Financial advisor’s desk with to-do list and pen lying next to keyboardAs the current year draws to a close, many financial advisors are busy planning for the one to come.

For many advisors specializing in retirement planning, that means building their client base, learning new skills, or venturing into new financial territory. If you’re looking to attract more retirement clients in 2018, here’s a checklist to guide you.

1. Brush up on soft skills and people skills.

While financial advisors need strong people skills to connect with any client, these soft skills can become even more important when working with seniors.

This is because seniors are entering a period of new transitions. The most common is the transition from career to retirement - even if retirement includes a new business or part-time work.

For some, there’s a transition from independent living to a need for assistance, either at home or in a long-term care facility. Many seniors also must deal with certain age-related health issues.

On top of these, there’s the universal transition from being middle-aged to becoming an older American.

Helping an older client manage these transitions gracefully requires sensitivity and care. As any good financial advisor knows, money can be an extremely emotional topic - and this is compounded when you’re discussing a move to a long-term care facility, or paying healthcare costs associated with a terminal illness.

The ability to listen well, respond with empathy, and develop solutions based on your individual client’s circumstances will help you provide the advice senior clients need without causing any unnecessary emotional distress.

2. Utilize LinkedIn and other social media and online tools for prospecting.

If you’re not already using social networking to build your client base, it’s time to start.

LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool for financial advisors. This business-based social network allows users to search for people based on job titles, industries, and background, making it easier to find clients who actually need your services.

If you enjoy writing and educating, starting a blog or podcast can be another way to build your reputation and bring in more clients.

3. Learn about all the options available to seniors for adding to a retirement fund or paying for long term care.

Many financial advisors aren’t aware of the life settlement market as an option for seniors who are in need of additional funds.

If your client has a life insurance policy and the premiums are a financial burden, or they no longer need the policy, you should talk with them about the possibility of a life settlement. If a policy qualifies, your client can sell their policy to a buyer in exchange for a lump sum of cash.

Although there are direct-to-consumer buyers who may solicit your clients for their policies, it’s far better for your client to work with their financial advisor and a life settlement broker. Doing so ensures that your client receives fair market value for their policy, rather than immediately accepting the offer that a direct-to-consumer buyer makes - which is almost certain to be lower than fair market value.

Adding knowledge in life settlements to your roster of offerings can also help you attract more clients who need help paying for long-term care or supplementing their retirement savings.

Setting yourself up for success in 2018 can be as easy as brushing up on a few skills and embracing continued learning. For more on working with older clients, read “Building Strong Relationships with Your Older Clients - and Their Families.”