The Client-centred Blog

Should Financial Planners stop talking about retirement?

The traditional idea of retirement is past its sell-by date

Why should financial planners choose their language carefully in their financial planning conversations with clients?

Think about the people who are reaching retirement age right now.

It is baby boomers. Those people born post war, between 1946 to 1964.  

The original idea of retirement began in the mid to late 1800’s and prior to this people expected to work for the whole of their lives.

Back in the 1800’s and until far more recently life expectancy was significantly shorter than it is now. In fact, in the average life expectancy of a man was late 50’s. So, you died before you retired in many cases!

The traditional idea of retirement is outdated

Some psychologists refer to the post retirement years as the ‘third age’ because you potentially have another third of your life to live and those years offer rich opportunities for fulfilment.

Many financial planners promote themselves in the area of ‘Retirement planning’ yet if they were to do a little research, they would discover that many baby boomers do not identify with the traditional idea of retirement.

Even the word ‘retirement’ is a turn-off for many.

People are not slowing down as they reach traditional retirement age. They are not waiting to die. Instead, they want to engage fully in life by starting a business, travelling, studying, spending more time with family and friends, being active, and using their considerable skills to contribute to society.  

What is the value of financial planning conversations?

Far too many financial advisers continue to assume a client’s primary interest is in financial products and investments. But the truth is that this is more often the financial adviser’s primary interest, not the clients.

I read about a sociological survey of fifty people (source: Life Expectancy by William Keiper), each of whom was at least ninety-five years old. They were asked the question:

“If you could live your life over, what would you do differently?” Some of the key findings were that they would have:

1. Taken more risks when they had the opportunities to do so.

2. Been more reflective about their lives and whether they were living in accordance with their values and priorities.

3. Created a legacy that demonstrated their lives counted in a way that they would be remembered.  

The value in financial planning conversations is, first and foremost, helping a client gain clarity because without this how can a meaningful plan be created?

What can you explore within a financial planning conversation?

Some of the core things to talk about with your clients are:

*What do they value most in life?

*What does living in accordance with their values look like to them?

*How true are they being true to this vision?

*What do they want to do but are holding back?

*What do they want their legacy to be?

The main point is…

The way to significantly improve the power and value of your client conversations is to begin with a blank slate.

This means choosing your language carefully, dropping all assumptions, and avoiding projecting your thinking onto a client.

Instead of a loaded question like “When do you want to retire?” you can use a question like, “Where do you see yourself in xxx years from now?”

These may seem like small and insignificant changes, but you will be often amazed at the difference it makes. Genuine curiosity with no agenda is powerful. (click here to read, ‘Financial Planning – how to have clients sell it to themselves’

You will find yourself connecting with clients in a deeper, more human way. They will get significantly more value from your conversations and what you can do for them because it is meaningful for them in the context of their life.

P.S. A useful distinction I learned is trusting vs. testing. You do not need to trust that this article has any truth to it. Test it for yourself. At the next opportunity you have empty your mind, drop all assumptions, and notice how your client responds.

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