Life Before Retirement: An Advisor’s Role

Mar 26, 2019

As springtime approaches, many families start to think about vacations and some will be enjoying spring break over these next couple of weeks. And while most of the ads you see tend to focus on college students and beach destinations, you’ll notice that many of them are described as “spring break experiences.” (As someone focused on client experience, that particular word is near and dear to me.)

When it comes to your clients, they are probably thinking about experiences that they can provide to their kids and grandkids.  And I think it is an opportunity for advisors to be associated with experiences to remember.

Living life today, with an eye on tomorrow

Traditionally, our industry has been focused on helping clients prepare for retirement. Yet, the right to spend their money is not magically granted at retirement. Some advisors have trained clients so well to focus on saving that they find they can’t get clients to actually *spend* in retirement – or worse, a client gets sick or disabled before they can fulfill their bucket list.

Fortunately, that seems to be changing. You may notice now that many of the large financial institutions are running commercials showing how they can help clients live life today. One even shows a family’s experience before and after putting a pool into their backyard. While this idea of “spend now” is not new in financial planning, it is changing the perception of the advisor, from the consumer’s point of view. It also strengthens the concept of ongoing advice, instead of a onetime “product sale.”

Planning to spend

Do we help clients experience their money today, smartly? Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a deep discussion about their goals, or are you relying on a simple risk tolerance questionnaire?
  • Is there an opportunity to learn about the experiences they want to create for their families?

You have the opportunity to change the conversation about savings to one of empowerment – a strategy for today, as well as tomorrow. One option might be what I call “saving sprints,” short-term savings plans to fund a vacation or home project. The key is to remove the feeling of constriction (or restriction) when they think of savings. You can also:

  • Help them visualize the experience. Use your experience working with others to share best practices on family vacations, 2nd home purchases or home improvements
  • Give them permission. If you are seen as the advisor who only talks long term, your clients may not share their short-term goals or wants. They may not feel comfortable discussing some of their non-retirement planning ideas. Give them permission to discuss, as well as to spend (if it fits the plan)

Differentiate yourself

Providing a great client experience is so important – and it takes time, planning and care to provide to your clients. We know that the client experience is an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself. This is true in every industry and business. One of the great things about being an advisor is that you have the opportunity to deliver advice that can empower clients to experience their life to the fullest today, while also knowing they are prepared for tomorrow. That way, they can feel confident about creating memories for a lifetime for them and their family as part of their overall plan.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

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