Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:59 am
Last fall, Next Level Planning & Wealth Management, a Milwaukee-based office of MetLife, was selected to roll out the Retirewise program for the entire state of Wisconsin.
The designation has opened new doors for Next Level and has already produced significant growth for the firm.
Retirewise is MetLife’s workplace-based retirement and investment education program. So far, MetLife has presented to more than 450 companies across the country, including American Airlines, Ogilvy & Mather, Raytheon, Sephora and others.
The plan incorporates similar tools and messages that Next Level has been using with clients for more than 10 years, said Paul Tourville, financial planner with the firm. However, it has exposed the Milwaukee office to a large pool of new potential clients.
“We started doing financial education in 2000,” Tourville said. “Before (we were part of the Retirewise program) we were working with smaller companies, typically with less than 100 people. Now we’re in the institutional world, talking to thousands of employees. It’s put us in a different world.”
Over the last seven months, Next Level’s staff has traveled throughout the state, doing presentations about the Retirewise program at some of the state’s largest companies, including InSinkErator, Land’s End, U.S. Oil, Alliance Laundry Systems, RBP Chemical Technologies and more.
The Retirewise program is a series of four two-hour seminars that provide a comprehensive view of retirement planning. During the seminars, employees are asked how they envision their retirement. They are introduced to planning and investment techniques and examine potential income streams during retirement.
At the end of the program, individuals are able to sign up for a complimentary meeting with MetLife representatives. The national average for employees requesting a face-to-face meeting is 45 to 50 percent, but Next Level’s averages are about 80 percent, Tourville said.
“And the last three (seminars) have been 100 percent,” he said.
Almost all of those who request a personal phone call or meeting with Next Level end up being customers of the firm, Tourville said.
“Of that 80 percent (that ask for a phone call or meeting), about three quarters of them become clients of ours,” he said. “About half is the national average.”
Many of the new clients that are signing on with Next Level after one of the presentations are doing so because of the training and materials provided with the Retirewise program, Tourville said. Last fall, he attended a week-long training seminar in New Jersey, where he learned not only about the program, but also how to present it.
“It was 60 hours of intense education with a lot of hands on time,” Tourville said. “It was one of the best opportunities of my professional life.”
Financial exercises that participants go through during the program, which create emotional touch points for those that are taking part, is the biggest reason the Retirewise program has been so successful for Next Generation.
“Most of the education that is out there is purely analytical information,” Tourville said. “The problem is not a lack of information. The problem is a lack of emotion. (Retirewise) has videos and exercises that get people there, driving them to emotion, which is why people make decisions.”
The Retirewise program and the thousands of new potential clients it has given Next Level access to have already made a big difference for the Milwaukee firm. The company expects its revenues, assets under management and number of relationships to increase by at least 50 percent this year.
“We’re on track to triple the number of institutional relationships, if not quadruple them,” Tourville said.
In 2009, Next Level Planning & Management presented the Retirewise program to four large companies in Wisconsin. The firm has signed up nine additional companies so far this year.
And some of the companies that Next Level has presented to have asked it to present the program for third and fourth rounds.
“All of the companies that have had us want us to come back,” Tourville said. “This program can help the do-it-yourself person, the person who already has a relationship with a financial advisor and the person who wants a relationship with a financial advisor.”
While the firm has greatly increased the number of clients it has access to through the Retirewise program, it has kept its focus on individual investors, Tourville said.
“This is not a sales process – this is the singles and doubles money, the money that people retire with and send their kids to school with,” he said.