Robos Aren’t Social Security (SS) Superheroes


by David D. Holland



You might read this title and wonder, “What in the world is David talking about?” Maybe you picture a futuristic android wearing a red cape with a large “SS” emblazoned on its Titanium chest. (Though we don’t know what the future will hold, we aren’t quite at that point in 2017!) When I talk about Robos, I’m referring to the proliferation of Robo-advisers that have cropped up in the past few years. Robos allow consumers to receive financial guidance based on information provided to computer software. Here is the problem with that – the human element is missing! A robot (computer) can’t adjust for circumstances and changes in your personal life, the kinds of things you would discuss in the office of a living, breathing financial adviser.


Holland FinancialNow, that being said, I do believe that cutting-edge technology and “human” advisers can work together in perfect harmony. Here’s a great example. Joe Elsasser, CFP®, was on my TV show recently. His company licenses Social Security software to advisers just like me. I use this software as a tool to begin the process of evaluating and optimizing Social Security options for my clients. The software program will do some of the number crunching, but the true customization will be based on the conversations I have with my clients.


What are the personal circumstances in your life that could alter how and when you draw Social Security?


How is your health, and the health of your spouse? Is a family history of longevity (or lack thereof) a concern for either of you? Are there any significant financial commitments you must adjust for (like an adult daughter who still requires financial support or a grandchild who will need your assistance with college tuition)? What if you decide to retire – but then go back to work part-time? How would an expected inheritance figure into your retirement income picture? Are there other assets available to draw from if you delay taking SS benefits for a few years? How will your tax liability be impacted?


On its own, the Robo can determine a strategy that isn’t quite one-size-fits-all, but it can be one-size-fits-many. It’s the integration of Social Security optimization data with a laser-focus on the personal situation of each individual, or couple, that could mean a difference of thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, in Social Security benefits over a lifetime.


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