Advisors everywhere know the story all too well: A client worked and saved his entire life and put everything - or nearly everything - into fixed-income securities to prepare for retirement. In doing so, he expected to live out the rest of his life comfortably on returns of 4% to 5%, never touching the principal. Then the world changes: Treasury yields drop to historic lows of less than 2% or even 1%, with some even generating negative returns after factoring in modest inflation, forcing planners and investors to rethink everything.

"What I hear a lot is, 'It's time to refocus on me,' " says Douglas Ciocca, CEO of Kavar Capital Partners in Leawood, Kan. "It was great to have this goal of making all my kids millionaires or funding my charity, but now I need to take care of myself." This may mean spending less in retirement, donating less to charity, gifting less - if anything - to heirs. And it means finding new and reliable streams of income to save, or repair, plans for the future.

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