With 77 million baby boomers approaching retirement, advisors are surely looking for ways to win their business. One way? Financial gerontology. That's according to a recent survey by Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking, whose study specifically addresses Registered Investment Advisors.

According to the results, 63 percent of surveyed investment advisors are not receiving specialized training in the physical, psychological or social needs of aging clients, and less than 10 percent have certifications in various aspects of aging. “By specializing in gerontology, or by partnering with external professionals who do, advisors have an opportunity to differentiate their practices, and become a one-stop shop for retirees,” says Maya Ivanova, research manager for Rydex AdvisorBenchmarking.

So what are RIAs doing if they're not brushing up on their aging knowledge? Well, 64 percent of those surveyed say they are planning to increase their use of alternative investments, citing absolute returns and access to non-correlating assets as the top two drivers of client demands. Further, more than half of respondents anticipate increasing their allocation to ETFs by as much as 25 percent over the next year. And why not? A quarter of respondents feel that ETFs will become as important as traditional investments over the next five years.

“As the markets become increasingly challenging, advisors are looking beyond traditional stocks and bonds to meet their clients' investment management needs,” says Ivanova.

But while the interest in alternative investments is strong among investment advisors, clients don't appear to understand the products very well. Of the 326 RIAs surveyed, 67 percent say their clients do not ask about alternative investments, and more than half say lack of understanding is the main reason clients hesitate to invest in them.