Circling Back to the SECURE Act: 6 Ways to Communicate With Clients so They Know You’re on It

Sep 2, 2020 / By Debra Taylor, CPA/PFS, JD, CDFA
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The huge impact of the SECURE Act, especially for high-net-worth clients, was swept out of the headlines by the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. Now that we have caught our collective breath and learned to live under new conditions, it’s time to address the SECURE Act again with clients.

When the SECURE Act was passed a little over eight months ago, it was game-changing legislation, and for high-net-worth clients, not for the better. For a long time, we had been gearing up for the legislation, warning clients and putting plans in place. And once it passed, we were very aggressive notifying clients of the pitfalls and planning opportunities—only to be totally sidelined by Covid-19 with all of its market challenges and new legislation.

Now that we have become a little more accustomed to carrying on our lives and work with Covid percolating simultaneously, we recommend that all advisors circle back to their clients and renew their all-important discussions and communications on the very important topic of the SECURE Act. So, where do we start?

1. Make a blog post

Earlier on, when the legislation was first passed, we made a simple blog post to our website highlighting the “3 Things to Know About the SECURE Act.” This informed clients—as well as other visitors—of the three major provisions that could have considerable effects on their retirement savings. These include (1) increasing the required minimum distribution (RMD) age from 70½ to 72; (2) student loan repayment relief; and (3) new parents being allowed to withdraw up to $5,000 from retirement accounts for birth or adoption.

This gives everyone a baseline heads up; it’s never too late to put something like this out there if you have not done it yet, or add a referesher post if you have.

2. Send an announcement to your clients

We believe that this legislation is so important that we are not content to limit our communications to a few simple blog posts, though, so we sent several “all client bulletins” to draw more attention to certain issues.

With limited exceptions, the SECURE Act will no longer allow nonspouse beneficiaries who inherit a retirement account to stretch out distributions over the beneficiary’s life when liquidating the account. Instead, the act requires liquidations within 10 years of the newly inherited account, which inevitably will increase taxes and decrease the value of the inherited IRA. Every single one of your clients should be well aware of this and they should be aware of the potential impact on them and their nonspouse beneficiaries.

Figure 1: ‘All-Client Bulletin’ Calling Attention to End of Stretch IRAs

Source: Taylor Financial Group

3. Discuss this at every meeting

We also include distribution planning in our onboarding and in all client meetings. It is important to address this at every formal meeting. Adding this as an agenda item ensures it is thoroughly discussed with your clients and brings information to the conversation that would have otherwise been skipped over. We have included a snippet of our agenda below.

Figure 2: Bringing Up the SECURE Act Is on Our Agenda

Source: Taylor Financial Group

4. Hold a webinar

Before Covid-19, we would hold in-person workshops in local libraries for prospects. Like many advisors, we transitioned to webinars in March when libraries shut down. And we started including clients on the invite list as well.

We created a PowerPoint presentation outlining the key points of the SECURE Act and included real life examples of how the legislation could impact a person’s wealth. It was about 30 slides long and took about one hour to deliver to our virtual audience. Below is an example of a slide from our presentation.

Figure 3: A Slide From Our Webinar on the SECURE Act

Source: Taylor Financial Group

5. Create a video

More recently, we decided we wanted another simple way to communicate the key points of the SECURE Act with our prospects and clients. So much has been communicated in the past six months about the CARES Act and the coronavirus that we felt a quick two-minute video on the SECURE Act would be a change of pace for our clients and prospects.

I set up my iPad on a tripod, made sure the lighting was good, and spoke clearly into the camera. The result was a video titled “Six Planning Opportunities After the SECURE Act,” which we can now post to our website, share on our social media pages and utilize as a value-add piece when reaching out to prospects via email. A still of the video is included below.

Figure 4: A Simple Video Can Be Powerful

Source: Taylor Financial Group

6. Develop a fact sheet

We also wanted a fact sheet, so we drafted the piece shown below for our prospects and clients to highlight “10 Facts About the SECURE Act.” Here we really dig into the provisions to inform clients of how they could be affected. This piece also included a list of factors that could help clients identify if they are at-risk. We included this piece in our weekly newsletter and posted it to our website and we also used it as a handout for webinars. Click here or on the image for a full-size view.

Figure 5: Our Fact Sheet

Source: Taylor Financial Group

In summary, The SECURE Act is huge. It is the most significant retirement legislation since the Pension Protection Act was passed in 2006—so let clients know that you care about and are engaged around how it will impact them. Keeping clients up to date throughout the entire SECURE Act journey lets them know that we are preparing them for this legislation and will consider different avenues for tax management and distribution strategies that could help for their future.

Debra Taylor, CPA/PFS, JD, CDFA, is the principal and founder of Taylor Financial Group, LLC, a wealth management firm in Franklin Lakes, N.J. Debra has won many industry honors and is the author of My Journey to $1 Million: The Systems and Processes to Get You There, a book about industry best practices. She is also a co-creator of the Savvy Tax Planning program.

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