The Value of the RMA® – The Practitioner’s Viewpoint

At the summer conference, RIIA®’s own Joan Boros led a panel discussion focused on the value of the RMA® (Retirement Management Analyst®) designation.  She was joined by Dan Keady, Senior Director of Financial Planning at TIAA, Manish Malhotra, President and CEO of Income Discovery, and Zach Parker, Vice President of Income Distribution and Product Strategy, Securities America, Inc.

Zach has been associated with RIIA for a number of years, and was awarded RIIA’s Practitioner Thought Leadership Award in 2011 for his excellent research paper on the various methodologies in use today for turning savings into income: “Capturing the Income Distribution Opportunity”.  This is a great example of the key role RIIA serves in sifting through academic and practitioner thought leadership, finding the most valuable material, validating the conclusions, and then consolidating and incorporating that knowledge into the RMA program.  RIIA does the hard work of discovering, validating and teaching the new realities of retirement so their RMA graduates can quickly and easily apply that knowledge to their practices.

Dan Keady has seen the benefit that the RMA offers personally.  He earned his designation through Salem State University’s RMA program last fall and spoke to us about the ways in which he has introduced the concepts of client fundedness, flooring and upside, and household balance sheet analysis into advice processes at his company.  With many years in the industry, Dan was amazed at how valuable the information contained in the RMA was – even to someone with his prior knowledge and experience.  The way that RIIA focuses on the client as a whole – all sources of potential income in retirement (not just that obtained from financial capital) and all sources of expenditures (including items such as healthcare, taxes, or commitments to extended family) via the household balance sheet – turns out to be both essential for success in retirement and uncommon for financial planners that haven’t taken the RMA course.  It sounds difficult, with so many moving pieces, but RIIA has created a curriculum and a case-study instruction approach that makes learning and incorporating the process very straightforward.

Manish Malhotra has created a very impressive tool in his Income Discovery platform.  His tool allows financial planners to model all sorts of strategies, from annuity purchases to optimal Social Security claiming to optimal withdrawal order from taxable and non-taxable accounts.  The tool selects among the strategies and combinations of strategies to identify the one that provides the best outcome in retirement.  Manish is evaluating RIIA’s concepts for his tool, as his exposure to the RMA program has shown him new ways in which he can add greater value for his clients via his tool.  This is another way RIIA’s “view across the silos℠” approach can identify and communicate new insights that providers and practitioners can’t always see without that bird’s-eye view.

It was encouraging and fascinating to hear directly from practitioners how RIIA and the RMA have had a positive impact on their practices and methods.  Because, in the end, the value that RIIA and the RMA bring is in how people apply RIIA’s thought leadership to achieve better outcomes in retirement.

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