Well read: Do you have a Gerontologist on staff?

Well read: Do you have a Gerontologist on staff?

Well read: Do you have a Gerontologist on staff?
By Will Ashworth

While it would be easy to label the move a public relations stunt meant to draw attention to Merrill Lynch’s retirement planning business, the simple truth is Cyndi Hutchins asked for this assignment, first by first obtaining her Master of Arts in Gerontology from USC, and then convincing the powers that be to create the actual position. Not an easy task.

Working 60-hour weeks as a financial advisor while going to school online at night, Hutchins is now able to help her company’s 13,800 advisors better understand their aging client base.

How do you put a value on her contribution? You can’t.

But just because it’s difficult to quantify the exact financial impact of a gerontologist on staff, it doesn’t mean it’s a crackpot idea. Boston-based wealth management consultant Alois Pirker believes the trend of adding specialists like Hutchins is critical for success in what is a very competitive industry.

Hutchins’ boss, David Tyrie, is head of retirement and personal wealth solutions at Merrill Lynch. He believes that in the long-term her work with advisors will result in a bigger client base for the company and while this might seem like a hope and a prayer, Tyrie says this about the move: “Cyndi’s appointment to this unique role comes at an important time, when people need access to a deeper level of expertise and guidance that can help them to and through retirement.”

So when are you hiring your own gerontologist?