Retirement Planning

More Americans Planning to Retire Early

Greater number working to retire by age 55

The number of Americans who want to retire early has grown in recent years as more people plan to stop working by age 55. Thirty-eight percent of Americans under age 54 (who also head some 11.5 million U.S. households) hope to retire by age 55, according to a 2021 report by Hearts & Wallets. The “Aspire to Retire by 55” report also found that 44 percent of those ages 55 to 64 have already retired, while the number of Americans overall who expect to retire before age 65 totals 39 percent – the largest percentage since 2010.

Bice head“Most advisors tell clients to work as long as you possibly can and wait to take Social Security until age 70,” said Cubby Bice, AAMFS®, CRPC®, president and owner of Bice Wealth Management in Mooresville, North Carolina. “Not me: I want to get you retired as early as possible. If I can do that, I've done my job well.”

Bice said his goal is getting clients’ finances to a point where they can wake up every day and choose how they spend every second of their day as soon as possible.

“We try to get our clients focused on the idea that money is not your wealth,” he continued. “Time is your wealth; money is the tool that allows you to choose how you spend that time. I don't think the winner in this game is the person who dies with the most money in the bank. The winner is the one who made the most deep connections and memories.”

Each person has their own goals and visions of what their retirement will look like, he said. Bice Wealth Management has worked with clients from their early 50s through age 70 to create customized retirement solutions that target those needs. There are several variables people cannot foresee – such as future tax policy changes, healthcare expenses, and longevity – so Bice tries to build in as much cushion as possible to account for the unknowns.

“During more than 20 years in the business, I have never run into two identical situations,” Bice said. “Every retirement is different. But we still employ the same fundamentals, reducing risk – as much risk as is humanly possible – and giving ourselves the greatest chance for a successful outcome.”

The main factor that people fail to plan for sufficiently is longevity. Bice said his firm models how much money clients will need through age 100. He added it is better to plan to live for 100 years and live to 88, versus living longer and outliving their money.

Bice teamSince Bice Wealth Management provides solutions tailored to individual situations, new tools like automated trading platforms and robo-advisors are not competitors for his firm’s services, he noted. He said investing, retirement planning, and wealth management is not something people can do on their own unless they have financial expertise. People who win with trading apps get plenty of media attention, but little is said about those who lose their money.

“Advice is not a commodity,” he continued. “Our perfect client is someone who realizes the value of financial planning expertise. We're not looking for clients who want to actively participate in the management of their account. We're looking for someone who knows that they cannot do it, and who seeks an expert to guide them.”

Financial education plays a significant role in the client relationship, Bice said. However, there is no way to quickly provide clients with the depth of knowledge his firm has gained from decades of experience and training in the industry.

“I want to make sure that you're very comfortable, and that you understand what we're trying to do and how we're going to go about accomplishing it. We work hard to create messages our clients can understand while stripping out as much of the jargon and financial lingo as possible.”

The most important step financial planning clients can take is to find an advisor that they trust, Bice said. The easiest way to find that person: talk to someone you already trust and find out who they trust. Building trusting relationships with clients has helped make referrals the main driver for the firm’s business.

Bice also said he feels the financial industry focuses too much on fees. He said there should be a broader understanding that fees are just one part of the value proposition. He noted people can pay zero percent fees but still lose 60 percent of their account value in less than two years – as happened during 2008-2009.

"Fees are certainly part of it, but the more important factor in the equation is value. You are making an investment through the fees you pay; what are you getting in return? I endeavor to provide the best value of anybody in the industry.”

He added, “For the people I deal with, I've done a good job of helping them save money for the future. It's my job to protect and grow their money. We're not traders and we're not gamblers. We're just the opposite: we take a long-term approach that eliminates risk. That’s hugely important in someone's life.”

For more information on Bice Wealth Management, visit

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