Reframing the Retirement Conversation

What if they held a retirement planning meeting for financial advisors themselves and no one showed up?

Sound odd? It was, but that’s what happened. We set up a meeting for a group of financial advisors to discuss their own retirement planning. It was part of consulting project to determine why financial advisors were getting so much “push back” from clients on the subject of retirement. The plan was to see where the advisors were in their own retirement planning. We sent out invitations to “second half of life” advisors. No one responded. When we pressed for why they didn’t respond, the message we got back was “we don’t want to talk about retirement,” which was both insightful and prophetic.

If client-facing advisors were having misgivings about the idea of retirement, how did they engage their clients in conversations on this topic? Apparently not very well. When we asked financial advisors for specifics why the reacted so negatively to the invitation to discuss their own retirement planning, they said the following:

Retirement is an outdated idea
It doesn’t acknowledge the reality I am living
I’m never going to retire
Retirement is the beginning of the end
I have too many responsibilities.
I can’t think in these terms
I’m at the peak of my game
What would I do if I didn’t work?
I need health insurance

These comments suggested that retirement may not be a good starting point for a planning conversation with second half of life clients. So we decided to start with the reality financial advisors and their clients were living and come up with a new framework that didn’t necessarily reject retirement but rather offer it as one option in a “bigger conversation.” The problem in our mind as the lack of a new, engaging planning conversation that didn’t assume everyone wanted to, could, or should retire. We were right.

We tested our new model on a focus group of financial advisors and struck a chord. “That’s it,” was their first response. “That’s what I need to be doing, that’s what my clients need to be doing,” they said. So we created a presentation that offers financial advisors a new perspective on planning conversations with second half of life clients. It combines insights on what these clients are experiencing with new strategies to create engaging long term planning conversations. You can see a summary of the presentation here: