How to Discuss Non-Financial Aspects of Retirement

Accounting Manager
United States Army Test & Evaluation Command
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Most of us whether we are CPAs, financial advisors, or ordinary people, think of planning for retirement primarily as a financial matter. If you build yourself up a proper nest egg, you can think about what you want to do later when you have finally walked off the job.

But retirement is not about money so much as it is about time. What does a retiree do with all that extra time? Will he travel the world, focus on being an active member of the local community, or just devolve to lounging around and watching TV? Unfortunately, far too many retirees fall into that third option because they never came up with a plan in advance, shortening both their lifespan and quality of life.

The importance of time and focusing on retirement planning beyond money means that it is a financial advisor’s duty to talk to their clients about their actual retirement plans and non-financial aspects of retirement.

Why Non-Finance Planning Matters

Some financial advisors may ask why it should be their job to worry about their clients’ retirement plans instead of just helping them create the biggest nest egg possible. But in fact, CNBC points out that too much money saved up can actually reduce a retiree’s happiness. Instead of enjoying their golden years, a retiree with a huge nest egg must spend time managing assets and dealing with requests for money from relatives.

And on a more basic level, how can a financial advisor truly plan for a client’s retirement if they have no idea what the client plans to do in retirement? If a client plans to travel after retirement, or intends to work a part-time job, these are important financial details which a planner has to know.

Even if you know financial matters like these, discussing what a client plans to do on retirement is also important because it shows that you actually care about the client. Competition will intensify in the financial advisory world due to globalization and technology. Advisors need to show that you are actually interested in them and not just their money and can offer services which specifically cater to their desires. By discussing and making retirement plans, you can begin planning alongside your client to making those plans a reality and win customer loyalty.

How to make a plan

There is no one size fits all solution for retirement plans as everyone has different things they wish to do on retirement. But if your client cannot adequately answer what he wants to do, there are ways to help.

A good point by Kiplinger is that “the key to a meaningful retirement is not just filling your time but crafting a portfolio of pursuits that are based on what's important to you.” The first step is to thus figure out what is truly important to the client. Ask them what ambitions they may have on retirement, what their connections to friends and family are, and useful activities that they are doing now that they intend to continue on retirement. Even something as basic as a casual chat about their hobbies can help paint a clearer picture of what your clients wants and how you may be able to help them.

Once you have an idea of their interests, you can begin suggesting plans to them by using time clock apps to set deadlines. Three things which should be suggested are volunteering, travelling, and part-time work. These activities will both give retirees an opportunity to forge new bonds while participating in activities they have always been interested in. Furthermore, part-time work should definitely be recommended when dealing with male clients, as they are often defined by their work and have difficulty adjusting to life after retirement for that reason.   

More than Finances

The New York Times suggested in their analysis of meaning in retirement that “those pursuing the life-planning process tend to be financially secure already.” And it is true that if clients who have not properly saved money for any sort of retirement, you may think it is unnecessary to ask that sort of question.

But for any financial retirement planner, talking about the non-financial side should be a major part of the discussion with clients from the beginning. As noted above, knowing what the client wants to do in retirement will go a long ways towards making such plans clearer, and it is easier for clients to follow your financial advice if you can paint a real picture of vivid retirement plans and social connections rather than a vague “we will figure it out later.”

Financial advisors have a unique insight into clients’ lives and can help them make retirement not just financially secure, but active and invigorating. It may be slightly different from our regular jobs, but remains a valuable service which we can provide.

About anthonym

About anthonym

Cost accountant with major focus in SAP/General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS). Also, main functional inspector for accounting/finance audits for internal reviews as well as the Statement of Budgetary Resources audit initiative.


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