Retirement Planning

Redefining Retirement for Today's World

Everyone knows the drill—go to college, start a career, work until 65, and then relax on the beach with a cold drink complete with miniature umbrella. But the stereotypical retirement imagined by so many falls apart as lifespans continue to increase, and with scores of the newly retired listlessly falling into their so-called golden years without a plan to spend their extra time.
After all, there are only so many beachside drinks someone can have before boredom sets in.

Retirement needs a redesign.


Brown Wealth Management, based in San Diego, provides comprehensive, tailored wealth management services to high net worth clients. The firm requires a minimum of $1 million to sign up for its high-touch “ensemble practice” where multiple specialists work with each client to help them achieve their unique financial goals.

brown400x400The redefined retirement is not a state of being. Instead, retirement should be a transition point in life—the time when people shift from doing what they need to do, to what they love to do.
“I’d say it’s about living your life to achieve financial independence,” Brown told “Advisors Magazine” during a recent interview. “If clients did that, and they worked longer than that hypothetical retirement date they would get to [transition] much sooner in life. And they wouldn’t have to save all that money because they wouldn’t need that huge nest egg.”

Brown Wealth Management uses an approach called dynamic financial planning, meaning that clients’ wealth management plans are living documents that constantly adapt to changing circumstances. The financial plan forms the core of a client's’ wealth strategy. And the firm checks in with clients often, conducting three or more plan reviews annually and hosting between six and eight webinars. Clients also can expect a response to their questions or concerns within 24 hours, Brown said.

The comprehensive, customized approach offered by Brown Wealth Management matters to high net worth clients because their complex assets require thorough, careful advice. New financial tools—the so-called “robo-advisors”—might fill a niche for younger, less wealthy investors, but the high net worth individual still needs the human touch to properly maximize their hard-earned assets.

“I do think some of those things will work for young investors where it’s really about saving as much as possible … Maybe it’ll encourage people to look at that earlier in life, that’s certainly a problem in the United States,” Brown said, adding that high net worth investors, in contrast, often have mortgages, rental properties, and other complicated assets these younger savers lack.
The human touch also provides a backstop to the emotional rollercoaster that a market downturn can take investors on.

“People are programmed to make poor investment decisions; people often buy high and sell low, they don’t want to, but it’s what they end up doing,” Brown said. “I think some of these platforms are going to help people make poor decisions without human interjections to stop them.”

Brown Wealth Management prioritizes financial education for clients. Investors often can make panicked financial decisions or fail to take into account all the facets of an investment product. Brown helps clients understand how their money works so that they are less likely to feel pressured to sell during a downturn or buy during a market upswing.

“We help people understand that typically when things are going good they’re going to get greedy and when things are going bad they’re going to want to take risk off the table, and that’s really the opposite of what you want to do,” he said.

High net worth investors also need an advisor who knows when to address specific financial decisions. Many investors want to understand how their money works, of course, but like airline passengers, they often just need to get to the destination safely. Clients need to be educated when the financial plan is in development, but after that, Brown Wealth Management tries to make sure their money stays moving and working.

“Most of our clients want that education upfront, but once we’re moving along they just want to get to there safely,” Brown said. “We try to educate a lot in the financial planning stage because that’s what we can control.”

Brown Wealth Management takes client education seriously because the firm acts as a fiduciary, meaning that investors’ interests come before the bottom-line. The company places an emphasis on behavioral finance, and has two Certified Private Wealth Advisor(SM) professionals on its team to make sure clients understand how their emotions can affect their investment decisions. The firm also makes clear to investors what a fiduciary is, and why it matters.

“Within the investments, we really focus on the entire asset allocation, not just the assets that we manage, but also the asset that the clients hold outside of our control.,” Brown said, adding that the firm uses outside market research and does not sell any proprietary products. In the event a client needs a relationship with a non-fiduciary professional such as an insurance broker, Brown Wealth Management works to assess the product and provide a fair recommendation.

The redefined retirement likely will see long-time savers easing out of full-time work and into a new occupation that makes them genuinely happy. The transition from one stage to another will require careful planning, a focus on the future, and the ability to make the right financial decisions. Savers, however, likely will find the new retirement paradigm one that keeps them healthy and active into their golden years, rather than homebound. Rather than “old age” or “sunset years,” the new retirement promises to be an active, engaging life-stage.

“I believe that it would make your life more fulfilling,” Brown said.

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