Financial advisors often complain that one of the biggest obstacles to providing meaningful retirement planning advice is clients' reluctance to sit down and really think about what it is they want in their retirement and how they plan to afford it.

And for pre-retirees -- those closing in on retirement within the next three to five years but who are still working, active and healthy -- the prospect of sitting down and deciding today whether they'll want to downsize to a smaller residence or set aside a specific amount of money for possible long-term care after the death of their spouse can seem too abstract and distant to bother with today.

To help assuage any anxiety among pre-retirees while at the same time giving financial advisors something tangible that they can work with, LIMRA this week debuted Ready-2-Retire, an interactive web application that gently navigates pre-retirees through a retirement preparation guide that advises them of various risk factors as they age and provides an opportunity to prioritize their so-called "bucket list."

The idea is help ensure pre-retirees that they're properly planning and saving now for that condo on the golf course or a cruise around the Mediterranean while at the same time giving their advisors a holistic view of their various income sources, risk tolerance and lifestyle preferences to guide their investment strategies.

LIMRA, a research and consulting firm for the insurance and financial services industry, claims only 40% of pre-retirees have bothered to create a bucket list for their retirement years and less one-in-three has a written retirement plan in place within three years of their targeted retirement age.

"While many pre-retirees have a more realistic idea about how long they expect to live in retirement, they have not considered how they will spend that time or planned how they will afford it,"  said Paul Henry, managing director, LIMRA retirement products. "What we hear from pre-retirees is that the idea of planning for retirement seems complicated and overwhelming, and advisors have told us that their clients often are unprepared to begin the process of retirement planning."

Ready-2-Retire asks pre-retirees to make important decisions in a very interactive and simple manner. Participants are asked to click and drag various goals or lifestyle preferences into trays listed as "very important" or "moderately important" or dump them in the trash can.

Some of the options include living in a gated community or moving to a more comfortable climate.

The interactive app then asks the pre-retiree to use a sliding timeline to set the age at which he or she and his or her spouse plan to retire. Along the bottom of the slide are a number of milestone age data points telling the participant when they'll become for full social security benefits and other important data.

Then the application moves on to ask how the pre-retiree plans to pay for basic needs in retirement such as housing, food, health care, transportation, insurance and other non-investment-related expenses. It also asks them to determine their confidence levels that social security or savings or a pension will meet these basic needs.

The data is then compiled to form an overall retirement profile that can be sent to financial advisors or reviewed with family, friends and other professionals.

"Ready-2-Retire also prompts clients to think about the risks they will face during the different stages of retirement, providing information that they might not have thought about," Henry added. "By the time the clients are meeting with their advisor, they have a better understanding about what a comprehensive retirement plan involves and are ready to discuss the details, saving time for both the advisor and clients.”

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