Alternative Advice by Bill Bachrach

By Bill Bachrach CSP

The theme of this issue of FA Magazine is Alternative Investing. According to Investopedia, an alternative asset is any non-traditional asset with potential economic value that would not be found in a standard investment portfolio.

This column uses alternative investing as a springboard to explore how alternative client conversations and advice can help distinguish your client value promise from your competitors to increase client loyalty and grow your business. What is alternative advice? Alternative Advice is advice outside of what is considered to be the traditional domain of financial planning or wealth management: tax, money management, estate planning, and insurance.

You will discover 3 aspects of alternative advice: Financial Organization, Identity Theft, and Health.

When is it appropriate to give your clients “alternative” advice? Any time it would be valuable or helpful for them.

Financial organization is the process where you get ALL of your financial documents and data organized and simplified. What would your life be like if all of your account numbers, user IDs, passwords, and security questions for every bank account, credit card, insurance policy, investment account, reward program, passport, driver’s license, computer, tablet, phone, and cell service…virtually everything with a statement and online access…was completely and fully up-to-date and organized? If something happens to you, how easy will it be for your spouse or children to open your computer and find all the docs and access details necessary to keep your life working or transition your financial affairs in the worst-case-scenario? Obviously, getting this done even with a power of attorney would be a nightmare. Where is the password for your computer and the code to open your tablet and mobile phone? Who knows that besides you? Wouldn’t it be amazing to be this financially organized? If financial professionals aren’t this organized, imagine the state of the general population. Even the most financially successful people who pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for financial advice are not very financially organized.

On a scale of 1 - 10, one being a total disaster and ten being a perfect example for the world to follow, when it comes to being financially organized, most of the financially successful people I ask say they are at a level five or below. In fact, not a single person I’ve asked has said they are higher than seven. When asked if they would like to be a 10, they always enthusiastically say, “yes!” They often tell me that getting financially organized is a project they’ve been meaning to get to… for many years. Sadly, their financial planners, wealth managers, accountants or any other advisor has never mentioned it or offered to help.

This is the kind of alternative advice and help that elevates your client value and can move the needle on the trust dial in the right direction. Yes, you can charge for getting clients financially organized. And, yes, you can charge annually to “audit” their financial organization and bring everything current. Recurring revenue is not just for AUM. In a world where compensation for financial products and investment management continue to decline, perhaps the next generation of financial professional will be the financial organizer.

Our industry tends to focus an inordinate amount of energy on what can’t be controlled: the market, the economy, politics, and world events. Instead of wasting time having a client conversation about Trump’s latest tweet, have the alternative conversation about financial organization.

The financial organization conversation leads very naturally to the alternative client conversation about identify theft. Do you know anyone who has had their identity stolen? If you do, then you know what a nightmare it is. What do your clients do with all of those paper and digital statements? Where do they store them? Are they secure? How can you help? How valuable would it be for your client to have the maximum identity theft security?

Do all of your clients have a fireproof safe in their home? What’s supposed to go in that safe? How do you know if what’s supposed to be in the safe is actually in the safe? Where is the combination? Where are the back-up documents for everything that’s in the safe? What should be in a safe deposit box instead of the home safe? What documents can be held only electronically and the paper shredded and future paper statements discontinued? Where are their paper account statements? All too often, in an unlocked filing cabinet or desk drawer where the housekeeper, handyman, babysitter, or any other worker has easy access. What kind of shredder do they have and do they use it? I’ve been in a friend’s home office where a stack of sensitive documents is piled next to the shredder in plain sight. When I ask when they will be shredded, their “process” is to shred every week or so. In the meantime, that pile is identity theft nirvana. Are all shredders created equal? Nope. Do you know which shredders do the job and which delight identity thieves? Why not just give every client the best shredder with instructions for use? It’s not a gift like a bottle of wine, it’s a deliverable.

If a fire or other disaster is threatening their home and evacuation is necessary, what physical documents should be taken? That’s a trick question because the answer is NOTHING. All any family should have to worry about is themselves, their family members, their pets, and whatever personal memorabilia they can carry as they evacuate. Why? Because the few original physical documents are protected in the safe or safe deposit box and all digital documents are secure, encrypted, and backed up. Even if they can’t grab their laptop, they’re covered. Or should be, shouldn’t they?

For more information to help you help your clients, check out

What would happen to the quality of your client relationships if you had the alternative client conversation about identity theft and provided this service?

Many financially successful people feel that having money helps them maximize quality of life while they are healthy and provides the money to pay for things that improve their health that health insurance doesn't cover. It’s often said about money, “it’s better to have it and not need than to need it and not have it.”

Smart financial advisors work with clients in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. For the obvious reason that these are the people who have all the money and, therefore, the discretionary funds to pay for financial advice. As we age, we have to work harder to maintain health and fitness. Regular checkups and procedures become more frequent and more hours per week are required to stay fit. More if you’re battling a chronic disease like MS or diabetes or waging war on health challenge that’s trying to kill you.

Here’s a good question to get this alternative conversation started, “How hard are you fighting to maintain a high degree of physical health and fitness?” The older you get the more you understand the term “fighting.” Your clients easily engage and appreciate this conversation.

It’s not a deep dive, but you can use the following basic information to frame the alternative client conversation that their time and energy are better invested in maintaining a high level of health and fitness to enjoy their money, rather than wasting time and energy worrying about how things that can’t be controlled will affect their money. You take care of their money so they can focus on taking care of themselves. This is really good advice and it’s appropriate they hear it from their financial advisor.

The 5 basic areas are: Cardio. Strength. Flexibility. Balance. Nutrition.

1. Cardio is mostly about heart health. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. For too many men, the first symptom they have heart disease is death.
2. Strength is muscle mass and muscle mass begins declining after age 30 without a deliberate program to keep it. Why do you want to be strong?
3. Flexibility or limberness refers to the range of movement in a joint or series of joints, and length in muscles that cross the joints to induce a bending movement or motion. Who wouldn’t want more of that? Being more flexible doesn’t happen by accident.
4. Balance. It’s not the broken hip that kills people. It’s the hospital stay and the “recovery.” Best to avoid the fall that breaks the hip in the first place. Read this interesting piece in wikipedia about balance:
5. Nutrition is the science or practice of consuming and utilizing food. You are what you eat it. No truer words ever spoken.

Develop a relationship with the Executive Health program at the best hospital in your town and refer your clients. These programs are typically one or two-day extensive health exams. They have all the latest, greatest data and resources for improving cardio, strength, flexibility, balance, and nutrition. They are usually not covered by insurance, but cost a fraction of what your clients are probably paying you.

For your next client appreciation event, hire a health and fitness expert speaker instead of a money manager or economist. Your turnout will increase, as well as the feedback.

“My financial advisor beat the market.”
“My financial advisor helped me prepare for retirement.”
“Is that all? My financial advisor saved my life.”

Besides referrals and your greater sense of fulfillment, the longer your clients live the better for your business, right? For all the talk about generational wealth transfer, do you really want to work with the children of most of your clients? Have you met their kids? Do you like their kids? Do their kids meet your Ideal Client Profile. Very often the apple fell far from the tree. If they have 3 kids and the money is divided 3 ways, after taxes and after they pay off their debt and the grandkid’s debt, remodel the house, buy a new car, and take a vacation, how much of the original money remains? How much more work will you have to do for less money? If all 3 of the kids stay with you, now you have 3 families to serve. Every advisor I know has horror stories on this subject.

Alternative advice is good for your clients and good for you.

If you want to learn better scripts and would like to have a community of Ideal Clients, check out a complete online coaching program developed by Bill Bachrach by clicking here‚Ä®

For a copy of our guide "THE Future Ready Financial Advisor" go to or email us if you, or someone you know is looking for a “ Future Ready Financial Advisor Coach” at