Retirement Planning: Are You Asking the Wrong Questions?

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BRASELTON, Ga. -- Advisors who are helping clients prepare themselves financially for retirement are only doing part of the job needed.

That was the key takeaway Wednesday during a session led by Joni Youngwirth, Commonwealth Financial Network's managing principal for practice management, at FPA Retreat.

Presenting a series of retirement models and conversational tools, she noted a cultural shift on retirement that's being led by baby boomers, and urged advisors to take on the role of emotional retirement preparation as well.


"The model used to be: Work, retire, not work," she said, adding: "That doesn't work anymore."

Boomer clients tend to continue working after retirement, she noted -- sometimes for financial reasons, but more often for personal reasons.

That shift has a few implications for advisors, she said -- for instance, some might want to develop a competency as a career coach. But it also requires advisors to help clients shape their road through retirement, and find alternative activities that will replace some of the nonfinancial benefits of work.

Youngwirth highlighted several models focused on key success factors in retirement -- from broad consumer exercises to detailed tools for advisors. Almost all encompassed issues like family and social relationships, health management, spirituality and purpose.

She urged planners to push back a little when clients respond with overly broad ideas about their post-retirement life. "People who say they want to travel in retirement generally do half the travel they say they want," she said, citing one example.


She also noted that people get five benefits from work: "money, status, purpose, socialization and time management."

While financial planners already cover ways to replace income in retirement, they may not be helping clients identify ways to replace those other benefits.

Saying, "I'm my biggest guinea pig," Youngwirth held her own plans out as an example. After taking a series of assessments, she created a list of 23 action items -- and because she enjoys the public speaking that is part of her job, one of her projects was to get trained as a guide on Boston's Freedom Trail.

"What's your own personal orientation for your own retirement?" she asked advisors.  "How does it impact clients?"

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Practice management Client strategies Financial planning Retirement planning