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Advisor SunLife


Discover new wealth opportunities for your clients

Advisors can offer a broader array of wealth solutions to their clients when working with a financial services company specializing in both wealth and insurance.

By: DAVID ISRAELSON

Date: August 31, 2017

For financial advisors looking to provide better service to their clients, connecting with financial services companies that specialize in both wealth and insurance solutions can give them that extra edge.

Financial services companies can help advisors look at the bigger picture, says Kirk McMillan, regional vice president, wealth sales, Sun Life Financial.

"Partnering with a financial services company that specializes in both wealth and insurance products enables advisors to offer a broader array of solutions and services to support clients' needs," he says.

Clients may have a variety of wealth products, from mutual funds to annuities to guaranteed investment certificates (GICs). They may also have life and health insurance policies, some of which may have cash value, notes Mr. McMillan. A trusted advisor who works with a financial services company can help clients make better sense of what they hold, and how all these products can work together as part of a tax-efficient, goal-based financial and retirement plan.

"At Sun Life, managing risk is part of our DNA," Mr. McMillan highlights. "We've got a strong history of evaluating possible risks and economic scenarios which has been a key factor in our success as an insurance company. Our DNA drives us to assess a full range of risks beyond volatility, including longevity, inflation and health. When a financial services company specializes in both protection and wealth solutions, like Sun Life Financial, this risk management approach can benefit both sides of the business."

Sandra Foster, financial author and president of Headspring Consulting Inc. in Toronto, agrees that working with an insurance company can be advantageous to both wealth-focused advisors and their clients.

Ms. Foster explains, "A financial advisor will discuss clients' personal estate planning, the needs of their family and perhaps even their philanthropic wishes.". "Insurance companies offer products that can assist clients with specific estate-planning needs."

Insurance companies have long and specialized expertise in solutions that provide specific direction for estate planning and legacy. They can also be instrumental in creating a retirement income stream for clients. Annuities and segregated fund contracts can help manage income and investment needs throughout retirement, says Mr. McMillan.

"Family situations are more complex than 20 or more years ago," he says. "Building a comprehensive retirement and estate plan, including wealth and insurance products, could be the edge advisors are looking for when building trusting relationships with clients."

Looking at the big picture for clients is arguably more important than ever because the nature of retirement has changed and preparing for retirement has changed too. Defined benefit pension plans are becoming less common and today, saving for retirement is a responsibility shouldered mostly by the individual.

Statistics Canada noted in 2014 that the "emphasis on longer-term savings products has propelled the demand for financial planning and wealth management."

In the current low-interest rate environment, it's harder to get satisfactory returns with fixed-term investments, forcing clients to continue to be invested in the market.

"Twenty years ago, families in this country were more likely to put their savings into personal deposits and fixed-term investments," Mr. McMillan explains. "Now, they're demanding more retirement products and other financial investments - including mutual funds – that can provide growth, with added risk."

Because Canadians are living longer, they have an increased risk of outliving their money. Advisors have more opportunity to offer solutions that provide lifetime guaranteed income, like life annuities and segregated fund contracts.

"Helping clients build their financial well-being is important, but helping them protect that well-being while meeting life-stage goals is key - a benefit financial services companies with both wealth and insurance solutions can uniquely offer," says Mr. McMillan.

A good advisor will ask clients a lot of questions - and listen.

Mr. McMillan elaborates, "Going through the planning process includes projecting how much retirement income clients will receive based on their current assets and savings plans, and reviewing the solutions they have in place to cover broader risk aspects."

Regardless of clients' current investments and insurance, it's important to help them understand what's available and how these various solutions can work together to accommodate their needs, he says.

"This process is foundational to having a robust conversation with clients. It gives advisors the ability to educate and inform, while ensuring clients are fully engaged and vested in the process."

A comprehensive approach to planning can help clients rest assured they're covering all the bases when it comes to their financial future, including investments, insurance, cash flow management, retirement planning and estate planning.

"All of these elements need to work together as part of an overall plan," says Mr. McMillan. "If they're working independently of each other, the advisor may not be on track to helping clients reach their lifestyle and financial goals."

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