Bank of America Merrill Lynch is combining the sociological aspects of aging with the financial planning that an older population needs by appointing its first gerontologist, the bank announced Thursday.

Cyndi Hutchins, who has a background in both areas, will be director of gerontology for Merrill Lynch. The demographics of retirement are changing and require a new approach that includes more than just financial planning, says Hutchins.

“This is the first generation that may have to deal with grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren all at once,” says Hutchins. “An advisor’s conversation with his clients needs to go deeper than just the financial plan. My job is to raise the awareness of the advisors and give them the resources to help them with today’s clients.”

Hutchins has spent the last 15 years with Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor and then as a retirement specialist. She recently returned to school to earn a master's degree in gerontology.

The new retirement is “a mindset change for the industry and for advisors,” she says. “Adding value to client relationships today means having meaningful discussions about longevity, how to smoothly transition into retirement, what it means to go from being a son or daughter to being a caregiver, and how to plan for the unexpected.”

David Tyrie, head of retirement and personal wealth solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, adds, “Look no further than the unprecedented demographic shift in this country, and it’s clear to see that the conversations between advisors and clients need to evolve. 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 throughout retirement.”

Hutchins will be responsible for working with advisors to help them meet the needs of multigenerational families. She also will work with retirement plan advisors and participants.

She will write white papers on topics related to aging, including issues involved with work, leisure, health, finance, family, philanthropy and home, and will be a national speaker on the same issues.

At some time in the future, Merrill Lynch hopes to have a team of gerontologists conducting seminars for advisors and helping advisors deal with issues of aging.

“The idea of retirement for baby boomers is different from what it used to be. They have to consider how long to work, how to spend leisure time, whether they will be caregivers, how to leave a legacy, and at the same time, to prepare for the unexpected,” Hutchins says.