Retirement Income Communication Award… Winner?

Wealth2k’s Social Security Wise™ Wins 2013 Retirement Income Communications Award – and leaves us wondering

retirement roadAccording to a recent press release, InvestmentNews chose Social Security Wise™ from Wealth2k as recipient of the 2013 Retirement Income Communications Award. What has me puzzled is that this same product suffered a fairly scathing review in Investment News earlier this year – so what gives?

The press release talks about the market need:

With 161,000,000 covered workers, Social Security is a vital component of an investor’s overall strategy for generating retirement income. The financial services industry has clearly recognized the importance of Social Security and has devoted significant resources to the development of educational tools and claiming strategy comparison programs.  Most of the client prospecting programs available to financial advisors, however, are traditional, paper-based tools. In spite of an almost universal need among advisors for improved online consumer education and lead-generation there’s been little introduced in the way of high-end, web-based tools to help advisors capitalize on the $20Trillion retirement income planning opportunity.

According to Wealth2k Founder & CEO, David Macchia, “Social Security Wise™ bridges a critical gap in the marketplace. It serves as the digital bridge that joins millions of potential clients with the financial advisors who wish to provide retirement income planning services.”

However, in July 2013 Mary Beth Franklin of InvestmentNews wrote about Wealth2k in her article “New Social Security prospecting tool all sizzle, no steak.”  She writes:

Mary Beth Franklin

Mary Beth Franklin

Now here’s the really interesting part: the Social Security Wise suite of web tools contains no Social Security claiming strategy calculator. … In other words, once an adviser hooks a prospective client based on the promise of higher income through savvy Social Security claiming strategies, it is up to the adviser to figure out how to implement it. It’s the height of the old marketing adage: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. But in this case, there’s no steak.

So, I supposed if the award is for sizzle then they deserve to win but if the award is for truly meeting a market need then I think they have a ways to go. Either way, it makes me wonder about awards programs these days.


Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth Gooding is the editor of the Insight Forums blog and president of Gooding Communications Group

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  1. Isaac Yoder

    I was wondering the same thing. Have you come to any resolution about this since?

    I can’t find anything else about the award aside from Social Security Wise’s own press releases. And InvestmentNews’ article really is scathing.

    • Elizabeth Gooding

      Hi Isaac – thank for reading. No – I didn’t get any response from Investment News. It will be interesting to see what happens with this year’s batch of candidates. I will certainly be watching closely.

  2. David Macchia

    I’m David Macchia, Founder of Wealth2k. It’s interesting. Mary Beth Franklin maintains that her article was complimentary, not scathing. I know this because I spoke to Mary Beth about this. The “sizzle” headline may have created an inaccurate perception.

    The purpose of Social Security Wise is to help the financial advisors improve the initial engagement with a prospect for retirement income planning. Most advisors do not have high-quality websites. Most don’t have the resources required to create interactive and multimedia content. Consequently, the online image advisors convey can be sub par. The purpose of Social Security Wise is to help correct this.

    By definition, in working with their clients advisors will always use other tools, including Social Security strategy analyzers and income planning software programs. But they first have to engage a prospect with a quality educational experience. That’s where Social Security Wise helps both consumer and advisor. It’s this dynamic that Investment News recognized with the award. I hope this provides some clarity.

    • EGooding

      Hi David – thanks for posting. If Mary Beth did not intent for the article to be negative then perhaps she should comment on it herself.
      I’m not suggesting that your product is or is not a useful one to advisors but I’m not sure how Ms. Franklin can tell you that she did not her article as negative commentary. How else is one to interpret ” It’s the height of the old marketing adage: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. But in this case, there’s no steak.” That’s a little more than a misinterpreted headline methinks.

  3. Mary Beth Franklin

    Hi all,
    If you read my full review of Social Security Wise, you will see I list all the advantages that t the program offers in terms of a professional digital presence and sophistocated marketing tools that many small, independent financial advisers may lack. The main concern I raised was about how the tool would be used. As I said in my article from July 7, 2013:

    But I am concerned that some advisers might take the shortcut of signing up for a slick website and lead-generating tool without investing in the back end effort to learn the ins and outs of Social Security claiming strategies. I can assure you, it will be worth your time and money to complete the picture by signing up for a Social Security calculator or training program.

    • EGooding

      Mary Beth – thank you for taking the opportunity to comment directly. I did not see your full review of Social Security Wise – only the article entitled “New Social Security prospecting tool: All Sizzle No Steak.” I agree that it is a concern, actually a likelihood, that advisors would look for a short cut. One might think that something called “Social Security Wise” might be set up to provide insights on Social Security claiming strategies but, in their defense, Wealth2k is very clear on their website that the tool is for Prospecting (as you noted in your article as well.)

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