Bob McGinty, an 82-year old award-winning newspaper editor, posted on A4A today about his experience with the Web and computers. Bob recalls working in a newsroom in Birmingham, Alabama in the summer of 1953, an era when copy was “spiked” to prevent fans from blowing paper all over the newsroom.
Within a couple of paragraphs, Bob contrasts the era gone by with today's Internet age. Surprisingly, perhaps, he uses a laptop all the time now and would be lost without it.
Bob’s perspective is valuable because he’s probably like so many advisor clients. But it’s the genesis of Bob’s post that tells you why Bob and I are blessed.
Bob wrote that post because I’ve been thinking lately that advisors are missing a huge opportunity to help their older clients securely manage their digital lives. Helping clients securely manage life on the Web is an opportunity to educate older clients and to prepare them for a day when their loved ones will need to access their accounts or find their health care proxy.
Earlier this week, I wrote 12 tips for advisors to become their clients’ digital bodyguard. When that story was germinating, I asked Bob to write about how he and his wife use the Web. I had no idea where Bob would come out on this. I did not know if Bob liked the Web. Here’s what I wrote Bob after reading his last post, which coached advisors on writing.
"I would love for you to write about how you use the Internet to access financial information and accounts—if you do. If you don’t use the Internet, I would like you to write about why you don’t and why you’re friends do not. What are the obstacles? Do you know the benefits? What would it take to get you to do it?"
In responding to my request, Bob’s post shows that clients in their 60s, 70s, and 80s can be pretty savvy about the Internet. Bob’s obviously just one 82-year-old and your clients are bound not to be as good with technology, but Bob’s experience nonetheless should encourage you to help your clients manage their digital lives. Showing clients how to store documents securely, helping them enable their loved ones to find their last will, funeral preferences and trust documents is a role where a fiduciary adds great value.
Maybe next time I can ask Bob to tell us how he handles passwords and see if he would benefit from learning to use a password manager? Or maybe we’ll check his computer for malware and report back on what we find?
Which brings me back to why Bob and I are blessed.
Bob is writing what I am asking for and he’s earning a few bucks, which has got to feel great at 82. I’m getting copy that helps advisors understand how they can help their clients better. We’re helping you help people do something important and beneficial.
If that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is.