Tips that Advisors are Qualified to Give

Think outside the numbers

Retirement is supposed to be the “golden years” of living – the time to experience the activities and live the dreams that the working years did not afford in terms of finances and time. But as today’s retirement is stretching out from the once anticipated length of perhaps ten years to today’s duration often spanning three or more decades, a growing number of retirees report sunset experiences that aren’t bright and shiny let alone even fulfilling.

In his newly released book, “What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third Age,” Dr. Ken Dychtwald, gerontologist and founder of Age Wave, a consulting and research company, shares the results of his interviews with more than 100,000 baby boomers regarding retirement.

What he found doesn’t necessarily line up with the traditional American dream of retirement.

“They struggle with their identity, relationships and activity,” Dychtwald told the New York Times in an October 15, 2020, article. “Some people feel unsettled, anxious or even bored, but eventually they realize that relationships, wellness and purpose really matter – perhaps more than ever.”

Based on that assessment of the state of retirement, here are some thoughts to share with pre-retirees and current retirees to help them prepare for this transition.

Create a New Social Circle

Or at least expand the one you already have with the express intent to include people that are also retired.

BR “Without a doubt, the number of social relationships dwindle as we get older and loneliness is often the biggest problem clients struggle with as they age and go through retirement,” said Brian Rasmussen, the founder of Rasmussen Advisors in Folsom, California. “If you’ve seen the movie, ‘About Schmidt’ with Jack Nicholson, what happens to him after he retires from his job is an all too familiar story that must be addressed.”

In the movie, a midwestern insurance salesman retires and goes on an RV trip with his wife to attend their daughter’s wedding. In the process, he deals with the variety emotional issues they had avoided during his working years.

Retirees often do purchase an RV or join travel clubs where new friendships often are part of the itinerary. But there are other ways that don’t require purchasing a home on wheels.

To get ahead of the curve, form connections outside of work before retiring. For instance, seek out friendships with others who are preparing to retire or check out volunteer options to expand your social circle.

Revamp Your Identity

During one’s working years, so much of “who” you are is tied up in the “what” you do to earn a living. That changes with retirement.

MS “I’ve seen several clients struggle with identity after they retire from a successful career from something they loved that they allowed to define them,” said Marc Shaffer, principal at Searcy Financial Services, Inc., in Overland Park, Kansas.

That’s why he coaches clients to change their view of retirement. Instead of “retiring from” work, Shaffer advises clients to view the shift as “retiring to” the “what” they have been dreaming of doing during their retirement years. He has his clients practice thinking about what they will do once they aren’t expected in the office every day.

“Rather than a short list of things to get done, we try to coach them into how they will spend their time,” said Shaffer.

Prepare for “What ifs”

Yes, retirement brings new opportunities to do things you have always wanted to do.

It also may bring some people face-to-face with various degrees of cognitive decline that can come along with aging. So, it is prudent to address the “what ifs” of getting older before they may become reality.

JS “The hardest conversations are around the issue of cognitive decline,” said Jessica Searcy-Kmetty, vice president of Searcy. “It’s so hard for an older person to give up their independence or recognize that they can’t or shouldn’t manage their own finances anymore. It’s easier to give up driving thanks to Uber and Lyft and home delivery services than it is to give up financial decision making. So, it’s really helpful to begin having those conversations well in advance of it becoming an issue or concern.”

The Take Away

The relationship an advisor develops with clients is often more than a financial one. Talking to clients about issues such as their changing social circle and refocusing their identity, as well as possible changes in their cognitive ability can be a natural conversation in a relationship built on years of respect and trust. Guiding clients to address retirement’s social issues along with its budgetary ones can fulfill the role an advisor often plays as an emotional fiduciary.


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