The American College finds comprehensive retirement planning is improving confidence, security

The American College finds comprehensive retirement planning is improving confidence, security

5,000 Financial Advisors Have Earned RICP® Certification; Survey of Retirement Advisors Finds 98% Are Now Better Serving Their Clients

BRYN MAWR, Pa., April 11, 2018 -- This year, The American College of Financial Services reached a total of 5,000 advisors who have earned the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation since its launch. The milestone underscores The American College's understanding of the need for comprehensive, targeted knowledge to support Americans faced with the challenge of retirement income planning. This is of critical importance as the United States is facing unprecedented financial uncertainty – including political tensions, legislative moves, and stock market volatility – and those approaching retirement are wondering if their money is going to be safe.

"The RICP® program sets out to provide advisors with a comprehensive view of retirement income planning so they can deliver better, proven advice across a wide range of areas that will improve outcomes for their clients," said David Littell, Retirement Income Program Co-Director at The American College of Financial Services. "We know that this is important work that can change people's lives for the better, and we are thrilled that so many advisors are furthering their retirement income knowledge."

In the wake of this milestone, The American College polled a panel of RICP® designation holders about the impact of the designation as well as client interests and behaviors. The survey found 98% of advisors said they are better serving their clients now that they hold the RICP®, and 88% said the designation has changed the way they approach retirement income planning. Advisors surveyed felt that the most impactful knowledge they learned from earning the RICP® included a broad understanding of income strategies, comprehensive planning, and Social Security planning.

One advisor wrote, the "RICP® is helping to educate advisors on the 'art side' of financial planning. Most academia seems to focus on the science part of financial services – numbers, probability, calculations – and less on important art components - truly identifying objectives, coordinating benefits, and income management. The transactional and sales responsibilities of growing a practice seem to act as a natural roadblock to diving deeper into the knowledge pool."

When asked what areas of comprehensive retirement income planning they perform that improve clients' financial situations most, the majority of advisors answered: 1) choosing a retirement income strategy; 2) making better Social Security claiming decisions; and 3) ensuring that their plan addresses market volatility.

One advisor commented that, "knowing [his] clients have the confidence to live their lives without worries about outliving their incomes," is what makes him feel good about doing this work.

Advisors were asked to identify the one thing that they would like consumers to know about retirement income planning that they generally do not know. Their answers together provide good counsel for consumers who are beginning to think about retirement and are not sure what is involved in the financial preparations. Their advice revolved around a number of key themes:

  • Consumers underestimate the cost of retirement: There is a misunderstanding of how much people need to save for retirement, and that number is typically much higher than expected.
  • Comprehensive retirement income planning can improve retirement security: A number of key aspects of planning were addressed, including scope, the need to start planning early, and the importance of continuing to plan through retirement.
  • Don't forget about retirement risks: Consumers need a better understanding of retirement risks and ways to address them, including longevity risk, long-term care risk, health expense risk, and inflation risk.
  • Key planning strategies: Consumers should know more about specific retirement strategies – such as Social Security claiming, home equity, and withdrawal strategies – that can have an impact on the success of a retirement income plan.
  • Obtaining advice: Consumers need a better understanding of the importance of getting advice and who they should turn to for advice. Advisors stressed finding an advisor that has the right skills to help them properly.

The RICP® was launched in 2012 and quickly became one of the fastest-growing financial advisor credentials in the 91-year history of The American College. The program consists of three in-depth college-level courses covering topics central to any retirement income plan: Retirement Income Process, Strategies, and Solutions; Sources of Retirement Income; and Managing the Retirement Income Plan. Professionals taking the program come from all segments of the financial services profession, including brokerage houses, independent advisors, wealth managers, and financial planners.

Advisors can learn more about the RICP® program by visiting TheAmericanCollege.edu/RICP, while consumers can learn about this credential and find a financial services professional in their area that has the RICP® designation at DesignationCheck.com™.

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About The American College of Financial Services

The American College of Financial Services was founded in 1927 and is the nation's largest non-profit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has educated one in five financial advisors across the United States and offers prestigious financial planning designations such as the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®), Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and education leading to the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) certification. The College's faculty represents some of the foremost thought leaders of the financial services profession. For more information, visit TheAmericanCollege.edu.

About The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income

The American College New York Life Center for Retirement Income serves to elevate the knowledge of financial service professionals in order to improve retirement security for Americans. It provides a website for advisors and supports the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation, which educates financial advisors to help prepare the 76 million Baby Boomers and millions of older retirees who are concerned about the safety of their retirement income plans. To learn more about the New York Life Center for Retirement Income, go to http://retirement.theamericancollege.edu.