Without an agreed upon definition of retirement, it’s pointless to discuss strategies or financial products. Strategies and products aren’t likely to get your clients there in the most efficient manner, when we don’t know where “there” is.
Ask five people what retirement means, and you’ll get five different answers. The term “retirement” means something different to everyone. So, when your clients say they want to “save for retirement”, what exactly does that look like? And why does it matter?
When you talk to your clients, you can liken it to going on vacation. If they don’t know their specific destination, how will they get there?
How much gas will they put in their car? Which turns should they take?
Begin with the end in mind
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase: begin with the end in mind. This second habit from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.
So, how do we help clients determine what their end goal for retirement is so we can offer a path to get to it? Start by asking open-ended questions like:
- What’s your vision of your future?
- What will it look like before and after your career ends?
- What’s your current plan to get there?
- How will you spend your time?
- Who would you spend it with?
- How do you want experience life?
- What steps should you take to plot your route?
- What roadblocks might get in the way?
- How and when will you recalculate a more optimal route?
These are just a handful of the questions that need to be discussed before they make financial decisions that impact their future.
Why develop a written retirement income strategy?
Having a written retirement income strategy will give your clients directions on how they'll reach their retirement destination.
The purpose of creating a written retirement income strategy isn’t necessarily to make more money. Without purpose and a vision of what they’ll use their resources to accomplish, accumulation of assets is a bit like owning a car just so you can “buy more fuel.”
Which route will your clients take?
Now that your clients know where they're going, they've fueled up their vehicle by saving money and leveraging their retirement resources effectively to have enough for the entire trip, you can help them develop the written retirement income strategy -- which route should they take?
The written retirement income strategy helps them map a route like a GPS navigation system.
Sure, roadblocks will pop up: slow traffic, road construction, or an accident may call for the GPS to recalculate a more optimal route.
However, the GPS would be utterly useless if we didn't have the coordinates to input. No destination? No route? No guidance. It’s “vacation” without any destination. This is why it's so important to ask your clients the questions above.
Also good to remember: Your clients’ retirement accounts are not a guide or a set of principles on how to use the resources most efficiently in order to create enjoyment and fulfillment. They’re merely fuel for the trip.
Help create enjoyment and fulfillment for your clients
Have a sit-down discussion with your clients and anyone else impacted by their decisions about the vision for the future.
Ask open-ended questions about their desired lifestyle.
- What does it look like?
- What do you want to do?
- Whom do you want to do it with?
- Where do you want to go?
- With whom do you want to get there with?
- When do you want it, and how often?
When drafting a written retirement income strategy, envision the future. As the financial professional, you should be facilitating this discussion, asking the right questions, challenging your clients to answer the uncomfortable ones, and gathering the necessary coordinates for the retirement GPS.
This will help you avoid sending your clients off towards their desired retirement destination without any specific direction on how to get there. And as their dedicated financial professional, you’ll be “sitting shot gun”, helping them manage their money along the way.
Encourage your clients to map out a path that will maximize the journey towards a retirement full of enjoyment.
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