'Financial Gerontology' Joins Boomer Advice Army

By Ackermann, Matt | American Banker, October 11, 2005 | Go to article overview

'Financial Gerontology' Joins Boomer Advice Army


Ackermann, Matt, American Banker


An army of advisers, brokers, and wealth managers is lining up to serve the wave of baby boomers expected to retire in the next few years.

Now joining the ranks are a growing number of "financial gerontologists," specialists in facilitating wealth management for retirees. In the past year and a half, 100 people have been registered in the specialty by the American Institute of Financial Gerontology.

John N. Migliaccio, the president of the Deerfield Beach, Fla., institute, said financial gerontology examines "the intersection of aging and money."

"This is not the study of old money," he said. "This is the study of how people need to manage money now, and for their future, and their children and their grandchildren. There is a whole host of issues that comes along with aging and finances."

But just what is a financial gerontologist? Industry observers and spokesmen at seven of 10 large banks said they do not know.

Mr. Migliaccio says a financial gerontologist uses biology, psychology, sociology, and demographics to understand the wealth-span issues and aspirations of people who are aging and their families -- a description that may do little to clarify the picture.

Maureen Mohyde, who has been a gerontologist at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. for 12 years -- and a financial gerontologist for six -- said the latter designation denotes the study of aging and how financial concerns affect people as they grow older. She said she applies what she knows about financial services and the aging population to help Hartford reach out to its older customers with appropriate solutions.

For example, she has used her expertise as a financial gerontologist to train people in Hartford's call centers to work better with aging customers.

"The people we have in the call centers tend to skew younger, and the annuity buyers are older," she said. "We are working to help the older people and younger people to understand each other."

A high percentage of people older than 50 have hearing impairments, for example, she said. So she combed through the sales script to flag words that are hard for people with impaired hearing to make out.

"By keeping the sentences short and concise we have a greater chance for success," Ms. Mohyde said. "If there is less frustration, there is a better chance to have a long-term relationship."

Thomas W. Hines, a senior vice president at Northern Trust Co. …

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