In this post-recession world when our finances seem to dominate our thoughts, it’s important to still remember that retirement planning is much more complex than just having enough income to last through our golden years.
This is especially true for advisors who are assisting older boomers.
Steve Holdsworth, the director of client services and financial planning for Legacy Wealth Management in Memphis, has always approached his business holistically, but a series of continuing education seminars he recently attended drove the wisdom of this technique home for him. The first session was about the estate tax. And the next three? They covered elder care, geriatric care and hospice.
“For older baby boomers it’s about living with dignity and maintaining independence,” said Holdsworth, a member of Financial Planning’s 2010 Movers & Shakers. “But it’s also about having the adequate support system around them, and being able to have those conversations [with their advisor] about what’s coming as we’re all getting older.”
Neal Cutler, the dean of the American Institute of Financial Gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and director of the Center on Aging of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, had previously spoken to Financial Planning about the heterogeneity of the 76 million or so baby boomers. The baby boom generation covers roughly 18 years, which puts the oldest and youngest members of this vast generation at very different stages of their lives. The oldest of this group [born in 1946] are already starting to retire, while the younger ones often find themselves as part of the “Sandwich Generation,” where they are still working full-time and have both children and parents at home to care for as well.
The early and late boomers are not only at different stages right now, they also view the next stage of their lives differently too. It’s no secret that the older boomers often have the traditional types of investments and savings vehicles—defined benefit plans, and fixed sources of incomes like annuities and Social Security. This has given them a degree of retirement income security that many of the younger boomers don’t have. This is becoming truer as defined benefits are going away or becoming nonexistent. On the other hand, older boomers might have concerns that are more physical than financial.
“If you look at the older boomers there are a whole other host of issues and planning and opportunities that come into play,” said Holdsworth, who is a co-founder of MPACT, a group within the Financial Planning Association that serves mid-professionals and those in career transition. “They have concerns over physical and mental issues and not just financial health.”
In fact, a survey released last year by the MetLife Mature Market Institute [MET] and GFK Custom Research found that while the youngest boomers [who will turn 46 this year] are more concerned with outliving their retirement savings and being forced to take on part-time work, the oldest boomers [who will be 64 this year] are worried about being able to afford health care and staying productive and useful in their retirement years. (One other interesting finding from that survey: The youngest boomers say they would have to be 71 to be considered old, while the oldest boomers consider 78 to be old age.)
Holdsworth said that when serving early-stage boomers, an advisor may have to think about having more than just the basic team of a CPA and an insurance agent or estate planner around. The advisor may now need to have access to other professionals like an elder-care attorney or a geriatric-care manager.
“It’s about being cognizant of what’s available in your community,” he said. “As general practitioners we have to be aware of these things. While it may not be a specific service offering we have, I think we act as a resource and are able to provide some potential solutions or general resources for our clients to reach out to.”