It’s human nature to seek out like-minded people or individuals who have gone through similar experiences as we have. For example, support groups bring together participants who face a common challenge to share their ideas, lessons learned, hurdles, and coping strategies. These groups exist so that people can benefit from the previous experiences of others and can learn to thrive with the help of others and their knowledge.
Think back to the milestones in your life. Chances are that you can identify the people who helped you get through the transitions. When you started college, you could probably ask for guidance from an orientation leader, an academic advisor, or a resident advisor—not to mention swap stories with your peers who were in the same boat as you. Starting your first job, did someone train you and show you the ropes? Leading up to and following the birth of your first child, resources abound, in the form of parenting classes, hospital tours, meet-up groups, your own parents, and friends who have already been through it.
In all of these important, life-altering moments, we have support from people who have already gone through what we are about to go through, and we look to them to share their story and to pass on their advice.
Why should retirement be any different?
Financial advisors are constantly encouraged to act as a counselor and a trusted resource for their clients, and I suggest financial advisors think about implementing an even more personal, impactful tactic: connect clients with a retirement mentor(s).
What is a “retirement mentor”?
Retirement mentors are current clients who are already retired, who are enjoying a happy, successful retirement, and who are willing to help advise others who are nearing retirement.
As clients approach their retirement, they may have a number of specific questions about life after work, and they may also have a certain amount of anxiety over all of the unknowns. By connecting them with another, retired client—one who you know is emotionally and physically healthy, socially involved, and financially stable—you are linking them to someone who understands their situation better than you do.
What would a retirement mentor do?
Retirement mentors can assist the financial advisor by offering insight into the financial and non-financial matters of retirement, ranging from tips on how to budget to what social groups/organizations they’d recommend. Retirement mentors are in the trenches, and thus can answer your clients’ retirement questions from a place of actual, hands-on experience. For example, retirement mentors could offer their first-hand perspective on the cost of living in retirement, good areas for retirees to settle, recommendations on how to get around, tips on navigating healthcare, suggestions for maintaining an active social life, etc.
Why should I ask my clients to become retirement mentors for me?
Retirement mentors can provide a service for your clients that you may not be able to offer yourself, and so they can fill an important gap and add value to your business. Connecting clients with retirement mentors is not standard operating procedure, and so giving them access to this kind of personal, high-touch resource could really differentiate you and leave a lasting impression. Not only is it good for business, but it could also be beneficial for both of the clients involved in the relationship. Your soon-to-be-retired clients will likely appreciate the knowledge they gain, and both parties could also potentially grow their social network and trade useful tips and recommendations with one another.
Retirement mentors could be a new way for financial advisors to provide a more human, personal, and valuable service for their clients. In my next post, I’ll talk more specifically about how to introduce retirement mentors into your practice, but for now, start identifying clients that you know are enjoying a happy, successful retirement. They might be your newest resource.