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The Next Untapped Market

You can boost your productivity by becoming a financial gerontologist.

By Donald Ray Haas

Are you aware of the largest, untapped market about to explode on the financial planning scene? The people who constitute this market are 76 million strong, have substantial wealth and need guidance about how to make their money last as long as they do. Many are already retired, and most will retire during the remainder of your career.

They will demand service from knowledgeable financial advisors, but will you be ready to serve their needs? Hopefully, you already have experience in the financial field and have earned professional credentials such as the CLU, ChFC and CFP. Capturing this giant new market, however, will require even more time, specialized knowledge and exposure to informed sources.

Financial gerontology
This highly specialized area is known as financial gerontology, and practitioners working in this evolving area are called financial gerontologists. There is even a professional designation that you can earn. But before we go any further, let us explore this new specialization.

The first thing you will learn about this field is that it is never too late to learn. Next, you’ll see that chronological age neither dominates nor determines life’s functionality; it is but one small factor contributing to one’s remaining longevity. Also, gerontology is the study of aging; it is not the study of old people.

What we are describing is a “process,” and understanding this process is critical to working within this huge market. Financial gerontology brings you right into the picture. Your background as a financial advisor provides you with the ideal fundamentals you need to help advise those clients who have accumulated money and need to protect their wealth. However, you must have special knowledge to do so.

The first thing you will learn about this field is that it is never too late to learn.

Becoming an expert
Where can you obtain this specialized, expert information on financial gerontology? Allow me to introduce Neal Cutler, Ph.D., a professor at Widener University in Chester, Pa. Dr. Cutler was associated with The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He holds Widener’s Joseph E. Boettner/Davis W. Gregg Chair of Financial Gerontology and is an associate editor of the Journal of Financial Service Professionals. His most recent book, Advising Mature Clients, is also an authoritative source on how to work with older clients who may need help in managing substantial assets.

The four principles
Dr. Cutler states the four principles of financial gerontology:

  1. Gerontology is not the study of “old people.”
  2. Financial decisions are family decisions.
  3. “Wealth span interventions” are better when made earlier, but can work at any age.
  4. The “wealth span” advisor, as a trusted family advisor, will be called upon to provide nonfinancial guidance.

Dr. Cutler explains the process that people go through as they grow older, as well as how you need to understand this process to be of greater service to this mature, potential client. If you don’t understand this advice, your successful competitors will.

His second principle focuses on the conditions that living longer has imposed upon us. I find that in many cases, when I work with a client, it can also involve the parent or the adult child, either of whom could be my client. More and more these days, all three eventually end up becoming clients.

His third principle introduces the concept of “wealth span”—that compounding wealth over longer periods produces exponential growth; however, it is never too late to get started.

His fourth principle unequivocally brings all of us in as the obvious specialists to serve this market. We know how to build trust, and if you broaden your scope of knowledge, you will be the best advisor to coordinate financial advice and even deal properly with nonfinancial situations.

If you are thinking about specializing in financial gerontology, Advising Mature Clients is a must-read. (It is available at Fortunately, these principles are embedded in the new financial gerontology designation program now being offered by the American Institute of Financial Gerontology (

A word of caution: Because it is so easy to get hooked on this valuable information, you will crave more. Of course, this, in turn, will result in two things: One, you must then become a specialist in the largest growing market in the financial services arena. Two, you will earn your lion’s share of the billions of dollars that I will be happy to share with you. After all, the client’s wealth needs proper management, which only we can provide.

I am ready. Are you?

Donald Ray Haas, CLU, ChFC, CFP, RFC, MSFS, LTCP, of Southfield, Mich., has been an insurance agent and financial consultant for more than 47 years. He can be reached at 248-213-0101 or at


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