One critical theme running through the third annual Financial Behavior in Retirement Summit in Chicago focused on how life planning is critical for advisors that want to help clients plan for retirement.
Keith Weber of Weber Consulting Group in Philadephia cited an AARP study that said 80% of baby boomers wanted to continue working in a more meaningful way instead of retiring, and that was conducted before the financial crisis. And a Merrill Lynch study indicated that 51% of affluent clients wished they would have focused more on life goals rather than financial goals.
This quest for meaning and integrating life goals with financial goals is natural according to famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, Weber said.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Weber said, once people’s basic needs for physical comfort, security and love are met, they aspire for meaning, self-esteem and achievement.
Weber discussed the evolution of retirement from the 1930s, when individuals basically hoped to live for a few years in retirement, through “the rocking chair retirees,” and the 20 to 30-year vacation retirements of the 1980s and 1990s.
Weber said that was followed by “Retirement 4.0,” when people started saying, “I still have gas in the tank and I want to do something meaningful.”
Now, we have reached “Retirement 5.0,” Weber said, and people in the post-crisis environment just don’t want to outlive their assets.
“However once you glimpse a higher level of need, the desire for fulfillment doesn’t go away,” Weber said. If you’re hearing your clients saying things like, ‘I want to give back,’ and want to answer the question, ‘did I matter?’ Tthat is a conversation you want to engage them in.”
He recommended the book The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist, a Native American tale of two tribes. One tribe, the eagles, is very analytical, had developed all the comforts of technology, but had lost touch with its soul. The other tribe, the condors, is very intuitive, but had a very rough life. In the book, these two groups have to work together and share their gifts to have peace.
Advisors can both tribes in their clients, Weber said. The eagles need to put money into perspective, while the condors need to embrace the financial discipline to manage money.
Weber said planner need to ask “two levels of questions” to help clients gain fulfillment. By asking the right questions, advisors can develop a more profitable and compliant relationship.
Level one questions are where we are now: the what questions. Level two questions are the why questions: What’s important to you about retiring at this age.
Weber said he set up a Website to help advisors introduce their clients to retirement life planning, The site was developed to help advisors get clients to create a behavioral profile which examines six aspects of life: Purpose, financial maturity, personal development, family and social relationships, health and wellness, and leisure and lifetime.
Advisors can sponsor and co-brand this site and Weber offers seminars to go with it. “Affluent clients love this!” he said.