Healthcare CostsRetirement

Mind Share: How Fidelity created it by marketing to its own competition

By July 28, 2013 No Comments

Mind share (as defined by Dicitionary.com) is the level of awareness in the minds of consumers that a particular product commands.

In other words, when Sally wants a tissue, she thinks Kleenex.  When Joe wants a drink at the bar, he orders Bacardi and Coke, not rum and cola.

Let’s relate this concept to healthcare costs in retirement.

Survey after survey has highlighted that one of the greatest concerns investors have today is how they will fund their healthcare when they retire.

Just look at the statistics and their source:

  • 70% of affluent investors named rising healthcare costs as their major concern. — Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Survey, August 2011
  •  Medical expenses topped the list of concerns among those aged 65 or older. — 2011 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) Survey
  • 80% of Baby Boomers cite uncovered healthcare expenses as their top concern in retirement  – Banker’s Life Center For a Secure Retirement– January 2012 
  • Healthcare costs are 33% of the total expense for those ages 60 and aboveCredit Suisse “Euromonitor” June 2011
  • 43% of Americans are not at all confident in their ability to pay health care costs in retirement and only 9% are very confident.Sun Life Financial Unretirement Survey – “Flying Blind”

And what has become the standard reply from almost every single financial professional and institution when faced with this question?

“Well Fidelity is reporting that healthcare should cost retirees $240,000. ”

It has now become known in the financial world as the “Fidelity number.” The top brass of major financial institutions has even gone so far as to hire Fidelity specialists to conduct seminars on this topic to their own clients and it’s happening even at competing firms.

I sat in amazement during a seminar hosted by one of the largest insurance firms that operates a broker dealer as a Fidelity representative took the stage and explained, to the best of his knowledge, the basics of Medicare and healthcare costs for retirees.  On the surface, this may seem fine. What is the harm of using Fidelity—one of the most respected financial institutions in the world—to inform perspective prospects and clients of this pressing issue?

The answer is simple: each time a financial professional or firm quotes that general number to their clients and then cites Fidelity as its source, they are implying, “We understand that you may be concerned about this expense and what we did is, we checked with a larger and better-known firm for the information.”

This is the equivalent of an airline passenger buying a ticket from Delta, asking about their luggage, and then hearing the reply: “Well, you do know that Southwest has built their business on ensuring that your luggage not only arrives at your destination but they do it for free?”

How long would Delta stay in business?

Not long.

And what are financial firms doing?

“We understand your concerns, but Fidelity is the expert.”

So why would any investor or future prospect that is concerned about this expense ever go anywhere other than Fidelity?

Does Fidelity not offer the same services that every other financial firm offers?

Again: mind share…

Southwest captured it by marketing directly to consumers and focusing on one of the biggest concerns of passengers: luggage fees. Fidelity captured it by focusing on the investor’s biggest concern: health costs, and then marketed directly to its competitors.

Fidelity has garnered its reputation as an investment giant through decades of solid performance, a variety of investment options, and  customer satisfaction.

But healthcare costs?  Really?

It is simply amazing, just simply amazing…

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