Great-West Financial Group and Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance agents can expect more insights on retirement and longevity to flow their way thanks to a new partnership with Stanford University’s Center on Longevity.
The long-term deal, officially billed as a “collaboration,” was announced this month after more than nine months of scouring the nation for a suitable research partner to dig further into the growing field of longevity, Great-West executives said.
“We are aiming to immediately offer up useful, applicable thought leadership to a host of financial professionals who understand the importance of factoring in longevity when helping clients plan their financial futures,” said Bob Shaw, president of individual markets for Great-West Financial, one of the nation’s largest retirement plan record keepers.
One of the goals of the Great West-Stanford University partnership is to help agents think beyond the traditional financial nuts and bolts of longevity — securing guaranteed income using annuities or retirement strategies, said Stephen Jenks, chief marketing officer for Great-West in Greenwood Village, Colo.
Transition to 'Longevity Advisor'
With thousands of baby boomers retiring every day, more agents and brokers are in the midst of a transition from financial advisor to “longevity advisors,” Jenks said.
Another goal is for Great-West researchers at the company’s Empower Institute to collaborate closely with Stanford University academics. More than 140 Stanford faculty members are affiliated with the Center for Longevity.
Great-West launched Empower Institute in March 2015 to examine investment theories, retirement strategies and assumptions, according to Empower Institute’s website.
"Improved longevity is, at once, among the most remarkable achievements in all of human history and one of our greatest challenges,” said Laura Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, in a news release.
“These added years can be a gift or a burden to humanity depending upon how they are used," she said.
In five years, Jenks said Great-West would like to be able to point to the research partnership’s body of work that made a real difference in the lives of individuals in retirement or entering retirement now and in the future.
Reorientation for a Longer Life
Longevity risks are a major challenge for advisors as clients grow older and exceed life spans expected of them in actuarial tables.
Traditionally, advisors managed clients’ income by suggesting when it was best to take Social Security withdrawals, when to start retirement account distribution and how best to allocate portfolios to meet the needs of a diverse client base.
On the expense side, advisors made careful decisions about how to budget for increasing medical costs, rehabilitation and long-term care.
But the challenges of longevity mean more than reorienting budgets and balance sheets as people learn to alter their behavior and expectations to be able to mentally and physically, not just financially, afford a longer life.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at cyr[email protected].
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