After twenty years in healthcare, I formed Retirement Planning Strategies in 2000. I provide full retirement planning services. My clients are federal employees who use the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan, which operates under the same rules as 401(k) plans, with the same maximum deductions and contributions. My clients use a federal defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan, which is their savings plan.
In starting my practice, I committed to serving the federal employee retirement market as my niche. The federal government is the biggest employer in the country and its employees mirror the country's bulging boomer market, where the employees are taking a much harder look at how they will land in retirement.
On the other hand, federal benefits are different from private sector benefits. The federal government has retirement calculators, but they only convey information about the government's plans — not the varied particulars about a specific person's financial status that governs retirement strategy.
Although I developed a very effective prospecting plan, there was a void. I quickly saw that I needed a clear way to illustrate to my clients how a variety of small changes in their retirement planning would yield big results for them in retirement. Without that, it was difficult for them to see the need for products like life insurance and long-term care since they could not easily see where they fit in their evolving financial situation.
And although my practice was growing, something was missing. There was a missing element in my presentations that stretched out my sales process.
I needed a way to graphically illustrate the rationale to back up my investment recommendations on the spot — while I was with my clients.
I bought TRAK right after I saw it at the 2005 Million Dollar Round Table annual convension in New Orleans and it had a positive impact on my practice right away.
My clients tell me that the TRAK "retirement years report graph" helps them make decisions more quickly about their investment choices, how much they are saving currently and which vehicles they save in.
I use TRAK to show my clients how long their projected savings will last in retirement. The software allows us to see if they will be OK or if there are gaps requiring them to make dramatic adjustments in their investment choices or savings habits.
I make other recommendations; perhaps for life insurance or long-term care, which some of my clients say they do not need because they feel their assets will allow them to pay for care.
Then I use TRAK to show them how rapidly uninsured events can deplete their savings from $500,000 down to $50,000, and quickly the question of how long that remaining $50,000 will go over twenty years hits home and frequently drives our conversation toward long-term care and insurance.
TRAK helps when people are being too conservative in their investments, too. If their investments are yielding only 4 ½ percent, I use TRAK to help the quickly show them what a 6 ½ percent return could do and we make changes in their investments.
TRAK also allows me to show my clients saving scenarios — for example, that saving 15% instead of 10% may mean another $100 a month when they are in retirement. The point is that TRAK enables them to see something they would not be able to get to on their own.
The feds have other calculators, but they just show people information — people still don't know what the information means to them. TRAK allows you to put all the pieces together so you can quickly show your clients what inflation might do, what difference changing interest rates and change contribution rates might make turns information so they can really see.
Being able to help my clients take such a vivid visual look at their finances and investments speeds up my clients' comfort level in making decisions while I am with them.
With TRAK, clients get such a clear sense of where they need to make changes. That gives my recommendations a relevancy and immediacy that to help them make the changes.
Better illustration software like TRAK helps you make a better impression which helps you get at their other money. But it does not dim my philosophy that I am building real long-term relationships.
After just a year on TRAK, I had put 120 people thru TRAK software presentations. Approximately 100 of them became long-term clients and moved money under TRAK.
TRAK makes it easier to make presentations and because of that, and the fact that I am always becoming better at what do, my closing ratio has gone up.
New Product Update Note: The new TRAK-Gap Analysis Calculator comes pre-loaded with illustrations for both the Federal Employee Retirement (FERS) plan and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) plan, including calculations for the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) and Catch-62.