At the 2005 FPA Conference in San Diego, J. Peter Lindquist, author of Solving the Retirement Puzzle, was the first to introduce the financial planning community to the concept of “pretirement.”

Originally, Lindquist described pretirement as a new life phase primarily for the newly retired, those in their late 50’s or early 60’s who had achieved a certain level of financial independence but were nowhere near emotionally ready to be relegated to the sidelines of life. 

Lindquist suggested that these folks may not need to earn an income, but they do feel a strong emotional need to give back and contribute in a personally meaningful way.  Pretirement, as Lindquist described it, was for those who were somewhere “between the rat race and the rocking chair.”

But over the last few years, the concept of pretirement – if not the name itself - has begun to take hold among a much broader – and younger - group of people.  For a variety of reasons ranging from recognition of one’s mortality to disillusionment over ever reaching the retirement dream, more and more baby boomers and even Gen X’ers are redefining the course of their lives from the typical three life-stage path of education, career and retirement, to include a fourth stage – pretirement – as the beginning point for the second act of their lives. 

Of utmost importance to these “pretirees” is the ability to create lives of meaning, balance and purpose without what they feel is indentured servitude to a company or job that consumes all their energy and leaves little room for anything else in their lives. Having chosen careers that offered the promise of financial security, many middle and second-half baby boomers are becoming more and more disillusioned feeling that they’ve spent a significant portion of their lives in pursuit of a retirement goal that continues to slip further from their grasp. 

Even Gen X’ers are beginning to doubt the retirement promise and are adopting a “life is a journey” attitude by re-tooling themselves into careers that are more personally satisfying. (For proof, just visit www.pretirementliving.com) The difference for this younger group of pretirees is that financial independence is no longer viewed as a prerequisite to the primary driver of being able to engage in a personally meaningful and fulfilling pursuit.

For the financial services community, this trend is more than an interesting footnote – it’s a wake-up call to the kinds of conversations clients will be demanding more of in the future.  While financially secure leading edge baby boomers are demanding more creative and secure income distribution strategies that will allow them to pursue that purpose without worry, second-half boomers and Gen X’ers are seeking help to examine how they can arrange their finances in such a way that will allow them to pursue their personal purpose without waiting to retire. And while parts of that conversation are sure to include topics like budgeting, portfolio design and income distribution, other parts are likely to include conversations ranging from values, priorities and life goals to career direction, extending one’s retirement date and life purpose. In the very near future, successful financial advisors will be more than just a trusted financial advisor, they will become trusted personal advisors able to assist clients with a variety of life issues, not just financial issues. 

Keith J. Weber, CFP®, CPRC, is a speaker, author and founder of Weber Consulting Group, LLC, a financial advisor training, coaching and practice management consulting firm located in Fort Collins, CO.  Keith has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years as a nationally recognized financial advisor as well as in financial institution investment program management and broker-dealer executive management.

Believing that retirement is more than a financial event, Weber Consulting Group (WCG) studies the social and cultural trends impacting retirement.  Through the website Retirement2020.com, WCG provides tools to advisors and clients to help them address the new definition of retirement and life’s “second act.”  Keith maintains the CFP® designation and is also a Certified Professional Retirement Coach.  His latest book, Rethinking Retirement, was released in July, 2010.