Standing Out From Competitors: Three Ways Advisors Can Offer Healthcare Planning

Christine Simone
June 21, 2024

The financial planning profession is on the rise, which means that now more than ever, advisors need to find ways to stand out from competitors. 

In May 2024, SmartAsset released a report revealing the latest data on advisor income and employment in the U.S. Two key findings I found especially interesting were:

  • Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has the most advisors per capita, with 5.5 advisors for every 1,000 working residents.
  • The areas that saw the highest year-over-year increases in the number of advisors were mostly in the Northeast.
    • 1. Winchester, Virginia-West Virginia, with a 98.7% increase in advisors.
    • 2. Bismarck, North Dakota, with a 77.4% increase in advisors.
    • 3. Portland-South Portland, Maine, with a 75.2% increase in advisors.
    • 4. Las Cruces, New Mexico, with a 69.7% increase in advisors.
    • 5. Wilmington, North Carolina, with a 56% increase in advisors.

With limited time and resources, what can financial advisors do to stand out from other advisors, especially as more people join the financial planning profession? To answer that, we have to look at client expectations.

Client Expectations

40% of survey respondents reported they're looking for insurance advice as a product/service beyond core investment management, and one study found that 65% of financial planning clients expect to receive health insurance advice from their advisors.

Additionally, a survey of ultra-high-net-worth individuals revealed that 89% of them prefer receiving value-add services from a single source, and 46% of high-net-worth investors revealed in a survey that they planned to change wealth management providers or add new wealth management relationships in the next 12 to 24 months, or both. And over the past three years, 39% of those same respondents said they had already switched and/or established an additional relationship.  One of the top three reasons these clients switch? They want access to different products and services. Many of the respondents said they were looking for “wealth management adjacent services”, like healthcare planning.

Clients expect healthcare planning from their financial advisors, so how can you start incorporating this into your comprehensive financial planning services to beat out the competition? 

It all starts with looking at client demographics and their Life Events; it’s a great way to easily identify and naturally work healthcare planning into your services and conversations.

Life Events

Changes in employment status

This is one of the most common Life Event financial advisors can use to naturally incorporate healthcare planning into their services and client meetings. 

Retirement, a career change, a promotion, starting a new business, selling your business, and even moving from a full-time job to a part-time job (or vice versa) are all events that impact clients’ income — and therefore are changes they’ll want to discuss with you to adjust their financial plan. This is also an easy one to use for healthcare planning conversations because most Americans get their healthcare coverage through their employer, so odds are that a change to a client’s health insurance is a topic already on their mind. While discussing their change in employment status, here are some questions you can ask your client:

  • Did you have health insurance through your employer?
  • Will you be able to enroll in health insurance through this new employer?
  • (If retiring before 65) Have you thought about how you’ll receive health insurance from now until you turn 65? Let’s talk about some options.
  • (If retiring after 65) Congratulations on retiring! Have you thought about your Medicare options? Let’s discuss it.
  • Does your ex-employer offer any health benefits to retirees?
  • Does your employer qualify for COBRA coverage, and if so, will they subsidize any of its cost for you?

Moving or purchasing another home

Moving states or purchasing a second (or even third!) home in a different state will necessitate a reconsideration of healthcare coverage. 

Why? 

If your client plans to spend more time in this additional home, it might be worthwhile to make that home their primary address for health insurance. Especially if they have a Marketplace plan. 

Let’s say that their primary address is in Texas, but they’ve bought a second home in California and plan to spend most of their time there. You can ask your client about their healthcare needs and preferences, and from there determine which state’s health insurance options would best meet their healthcare needs and budget. For example, let’s say your client is a pre-65 retiree and needs health insurance coverage through a Marketplace plan. They’re flexible on cost and are open to getting their coverage through either the federal exchange (Texas doesn’t have its own Marketplace) or Covered California (California’s Marketplace), but they want a PPO plan. Well, there are no PPO plans in Texas through the Marketplace. So your client would want to change their primary address to their California address and enroll in that state’s Marketplace. 

You wouldn’t want the client to make this decision in a silo, without considering the tax implications of changing their primary residence, which is a prime example of why healthcare planning is an important discussion to be having with a financial advisor!

Changes in their family or their marital status.

Having a baby, gaining a dependent through adoption, losing a dependent because they’ve reached the age of 26, getting married, getting divorced, and becoming widowed are all major Life Events that will have an impact not only on a client’s personal life but also on their financial plans, and their healthcare needs and coverage options too. This Life Event is similar to the “change in employment status” one because both prompt clients to already be thinking about their healthcare coverage and needs. 

For clients who are gaining a dependent (through pregnancy or adoption), it’s worth mentioning that if their employer-sponsored health coverage options for an additional dependent are more expensive than they’d like, or the pediatrician they want to visit isn’t in-network, they do have other options to explore. If your client has a child aging off their family health insurance plan, or starting work or school in a different state, you can help their dependent determine which health plan option will best fit their needs, and analyze the options available to the client, too. This is a great way to start to build your relationship with the next generation — especially important given the generational transfer of wealth that we’re undergoing. It’s really easy to filter your CRM for clients’ children turning 26 to identify this life event, or listen for clients talking about their children going off to school - a popular topic as we head into the summer months! Similarly, for clients who are experiencing a change in their marital status, a conversation about healthcare options is an important part of the updates to their financial plan.

Final Thoughts

With the financial planning profession gaining in popularity in many areas of the U.S., advisors will need to find unique ways to attract and retain clients. Doing so doesn’t have to be complicated though. Meeting client expectations is a must for attracting and retaining clients, but choosing an expectation and need that is still going mostly unmet is how you really beat out the competition. 

Remember the stat I shared earlier about 65% of financial planning clients expecting healthcare planning advice from advisors? Well, that same survey revealed that only 4% of those same clients reported actually receiving healthcare planning advice. Additionally, the 2024 T3 Survey reported that healthcare planning is an early-emerging area of advice, which is why the market penetration for the entire category is just 5.79%. It won’t stay this way forever though. Just as estate planning exploded from 2021 to 2024 (4.49% to 39.32% market adoption), so will healthcare planning.

What I’m getting at is that client demand for healthcare planning is high, but advisor delivery is low. Now is the time to start offering this highly sought-after service — doing so might just be the key differentiator that makes a client choose you over a competitor.

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