One of life’s great mysteries is retirement. For those of us who have never been retired, we really don’t know what to expect or how it will come about until we’re in it. Nonetheless, over the many years of my career I have heard countless people repeat the same commonly accepted beliefs about retirement, and I want to shed a little light on these statements. Here are just a few of the viewpoints I hear most often, accompanied by my take on what’s wrong with them:
Retirement is an end.
While it’s true that retirement marks the completion of one’s formal career, it’s really more of an encore or a new beginning than an end. With today’s technologies and longevity expectations, retirees are able to be more active and live more independently, and the retirement period can potentially span 10 or 20 years. Regarding retirement as an end is gloomy, especially considering how long of a time it could be and how many more possibilities there are for elderly people these days. Frame retirement in a positive light for your clients, and ask them what they want to do during their encore in life. Whether they want to spend time with family and friends, travel, go back to school, volunteer or even start a new career, they can do it, and you can help them be prepared. With a plan in place, it could be the most rewarding time of their life.
If I don’t have enough money to retire, I can just continue working.
We often take our careers for granted, expecting that we alone will make the decision to stop working when we want. The sad truth is that our professional life expectancy is not wholly in our hands, especially as we age. Our own health could decline, making us unable to continue working, or our spouse’s health could take a downturn, forcing us to leave the workforce to care for him/her. Not only that, but the company we work for could change, whether because of downsizing, relocation or ownership change, and that could mean a premature exit that we didn’t plan. It’s important that clients understand that their career isn’t invincible, and neglecting their retirement savings can be a risky move. That’s not to say we should all expect the worst—it’s great to think positively, but even better to do so with your finances in order.
With the help of the internet, books and other education material, I can manage my finances on my own.
There’s certainly no shortage of information on the web and in the media, and there are now increasingly more online investment tools that promise ease and accessibility. But the real challenge isn’t getting the answers or learning how to use software—the real challenge lies in understanding how that information can be applied to our own personal life and situation. Feedback from others is a critical component to any betterment process—writers have editors; sports players have coaches; musicians have producers; the President has a Cabinet; and investors have advisors. Show your clients how the online tools work, and help them realize that the output is often a broad, general solution not specific to their individual goals. Remind them that you’re on their team, that their goals are your goals, that you’ve got both the financial and personal knowledge on them, and that no webpage can make that same claim.
I’ll share more of my thoughts on common retirement myths in a later post. For now, keep these in your back pocket for the next time you have a client who falls for one of these retirement blunders.
All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide investment, tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of an investment, tax, or legal nature, you and your clients should consult with a qualified tax or legal professional regarding your or your client’s specific legal or tax situation, as applicable.
The preceding is not intended to be a recommendation or advice. This material is intended for general use by financial advisors.