A new program from the Financial Planning Association (FPA) developed by the elder planning specialists at Plan4Life will help advisors brush up on the ways to best assist their older clients.
Failing to do so could leave reps without access “to the fastest growing, most profitable segment of the market,” according to Plan4Life co-founder Bob Mauterstock.
The Elder Planning Specialist Program is a 10-week online program created by Mauterstock and Plan4Life co-founder AnnaLee Kruger. The course will unfold in group settings, with the first cohort of applicants set to begin in late March.
Both Plan4Life and the program originated in a meeting between Mauterstock and Kruger during a conference several years ago. In an interview with WealthManagement.com, Mauterstock said the duo began the organization based on their anxieties about advisors’ paltry knowledge in issues unique to elderly investors.
“We’ve all been well trained to help our clients get to retirement, but what happens after that?” he asked. “What happens with them, and the things they have to face as they deal with the issues of getting older?”
After starting Plan4Life, Kruger and Mauterstock held face-to-face courses for several years, individually working with advisors. They later connected with Salem State University to bring the program online, but the partnership with FPA offers the first opportunity to scale the number of applicants in a dramatic way.
Each of the program’s 10 weeks focuses on a specific aspect of elder planning, with planners taking part needing to commit five hours per week to the program. The full 10-week program includes sessions on the legal issues relating to aging, Social Security and Medicare planning, approaches to plan for extended or long-term care and how to best structure and draft family meetings related to wills, among other sections.
The program’s self-paced, but everyone in a given cohort has to complete all the requirements for each section in one week’s time through FPA’s online learning platform. According to the FPA, the weekly sessions will incorporate real-life case studies, as well as lectures and live discussions with elder planning experts, as well as additional resources and a draft marketing plan to attract potential clients. It will include weekly quizzes, as well as a final exam.
Regulators consistently warn advisors to be on the lookout for instances of fraud and scam artists targeting elderly investors, but nearly six out of 10 state-registered advisors don’t have policies in place to help them identify and protect seniors from “financial exploitation,” according to a fall 2021 analysis by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).
Mautersotck affirmed that elder clients are especially at risk from scam artists, and believed the course can help advisors flag some of the telltale signs of fraud.
“Billions of dollars each year are lost by elderly clients because of these situations,” he said. “We as advisors have to protect them.”
The program is available for FPA members at $1,195, while nonmembers can join for $1,495.
Participants will receive a certificate after finishing the course and the program also counts towards ten CFP continuing education credits.