Unions may be declining, but they can still provide a rewarding and lucrative niche market for financial advisors, says one California planner.

J. Graydon Coghlan, founder and CEO of CFG Wealth Management (www.cfgwmt.com) based in San Diego, has developed just such a practice and he would like to help other advisors break into the field.

Coghlan works with one large union that has 54 locals in California with more than half of its 140,000 membership located there.

“It took years for us to establish a relationship with the union,” he says. “It would take another advisor years to do the same thing. It is not an easy market to break into, but it is a wonderful niche once you have established contacts.”

Coghlan started working with union members at several companies, doing income analysis and helping them make retirement decisions. If an employee was offered a buyout package, Coghlan or one of his advisors helped the client decide whether to take the package. If an employee was retiring, Coghlan helped her decide whether to take the pension as a lump sum or as an annuity.

Eventually, the union started recommending CFG Wealth Management to union members who wanted financial advice. Coghlan, or one of his advisors in the offices throughout California, creates a financial plan that includes the company retirement plan benefits and any other investments or resources the client has. Income from spouses is also included.

The union Coghlan works with represents nonmanagerial employees. It includes many who have already retired and are taking portfolio withdrawals, as well as those who are still working and accumulating money for retirement. All of CFG’s work involves retirement planning and about 40 percent is for union members.

“Unions are a huge niche market for a financial advisor,” says Coghlan. “The advisor has to be well-versed in the retirement plan details in order to help the employees decipher the information given to them.”