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Raymond James Expands Health Planning Tools

By Murray Coleman June 16, 2017

As part of its ongoing expansion into helping clients cope with chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, Raymond James is expanding its reach in healthcare planning.

By year’s end the independent broker-dealer says its network of 7,000-plus advisors should have new tools in place to help protect their clients against the ravages of rising medical costs.

The most recent upgrade to the core set of its so-called longevity services platform is just starting to be rolled out, according to Frank McAleer, director of retirement solutions at Raymond James. That comes through a recent partnership deal with Medicare insurance consultant HPOne.

“There’s no doubt that Social Security planning is still a big issue with clients,” McAleer says. “But the sheer dynamics of the Medicare market – 10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the U.S. – is increasingly becoming a focus of the planning process.”

Others are doing much the same, including Merrill Lynch.

But industry analysts point to Raymond James as one of the most active players in supplying advisors with more apps and resources focused on longevity planning.

In December, Raymond James announced a new set of online and human-based Medicare planning services. Included is a dedicated website where advisors and their clients can find educational content and local price estimates on plans in their areas covering Medigap, part D and Medicare Advantage plans. They can also talk directly with licensed HPOne agents.

“Our Medicare program is just starting to kick in – until early April it’s been in more of a beta-testing phase,” McAleer says.

In the works, he adds, are new online tools and partnerships with outside experts targeting a broad range of geriatric planning issues ranging from dealing with critical care and long-term care to dealing with specialized transportation needs and housing dilemmas facing seniors.

“Our goal is to help our advisors develop more precise and accurate resources as part of their longevity planning process,” McAleer says. “But our next phase is to build out our platform’s ability to help people execute on these ideas.”

Rachel McNeil, a Raymond James advisor with Mustard Seed Advisors in St. Petersburg, Fla., has been an early user of such beefed-up Medicare planning services. Along with her colleagues on a team that manages about $190 million, she’s been incorporating Medicare benefits and other health care planning needs into clients’ comprehensive financial plans.

Over the past several years, McNeil has also been joining others at Mustard Seed in developing specialized workshops and putting together targeted content on longevity-related issues. Medicare, she observes, keeps gaining traction with families and has become a key part of her overall planning process.

While Social Security questions remain common topics brought up by clients, McNeil finds rising interest in ways to maximize their Medicare benefits.

“We’re actually getting referrals now just from clients who appreciate our work in this area,” she says. “It’s helping us to separate ourselves from other advisors who don’t offer this type of specialized understanding of governmental healthcare programs.”

Before taking part in beta testing of the new longevity apps for Raymond James, McNeil had to put together her own set of outside experts. Since she works with out-of-state clients, her network-building efforts also extended to health care professionals in several different markets around the country.

“Now we’ve got one place to go,” McNeil says. “It means we don’t have to spin our wheels trying to find specialists who can compare different Medicare plans in different markets. It’s going to be less of a struggle to develop our own networks and support our clients no matter where they live.”