Whenever an advisor first hears about College Aid Pro™, one of the first questions our team gets is:
How are College Aid Pro™ members incorporating college planning into their practice?
The truth is, we see advisors leveraging college planning as part of their firms in many different ways. Today we want to go over how we see our members successfully charging for college planning. We’ll cover how you can incorporate college planning into an existing practice, how limited engagements that center on college planning might work, and how to commit to making college planning a focus for your team.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
I have an existing full-service financial planning practice – how can I leverage college planning for current and future clients?
We see our advisors who have an existing practice leverage college planning in a few different ways. They either:
- Offer a limited engagement for college planning only.
- Use a tool like College Aid Pro™ to add extra value for current and future clients at no extra cost.
- They choose to outsource college planning to a company like College Funding Services – none of it is done in-house.
When an advisor wants to offer college planning services but isn’t sure how it will fit into their current service calendar, limited engagements may be the way to go. This is especially applicable for advisors who are currently working with a client base that is aging out – they’re retired, or about to retire. A limited engagement college planning service can spark interest in a Gen X audience and extend the life of your practice.
Limited engagements are just that – limited. You can offer a one-time session, or a financial planning basics plan that’s covered in several sessions, and offers no implementation. These engagements may be all a college-bound family needs. However, serving a college-bound family and addressing their pain points in a limited engagement frequently leads to an ongoing comprehensive financial planning and/or investment management relationship.
Because of this pattern, we recommend viewing limited engagements as a type of paid prospecting tool. You and your client are both using the limited engagement to vet one another and determine whether you’re a complementary fit for future work. It’s important to have a system in place after your limited college planning engagement to capitalize on this prospect and offer next-step services to them. The analysis shows them their current reality for college for just one student. Often times this outlook is grim at the outset and they are eager to explore ways to improve their situation. It is not uncommon for families to ask “What’s the next step?” The logical next step should be to work with you and your firm to build a more comprehensive plan that aligns college funding for all of their kids with retirement and other financial goals.
Using College Aid Pro™ For Current Clients
If you’re already working with Gen X clients or college-bound families, College Aid Pro™ helps you and your clients make more informed college buying decisions and create better outcomes for students. Help them understand that the sticker price of college is rarely what they will actually pay. You can quickly identify financial aid and scholarship opportunities at thousands of colleges across the country and compare the “out of pocket” cost side by side relative to their budget and understand the total loans that may be required at each institution. Helping them navigate their number one financial concern adds tremendous value to your overall relationship.
Incorporating college funding dates and borrowing timelines into your existing service calendar alongside portfolio rebalancing and end of year tax planning can help you to organize your processes. Having college planning as part of your ongoing client service calendar can also help keep your team organized and on track as you work to elevate client services.
Outsourcing College Planning
We know that college planning isn’t for everyone. Not every firm owner has the time or energy to incorporate in-depth college planning into their practice, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see the value. In these cases, it may make sense for you to look into outsourced college planning solutions, similar to how you may refer out estate planning or tax work.
This can also be a good option for advisors who only have a handful of clients who need college planning. If that’s your situation, adopting a full college planning software may not be in your firm’s best interest. However, having an outsourced solution on hand to serve your college-bound clients can still be a huge help.
I’m a new advisor – how should I offer college planning services?
We recommend that new advisors who are interested in college planning lean into it. Why? Because college planning can act as a differentiator. When a prospective client compares you to other advisors, you need something that sets you apart. College planning is that “something.”
What does leaning into college planning look like? You could:
- Market yourself as a college funding expert
- Talk about college planning in prospective client meetings
- Incorporate it into your client service calendar
- Target college-bound families who are in need of your services
- Continue to educate yourself in the college funding space
Think about the type of practice you want to build. Is college funding a good fit? If so, find a way to streamline your college planning process, and start seeking out clients who are an ideal fit for that model.
How can I get my team to adopt college planning?
If you have a team, incorporating college planning into your business is even more straightforward. Choose one person to act as the college funding “expert” on your team. Give that person the tools and resources they need to excel, and have them plug into every client relationship that requires those services.
When you have a college planning expert on your team, you’re able to show your clients that you specialize in their unique needs. Want to grow your business even more? Empower the expert on your team to market themselves and run the college planning arm of the practice. You’ll free yourself and other team members up to focus on client relationships while tapping into a new market.
Ready to get started?
We’d love to talk to you about how college planning could work for your unique practice. Sign up for a Demo call with us today by clicking here!