Centenarians: the new face of retirement planning

There’s a reason that greeting card companies have increased production of “Happy 100th” birthday cards over the last decade.

More people are reaching the status of centenarian – a once elusive longevity milestone. So, what does this mean for financial advisors? They must now plan to secure a client’s retirement income for decades longer than had been considered in years past.

“Longevity certainly is one of the major risks we have to talk about when addressing the issue of a successful retirement,” said Lefebvre Cleary, CFP®, president of Lefebvre Financial Services based in Stamford, Connecticut. “It just is a reality of life today that when we think about retirement, we really do need to plan for 30 years.”

In 1980, there were 32,194 Americans age 100 or older. Fast forward to 2014 and that number has more than doubled to 72,197, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country’s leading public health organization.

While living longer can mean more time with grandchildren and getting to experience more adventures, it also means increased expenses. Aside from just the day-to-day living, senior citizens experience exponentially greater health care costs at a time when their earning potential is decreasing.

The National Institutes of Health indicates that on average, female senior citizens age 65 and older spend $361,200 on health care in retirement until death. The number for males in the same age bracket is $268,700 – a lower number attributed to the fact that women outlive men. Yet, when compared to the health care costs for people in their teen years and early 20s, the cost for senior citizens is four times greater.

These statistics provide a challenge to financial advisors, and Cleary approaches it head on relying on various Monte Carlo simulators and the software program, eMoney – a fully integrated wealth management program for advisors – that demonstrates the impacts various market conditions and client investment choices are predicted to have on the client’s retirement planning.
“We can show them different scenarios and help them understand we can help them meet their goals, and I think they really appreciate being able to see that,” Cleary said. “It makes it more real for them.”

Another reality she discusses with her clients is long-term care.

“It is such a heartbreaker when we have to tell a client, ‘well, your retirement looks perfect unless you have a long-term care need at age 80,’” Cleary said. “It is a difficult but necessary conversation.”

It is where one of her value propositions as an advisor enters the relationship: Cleary is a promoter of client education. She starts the long-term care dialogue long before most people want to admit they will age. It’s because the time to plan for long-term care is long before the need for it becomes apparent, she said.

“My ideal client is the person who not only wants help but knows they need help to plan, and who recognizes aging has a cost attached to it,” Cleary said. “They make those 100th birthday cards for a reason. Many more people are living to 100 years old and doing so without going broke takes planning.”

For more information on Lefebvre Financial Services, visit

Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. 6 Corporate Drive, Shelton, CT 06484, Tel: 203-513-6000. Lefebvre Financial Services is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC, or its affiliated companies. * Plan implementation can be done through a firm of your choosing. # CRN202004-228223

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