Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, leads a research program aimed at understanding the behavior of the 45-and-older population. Its analysis includes the role of technology and the opportunity for innovations to improve the quality of life of older adults and their families. He spoke to writer Elizabeth Wine about how advisors fall short in dealing with this demographic.

1. You say that advisors must change the way they deal with clients, especially baby boomers. Why? Consumers are getting so much smarter and their challenges are so much more complex-the costs of chronic disease, care giving for parents or possibly a spouse-that they need advisors who understand what life stages mean to what they're going to be spending money on now. Advisors will have to face the challenge of not just being fluent in product, but being much more sophisticated about the client's current problems instead of just selecting products to help 20 years from today.

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