients as well. Probably 60-70% of our stuff comes from the K-12, or higher ed. market.
WHAT DOES YOUR AVERAGE CLIENT LOOK LIKE?
Average client is about, how specific do you want me to be? Average client is about forty, mid-forties. Average client, which is interesting, has at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree, a lot of PhDs and a lot of them have, about 50-60% of them have a pension one way or another- either the wife or the husband does. Have a number of them who both have pensions, and a lot of them are saving in IRAs, 403(b)s, 401(k)s. But basically what they’re doing, typically, the overwhelming majority of them already have an advisor that they’re working with. What’s interesting is when they come to us and we sit down and we talk to them about the first thing we need to do before we even start talking about investments or what products you’re going to buy, is we need to set up a plan. And I always say that there are two sides to our business. So there’s the retirement plan, and then there’s the investments or whatever products might need to go along with that. So I always, kind of the analogy I would make is you go to the doctor you’re not going to just buy medicine from them, you’re going to get a diagnosis made to make sure, maybe you have indigestion, you’re not having a heart attack – right? When the clients come to us, it’s fascinating to see how many of them, even with significant amounts of money, so called sophisticated investors, they’ve never had a plan done! So they don’t know if they are over saving, under saving, how their allocation should be. And that’s where a number of years back we started using TRAK software. And it really changed what we do, dramatically changed our clients. It’s kind of funny, cause I’ve had clients come in, and they’ll see the red at the end, showing there is going to be a shortfall when they’re 74 years old, and we work with them for a year or two, we talk about some things that we need to do, whether it might mean paying down their debt. It might be adding a little more each year, could be their allocation or a combination right- Social security strategies, which we can do all through the TRAK software – which is great. And we can illustrate it because so many people are visual. And they’ll come in a year later or two years, three years later and we show it to them, because we put it up on a big 50 inch screen, and they go “oh – we got rid of the red”. I mean they’re really like “hey, I want to get rid of the red”, or what if I live to 95, what if I live to 105, is there any red. So they’re actively engaged in the software. The visual is very, very impactful.
HOW VALUABLE IS CLIENT ENGAGEMENT TO YOU?
It’s invaluable, not only from the point of getting the client, so getting a prospect to become a client. But more importantly, every time when we do a review, we don’t necessarily review the investments, because we’re not going to change the investments for the most part. We have an investment advisory firm that is managing those dollars. What’s changed is their life. So what life changes happened - we’re getting closer to retirement, there was a death, an inheritance, a divorce, kids moved out, no more college, house is paid off. So it’s more about, we really focus on the software as the centerpiece of what’s going on in their lifestyle. Yes, I can show them a copy of here’s what you have, here’s what you don’t have. These days people can look at the website and see oh yeah, my account went up or it went down. But the point is, are the investments tracking to what the plan says. Not is the plan tracking to what the investments are. That’s the cart before the horse or the medicine before the diagnosis.
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE TRAK AGAINST OTHER SOFTWARE TOOLS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU?
Well I think, number 1, the service and support that we get has always been very good. TRAK has been very responsive to 2 things, 1 it’s software, there can be glitches, they update very quickly. They are also very responsive to requests. Hey, what if you could add this, what if you could add this. So they are always responsive with, here are some ways we can enhance it. That was the biggest thing. Some other software’s that I looked at also were not as specific to our industry, or they didn’t cover as many pensions. They didn’t have as much; the graphics maybe weren’t quite as clear. But I think the biggest thing is that I feel like TRAK is really embedded in our business, in our industry, they are a big supporter of our industry, but they really understand what we are trying to achieve in the 457, 403(b) market. I think it’s very important - and 401(k), because we do have some advisors who have 401(k) assets. And we use it for that in the exact same manner as we would any other qualified plan or individual investor.
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL OTHER ADVISORS ABOUT TRAK?
Well, I would say, if their question is should I try it? My suggestion would be absolutely, and I have. Not only have I suggested it to our Broker/Dealer, I’m not saying they adopted it because of me, I suggested it to them when they were looking for planning software a number of years ago, cause they were using a system, that, quite frankly, was far inferior and I didn’t even use it, I was using the TRAK software and a number of us were. We kept saying this is something you need to look at, this is something you need to look at and when they finally incorporated it, it was life changing. Now, I would tell you that other advisors that are in our same Broker/Dealer that I talk to, have access to this, and it’s interesting because some of them weren’t utilizing it. We make it mandatory, our advisors, we have four advisors, with a fifth one in training right now, and it’s not an option. You meet with a client, a new client, they come on- I want to see, I want to see the TRAK software, I want to see the plan before you recommend the investment. Period. Cause what do you have to back yourself up to say I just thought this was a good idea at the time, or look, here’s their plan, here’s their age, here’s their life span, and here’s their assets. We’re very process, people process and procedural oriented, and this is just part of our process. Absolutely.
WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT TRAK REPORTS?
I think the key to this thing is this, it’s one thing to teach, I'm going to back up a little...the clients love it, but they love the fact that you give them the data that they’re looking for. So TRAK can be a hundred pages worth of data that’s meaningless to the client or it’s just over their head. So one of the things we really focus on with the advisors is teaching the advisors which slides they should show the client, not because we are hiding anything, reason we try to do it is there are certain illustrations in there that they’re gonna get, it’s going to click, it’s going to say oh gosh I need to do this, I need to move you or you’re doing a good job with me so they’re going to be very effective. And then when we’re done, what we do is we change to the PDF version of it and we send a secure email to the client, and they get that. They can open it up. The nice thing about it they can open it up in their file anytime they want they want to look at it and the next time we meet we can just send them an updated one and get rid of the old one. And it’s just so much more interactive that way.
HOW HAS TRAK IMPACTED YOUR SALES?
There’s no way we’ve ever tracked it directly so I couldn’t say we added this to it- so it’s meant exactly this to the bottom line. What it’s done is I think it’s made us a legitimate retirement planning agency. And I also think the biggest difference with it– we are able to get a lot more assets, because I can’t put your information into our software and tell you if you have enough money unless I have all your accounts. I know everybody says they get all the accounts. But we generally get all the accounts, at least we get the information and we have the opportunity to say “Hey, I know you have this X account with XYZ, by the way, looking at this why don’t we look at reallocating it . So it helps us gather assets, it really does. And it helps us, a lot of clients like the fact they can come to one person and get all their answers on their finances. But if you just don’t know about the account, how are you going to do that? Well TRAK allows us to ask for all that data so we can put it in there. And I have literally had a client, when we got done and there were all red bars showing they were going to have a shortfall toward the end, and he said well what if you added in my XYZ account that they didn’t tell you about, and I said “well that will probably help” and the next thing you know, a lot of the red went away. And after that, I also got that other account, by the way. After that I started realizing we needed to develop a way to get that up front. So we developed what we call a confidential client profile that we email to the client that asks for that data, and it’s PDF fillable, and it asks for all the data that we need to input to TRAK and it makes it easier for advisors. Everybody gets that emailed to them and they send that information back or print it and bring it with them when they come in. And we are easily able to enter that data and our second appointment, we have it all loaded into the software and we are ready for them to see. It is a great visual.