How Modera Wealth Management Advisors Use Caribou: A Conversation with Judson Meinhart

Caribou Team
March 19, 2024

Ever wonder how other financial planning firms use Caribou’s healthcare planning software? Or maybe you want to hear from an advisor, rather than the Caribou team, what the benefits of offering healthcare planning are. We’ve got just the thing for you! 

Our team sat down with Judson Meinhart, Director of Financial Planning & Principal at Modera Wealth Management, to ask him about his and Modera’s experience with healthcare planning thus far. But before we get into how Modera Wealth Management uses healthcare planning, let’s get to know Judd a little better.

Before going into financial planning, Judd worked in the non-profit sector for a decade. He always had an interest in personal finance and was often the “go-to guy” for family, friends, and coworkers who needed financial advice.

“I had an interest in taxes very early on because of my dad’s background as an accountant. When I topped out in the nonprofit sector I was looking for a change, and a friend of mine was in a leadership development program at an advisory firm. It was a small RIA that was part of a CPA firm. He told me about his experience and assured me that it wasn't sales-based, that financial advisory was really about understanding your client's needs and building the technical skills to be in a spot where you can really provide quality fiduciary advice to them. It sounded like a great fit and, fortunately, they were hiring, so three months later I jumped in feet first into a career as a financial planner.”

Modera serves all types of clients, but some of their specialties include business owners, healthcare professionals, people with chronic illness or special needs, surviving spouses, and retirees.

Judd says that despite client demographics and backgrounds, they all share a common theme.

“The common theme that I see in all of our clients is that they value having a partner who has that technical expertise, the confidence in investment management, and can deliver the comprehensive financial planning experience. All our clients see the value in having someone who can help simplify their lives. At Modera, we want to be the first call for anything related to numbers in their lives. Our clients see that and value it.”

This is what drew Modera to Caribou. 

“Like I mentioned before, clients want a trusted partner who can help simplify their lives. Aside from money, healthcare is one of the most complex things that people have in their lives. And it's generally not something that financial advisors are experts in. When we are not experts in something, we look to partner with someone who is. We can read estate planning documents, but we partner with attorneys to draft them. We understand the ins and outs of tax returns, but we partner with CPAs to prepare taxes. Healthcare was one of those pieces where we did not have a trusted partner to whom we could refer clients to get really unbiased fiduciary-type advice. Most of the partners that we looked into also sold the insurance, so we couldn’t really say they were unbiased. I think that's one of the unique aspects of Caribou. Caribou is just there to provide unbiased advice on which plan is in the client's best interest both from a price perspective and a protection and coverage perspective.”

Although all clients benefit from healthcare planning, Judd shared that Caribou’s healthcare planning software has been a major value-add particularly for their retiree clients.

“Medicare is a big transition for clients. A lot of clients have been on an employer's healthcare coverage for 40 years or however long their career has been. As they reach 65, they're being inundated with advertisements for Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Clients might see a brand name that they recognize and think, ‘Oh, well, I recognize that brand name. So this is a good plan.’ And I think it's a great opportunity for us to add value in an unbiased way and cut through all the noise to really show them, ‘Hey this is a plan, based on what you told us you need and the healthcare coverage that would be most suitable to you, that best fits you.’ If clients are retiring before 65, Caribou has also been instrumental in equipping us with the ability to help clients make that decision between taking an employer's COBRA coverage or getting a plan on the Marketplace. It’s also helpful for older clients who might have changing healthcare needs to review their coverage each year to make sure that it’s in line or the most optimal for the changes that they're experiencing.”

In an increasingly competitive landscape, Judd shared that Caribou’s healthcare planning software has also been a game changer for Modera when it comes to prospecting clients. 

“This is part of the reason why we sought out Caribou: financial planning is such an overused term at this point, I feel like in the industry it can mean so many different things. Especially when you say holistic financial planning. At Modera, we truly want to be able to cover all of those domains for clients. And if we're not able to do it, we want to have a trusted partner who we know can do it, especially in an unbiased fashion. Healthcare planning has been a real differentiator because, a lot of times, the triggering event for a prospect to seek out a financial advisor is retirement. A big part of retirement is figuring out what you’re going to do about healthcare coverage. When prospects hear us say ‘‘We can manage your investments for you. We can help you generate income from this portfolio that's going to provide that monthly paycheck. We can help you with Social Security claiming decisions. We can help you with tax-efficient drawdown strategies. We can help you make sure your estate plans are up to date. We can help you make decisions regarding Medicare.’ They realize that we truly do offer it all.”

“It’s been a huge differentiator for us. And having that trusted partner in Caribou allows us to confidently say that we're not just relying on one advisor who's gone through the process themselves and just sharing their own experiences. A lot of clients, their eyebrows raise when we talk about healthcare planning with them. They're like, ‘Well, we didn't know you did that.’  And then, naturally, they think then we're going to sell a policy and we don't sell the policy. When we explain what Caribou does and what we're able to do, it's a big eye-opener for them that we actually offer unbiased healthcare planning, which is fantastic.” 

When asked to share a client story of a time when healthcare planning made a difference not only in a client’s financial plan but also in their life and overall experience as a Modera client, Judd shared a recent story:

“I have a client who was an executive at a large corporation and is in the process of exiting. That on its own is complex, but he and his family are also trying to move states and they have adult children but one is still on their healthcare coverage. So my client is navigating all of that and trying to sell and buy a house, roll over his 401k, all of those types of things. So for me to go to him with Caribou’s healthcare planning software and be able to say, ‘Hey, here's one more thing that we can potentially do for you if you're interested in it,’ is a huge relief for my client. There wasn't even a conversation beyond that. He was like, ‘You can help me make that decision? Yes, please. Do it. I'll do whatever you need me to do to help with that,” because he didn't want to sort through it on his own. He had enough going on in his life. To have an unbiased, third-party partner be able to deliver a good recommendation is huge in that client's life.” 

To wrap things up, when Judd was asked how he would describe healthcare planning and Caribou to other advisors, he had this to say:

“I think it follows a traditional financial planning process of understanding the client first. What their preferences are as far as doctors, what existing conditions we might need to be aware of, what existing prescriptions they have, what their geography is, and how their geography might change if they're planning on moving. Caribou takes care of all of that and formulates and tees up the recommendations for the clients, and provides a really succinct breakdown of coverage options and costs. It's laid out in a very logical way that makes it easy for clients to understand and, even though there are multiple choices, makes the choices pretty clear to the client.”

When it comes to what Judd would say to a financial advisor who’s on the fence about offering healthcare planning to their clients, he said, “Why even be on the fence, right? If there's an opportunity to add value to your clients' lives, you should be doing it. Period. Caribou offers a very elegant solution to do that, where it does not take a huge investment of the advisor's time, other than understanding the process and understanding how to speak to the client and guide them through that process. All the expert, technical-level stuff is taken off the advisor and handled by Caribou. And the result is that clients are happy with you.”

“Anywhere there's complexity in a client's life is an opportunity for an advisor to add value.  When you look at a tax return, there's complexity. When you look at an estate plan, there's complexity. You look at healthcare coverage options, there's complexity.”

To learn more about Judd and Modera Wealth Management check out his LinkedIn here and his firm’s website here.

Want to speak to someone about how you can make sense of the complexity of healthcare? Click here to schedule a meeting.

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