Retirement Planning

Each Retirement Plan Needs its Own Road Map

Hope for the best; plan for the future.

When the years of planning for your retirement transform into the years of actually living out your retirement, expect reality to be somewhere in the middle. All the best laid plans of mice, men, and financial advisors can easily be derailed by market fluctuations, increased inflation rates, and the marvel of modern medicine that has created longevity rates that previous generations only dreamed of.

“The question on everyone’s mind is will they have enough money to last to 100,” Alicia Lewis said. As founder of Layman Lewis Financial Group based in Loveland, Colorado, she hears the longevity concern loud and clear from clients in nearly every conversation. “No one wants to be 95 and flat-broke busted.”

A 2017 Sightlines Project study of 1.2 million Americans by Stanford University’s Center on Longevity highlights the concerns Lewis references. The project documented that three out of four Americans surveyed indicated they would like to live to or past the age of 100 if that could be done in good health with financial security.

That’s the trick, Lewis said.

The ensuring of financial security isn’t nearly as simple as answering a survey question. It takes planning, and it takes flexibility.

“The plans that we put together for our clients are very flexible because life happens and we have got to be flexible within our plan, and so we talk, talk, talk to people about this,” Lewis said. “It is like when you go on a road trip. You have your roadmap, you have your snacks, and you have figured out where to stop for restroom breaks but then, boom, you get on the road and it is closed and then you are going to have to take a detour.”

Her planning philosophy relies on the notion of under-promising and over-delivering.

Lewis does not allow her clients to rely on upper-end market returns. Rather, she steers them toward planning for conservative returns that guarantee the meeting of their needs and leave room for gravy on the top should returns in excess of expectation occur.

To Lewis, financial planning is as unique as each client is.

alicia 071717 0096“Everyone is different,” she said. “We look at each client individually and figure out what they need within their plan to meet their goals and then go about finding those products and/or services that we believe will help them accomplish their goals. Then we bring those to them and explain to our client why we believe this is the best option.”

Doing this is part of what Lewis considers to be her fiduciary duty to clients. It’s a mantra she used since the beginning of her practice and is part of why she isn’t favorably impressed by last June’s move by the federal Department of Labor to introduce new fiduciary standards by which all financial advisors must abide.

She said it is laughable that it took an act of Congress to get a certain element of advisors within the financial services industry to disclose what fees they are charging client.

“One thing that has always frustrated me about the financial industry is that not all have been forthright with clients regarding what is going on within their portfolios,” Lewis said, adding that she welcomes the notion that advisors must fully disclose fees to clients. “But now for every advisor to say that he or she is a fiduciary – I do not think that is a true statement, especially if you are working for a company and are limited to working within a menu of products and investments.”

Lewis is a straight shooter. She will tell her clients the financial information they might not want to hear; she will address the touchy subjects, such as how much health care will cost in one’s golden years, or the often unpopular option of saving money to make larger purchases rather than adding the price tag to a credit card.

People’s tendency to avoid financial issues comes as no surprise to Lewis. Between the day-in and day-out stream of negative economic information broadcast through various media sources and the confusing jargon associated with the financial service industry, Lewis understands why clients might put their heads in the sand.

“I think it is the responsibility of advisors to explain to clients what is in the fine print,” Lewis said. “We as advisors need to show them the ‘why’ with the ‘what’ of financial planning and the details of the prospectus that come along with tools we use to create their retirement plan. We need to explain it in terms such as, ‘we are doing this to accomplish this,’ and ‘this benefits you in this way,’ and ‘this is how it fits in to your plan; into your personal roadmap.’”

Learn more about Alicia Lewis and Layman Lewis Financial Group online at www.laymanlewis.com

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