Retirement communities and financial planners: historically the two have not gone hand in hand. But a push for working together, rather than separately when planning for long term care—and paying for it—could work to break down the walls that have existed in the past.
“[Twenty years ago] you never heard of a financial planner being a part of the decision making process,” says Justine Vogel, executive director of continuing care retirement community Exeter at Riverwoods. “Now, it’s as many as one in three or one in four people who are including their financial planner in the process.”
Exeter at Riverwoods, a Type A CCRC based in Exeter, New Hampshire began with one educational meeting with financial planners about a year ago and has since run more than a dozen more.
“Every time we talk to a group, we realize they are hungry for information about this option,” Vogel says. “They want to be a real advisor, and to do that, they need to better understand what this industry is. They may have had a client go into a CCRC, and they think that is [the only thing] a CCRC is. But the reality is, there are three contract types and good, standard ways to evaluate a CCRC.”
Not all financial planners know the ins and outs of the CCRC model.
“I think the financial services industry sometimes does a terrible job of being able to serve families planning around a CCRC decision, usually due to the sheer unfamiliarity with the concepts,” says Tom West, a financial advisor with Signature Estate & Investment Advisors. “More broadly, the financial services industry is under-prepared for helping families steward money during a long term period of care, and I expect the industry to be brought more to task for this shortcoming in the future.”
Many financial advisors may be unaware or even misinformed about how to advise families facing current long-term care situations, he says, but that needs to change—including when planning for the future.
“The financial industry is still adjusting to concepts more familiar to the CCRC and caregiving industry. Consider the unanticipated increase on life expectancies and the impact on long term care insurance,” West says. “Similarly, the variable of deducting long term care expenses is rarely planned for in advance.”
The walls between financial planners and CCRCs may be slowly coming down, with a shift toward more education among planners and the impetus on CCRC management and associations to get the word across to them.
“We are are finding the wall appears to be coming down based on conversations we are having,” says Brad Breeding, president of CCRC database LifeSite Logics and a Certified Financial Planner. “It seems like historically there has been a wall between retirement communities, especially entry fee models, and financial advisors. A lot of the communities have had somewhat less-than-favorable views of advisors because the advisors could kill the sale. And the advisor doesn’t want asset they are managing to go out the door.”
But lines of communication are expanding between the communities and planners as they are realizing a common goal: to provide a solution for an aging population of baby boomers that can benefit financially from the different CCRC models available, rather than waiting until a needs-based solution becomes more pressing.
“Both sides can benefit each other,” Breeding says.”One of the major objections from the prospective resident is: we don’t know if we can afford it. To have an objective and knowledgeable financial advisor to refer the resident is a very valuable thing.”
So far, financial planners are showing a positive response, says Vogel, and are learning more about the product and how it can benefit clients.
“There’s a misconception that there’s only one type of CCRC,” she says. “There’s a lack of understanding that most Type A or Type B CCRCs are non profits…it’s our industry’s responsibility to tell them we are a product for them to consider.”
CCRCs should have a role in educating consumers as well, according to West:
“If CCRCs provide residents with leading questions about finances to take to their advisors, the advisors in turn would be less likely to make mistakes in their professional counsel. The CCRCs would be conceptually leading the advisor and resident to water with questions like ‘do you have a plan to get the most benefit from the tax deduction associated with this Lifecare Contact deposit?’ or ‘have you considered how you would afford increased expenses if you need Assisted Living Under this Type C contract? That’s an area to get better outcomes.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker