In an industry in which accumulating assets is the main focus for most financial advisors, Ian Moyer, founder of Ian C. Moyer Insurance Agency Inc. in Ingersoll, Ont., has taken the reverse approach: he helps his clients spend their money.

Moyer, an insurance and investment advisor who has been in the business for almost 40 years, has built a successful practice that focuses on retirement and estate planning and, specifically, retirement income planning an area that, he says, is neglected by most advisors.

"Most advisors have spent their careers working on the accumulation side," says Moyer, who is 65 years old. "But now, because of demographics, we're in the deaccumulation [phase]. So, a lot of people are beginning to take money out of their [investment] plans. All of those people need advice. It's a huge market."

In particular, Moyer says, many clients need help in determining when they'll have enough assets to retire, how much income they'll receive and the most efficient way of drawing down their assets.

Although cashing in on years of savings might seem to be the easy part of the retirement planning process, that's often not the case. Because couples can have as many as 28 sources of income in retirement each with unique tax considerations Moyer says, retirement income planning can be a complex field.

In fact, he found the retirement income planning process so complex that he hired a software programmer four years ago to help develop a computer application that would simplify the process.

"I was taking many different chunks of software and cobbling them together to create a solution for a client," Moyer says. "I couldn't find any software out there that was easy to use or that included all types of income. So, we created this software."

That software, called Cascades, helps advisors calculate the most efficient way for clients to draw down their assets, taking into account all of their sources of income and the respective tax considerations. That speeds up the process, Moyer says, allowing him to be more productive and devote more of his time and energy to his clients.

That focus on productivity has been a key theme throughout Moyer's career. At the beginning of his career, when Moyer was a life insurance agent with what was then called Northern Life Assurance Co. of Canada, he set a goal of selling two life insurance policies per week. And in the 39 years that he's been in the business, that's what he's done.

That level of production has helped Moyer earn membership in the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) for 32 consecutive years, including 25 years with Court of the Table status a level of membership with higher production requirements and one year with Top of the Table status.

Moyer launched his practice, which is affiliated with Quadrus Investment Services Ltd., in the early 1990s. His practice now has more than 2,000 clients, more than $45 million in assets under management and more than $5 million in annual life insurance premiums.

Moyer attributes his success to his commitment to productivity. In a career that provides the flexibility to set his own hours, he says, staying busy is crucial: "You have to build the habits. It's about seeing the people, having enough appointments every week and making sure that you're busy."

Hiring support staff helped Moyer remain productive: "By hiring staff, I could focus on the things that were important to me and my clients, such as meetings, phoning people, following up. I could get staff to do the paperwork and other things."

Moyer's practice now has five staff members, including his successor, Jonathan Kestle, who recently bought the business from Moyer. Although Moyer still works with his clients, he has dialled back his hours as he makes the transition to retirement. Kestle, meanwhile, has taken over the day-to-day management of the business.

"Now, I just concentrate on meeting with clients," Moyer says. "I still like the work; I like the clients. It's very satisfying, so I'll continue as long as I can."

Although Moyer acknowledges that succession planning is difficult for many advisors, he says the process has been a positive experience. Beginning the process well before he intended to retire enabled him to take the time necessary to mentor Kestle and ensure he was the right fit for the business.

The succession planning approach that Moyer took also enabled him to ensure the business and staff would remain intact within Ingersoll, and also gave him the opportunity to stay involved in the business following the succession.

Implementing a succession plan also had a positive impact on the business overall, Moyer says: "My business went up when I started doing that." (The last year that Moyer owned the business, he notes, was the year in which he qualified for Top of the Table at the MDRT.)

Moyer targets clients who are within about five years of retirement. At that stage of their lives, he says, clients often have been working with three or four advisors, and their assets often are scattered among a variety of accounts and savings plans, such as pensions, RRSPs and TFSAs.

"Most of the time, we see that there's nobody co-ordinating all of those places where clients have money," Moyer says. He helps those clients set up a comprehensive plan that includes all of their assets and a strategy for converting those assets into retirement income.

Approximately 60% of the business Moyer conducts involves investments, including segregated funds and mutual funds, and the remaining 40% is insurance.

On the investment side, he finds seg funds are popular among his clients, who like having a guarantee to protect their assets when they retire.

On the insurance side, Moyer typically sells permanent insurance policies as a component of clients' estate plans. Many of his clients had term life policies during their working years, and now are in need of a more permanent solution. Moyer finds that life insurance can play an important role in covering taxes and other liabilities upon death, especially for clients who have significant assets tied up in real estate and other illiquid holdings.

Moyer spends his spare time being active in his community. That includes volunteering at the Ingersoll Theatre of Performing Arts, for which he is a producer and a board member.

SHARE IDEAS, SET GOALS

Working as an independent financial advisor can be a lonely way to do business, but it doesn't have to be. Exchanging ideas with other advisors is an effective way to advance your business, says Ian Moyer, founder of Ian C. Moyer Insurance Agency Inc. in Ingersoll, Ont.

"I find the sharing of ideas really important," Moyer says. Moyer is part of a "study group" of advisors who share ideas and discuss strategies for success. He also is a longtime member of the Million Dollar Round Table, which enabled him to learn from some of the top advisors in the insurance business.

"I would advise any advisor to be in a study group with fellow brokers or advisors," he says, "so you can learn from each other."

Becoming successful as an independent advisor also requires that you use your time wisely, Moyer says.

"The biggest advantage to our business is that you can come and go as you please. There's no one clocking your hours," he says. "But that's also the biggest disadvantage, because if you can come and go as you please and you never show up, then you'll never see anybody."

He recommends setting goals and making a habit of achieving certain targets each week. "Once you get into a routine," he says, "that just becomes the norm."

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