Michael Lynch | Thu Nov 17 14:30:00 EST 2016
In my last post, I introduced the idea of connecting clients with retirement mentors—other clients who are enjoying a happy, successful retirement, and who are willing to share their experiences with others who are approaching their own retirement years.
It’s a unique idea, but one that could reap benefits for all parties involved. So how do you go about introducing the idea of retirement mentors into your practice? Here’s a thought: IPAS. The acronym might remind you of a certain beverage, but here I use those initials to denote these simple steps to initiating a retirement mentor program: Identify, Pitch, Ask, Share.
Make two client lists. For the first list, think about your clients who are getting close to retirement and who have questions or, more importantly, concerns about that upcoming time of their life. Anxiety, or fear of the unknown, has the potential to lead to inaction and unpreparedness, so make note of the clients that you feel fall into this category. This list could be your group of retirement mentees.
On the second list, think about your clients who have retired recently and who you believe are enjoying a happy, successful retirement. For example, which of your retired clients tend to have a constantly full schedule, or have taken up new hobbies, or joined a new group? Which of your retired clients are doing well, emotionally, physically, and financially? Put them on the list of possible retirement mentors.
Once you have the lists compiled, get on the horn. Reach out to those you identified as potential mentors, and run the idea by them. Explain to them the concept of the retirement mentorship program, making sure to cite the possible benefits that they could enjoy: they can share their own experiences, help others succeed, grow their social network, find a new purpose, hear about others’ experiences, expand upon their own retirement resources, etc. After you’ve completed your pitch, ask these potential mentors if they would be willing to join your “team” and help others who are preparing to embark on this unknown journey.
The next step is to gather information from the volunteer retirement mentors—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ask them a series of questions, such as:
- What surprised you the most about retirement (what were you not expecting)?
- What did you wish you knew prior to retirement?
- What are the hardest challenges that you face as a retiree?
- How did you overcome those challenges?
- What do you consider to be your greatest successes in retirement?
- How did you accomplish those successes?
- How do you keep yourself busy in retirement?
- What suggestions do you have for clubs, groups, or organizations that a retiree should consider joining?
- Are you using any services, apps, or other technologies to make life in retirement easier?
These questions are just the start—tap your retirement mentors to share their story, their thoughts and feedback about making that transition into retirement. Leverage them for their first-hand experiences, and engage them in conversation around their own personal journey. Doing so could be informative, but could also work to strengthen your relationship with this group of clients.
Now that you have your lists of mentors and mentees, have approached the potential mentors, and have gathered information from the mentors who are on board, the next step is to share the knowledge. There are several ways to communicate what you’ve learned, depending on the comfort level and willingness of the mentors. For example, some mentors might be willing to be matched with a mentee, and commit to serving as an in-person, on-demand resource for them. For this group, consider setting up a meeting between a mentor and a mentee (and yourself) to make the initial introduction and get the conversation started. Hopefully, by the end of the meeting, the two clients will have exchanged contact information and agreed to communicate going forward, when/if the need arises.
Other mentors might not be so willing to make a longer-term commitment to the program. In that case, think about using the mentors in a different, shorter-term and less hands-on manner. Plan a client event for both mentors and mentees, so that they can mingle, share their stories, ask one another questions, swap tips and ideas, etc. You could also consider taking a newsletter-type approach. On a monthly basis, for example, you could send a communication to those you identified as retirement mentees with a first-hand account from a retirement mentor, or with a list of resources you gleaned from the questions you asked mentors. However you do it, and however the mentors agree to participate, the point is to share the knowledge.
Financial advisors are often tasked with “wowing” their clients in new, valuable ways, and the retirement mentor idea is one that could fulfill this objective and then some. Get started on these steps, and see where it takes you. Maybe, the ideal situation would be, the program winds up becoming self-sustaining as time goes on, with mentees turning around and paying it forward to the next generation.