When Barbara Micheletti, MS, Gerontologist, became a business insurance advisor in 2006, she brought with her a unique skillset. She has a background in Gerontology and is well-versed in the challenges—both financial and emotional—that aging issues present to individuals and families.
During her time as an insurance advisor, Micheletti discovered that her clients who were struggling with aging and money issues weren’t receiving the guidance they needed. “What I saw over the years were the business owners and their families who were experiencing financially devastating aging and money issues that they hadn't prepared for,” she shares. “They’d neither financially nor emotionally prepared for what I call inevitable aging issues with a financial professional.” She wanted to help those families but felt frustrated that her hands were tied being an insurance agent. So, after 13 years as a business insurance advisor, she leveled up, training to become a financial planner.
A Resource to Agents and Advisors
In her time training as a financial planner, Micheletti saw smart, well-educated planning colleagues who deeply cared for their clients, but who didn’t ask their clients the tough, age-related questions that could devastatingly impact their portfolios in their senior years. So, she set out to teach insurance and financial service professionals how to identify which aging issues were most likely financially crippling by asking questions such as, “Are you going to become a family caregiver in the future? If so, where will that money come from? Will you have to quit your job or financially contribute on top of being the unpaid caregiver? If so, who will contribute to your retirement account? Or, what if your spouse develops Alzheimer’s? Will you be the caregiver, and if so, who will pay, where will you live in old age and where will the money come from?”
To educate financial industry professionals, Micheletti is developing an online training program covering age-related topics most advisors don’t broach with their clients. The Aging and Money Blueprint Program will be a six-module course for professionals who are looking to level up their knowledge about aging and money issues so they can better serve aging clients, retain their adult children as clients, and make a positive impact on future generations.
Making a Difference
One of Micheletti’s passions is educating professionals about senior financial fraud. The risk of experiencing financial fraud has reached epidemic levels as our society rapidly ages and as Boomers are increasingly retiring with more time to spend online or on the phone, says Micheletti. “That's another area where I'm able to expertly help financial and insurance professionals understand why, as a trusted fiduciary, they need to be that extra set of ‘eyes and ears’ for their clients—to be able to identify fraud, to recognize red flags, to mitigate the risk of being frauded, or, if they can't stop it, to help them pick up the emotional pieces afterward because the elderly client’s emotional aftermath of fraud is terrifying.”
Micheletti shares a story of helping an older colleague who was a victim of financial fraud. He recognized that he was frauded immediately and called Micheletti for help. She made sure to provide emotional support as well as reporting guidance, encouraging him not to blame himself, dissecting the fraud to lessen the sting, and assuring him he was not alone. Earlier this year, another colleague reached out to ask for guidance on educating his clients and advisors at his firm about senior fraud as one of his clients had recently been victimized. He and Micheletti are collaborating to increase awareness of senior financial fraud beyond the scope of his firm.
Micheletti first learned about NAIFA from NAIFA President Bryon Holz and NAIFA member and President of Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS) Toni Gonzales, MBA, LACP. She talks about her motivation, saying, "I joined [NAIFA] to support the men and women advisors and agents whose products and services deserve and need to be elevated and offered to people around the country.” She continues, “Many people don’t realize the portfolio-protecting value and advice that insurance professionals provide in offering risk-transfer hybrid products and services, nor understand the value in comprehensive financial planning that financial planners provide to help people financially and emotionally plan into their old age and beyond, and, unfortunately, most don’t know how to find these financial caregivers.”
Micheletti is especially passionate about helping women increase awareness of their own financial planning needs, particularly planning in advance to have a financial safety net into their old age. She shares, “Women stand to inherit 47% of the country’s $84T 25-year wealth transfer, so they have a reason and need to work with a trusted professional. They typically live on average 7-8 years longer than men, develop more chronic illnesses including Alzheimer’s because of their longevity, earn less than men, bring fewer financial assets into retirement, and have historically been excluded from the financial planning process.”
Outside of the Office
When she’s not working, Micheletti is very involved in her community. She is a leader in the WIFS-Phoenix chapter, the Phoenix Financial Planning Association, and at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), where she is one of the founders of the Fitness, Exercise, and Wellness (FEW) group, which focuses on healthy longevity research. In November, her FEW group hopes to present a symposium about healthy physical and cognitive aging at GSA’s National Conference in Tampa Bay, FL.
In her free time, Micheletti loves training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with her blue belt daughter and 6th-degree black belt son-in-law at their academy and is grateful for any moment of time spent with her toddler grandson.
Thank you, Barbara, for your hard work and dedication. We look forward to a bright future in the association for you and are #NAIFAproud to call you one of our own.