Redefining retirement and your business

By Philip Porado | February 1, 2010 | Last updated on February 1, 2010
2 min read

A year ago, advisors heard many clients announce they’d delay retirement.

Fear was the flavour of the month. And, with losses mounting, a lot of advisors who’d been preparing to shift focus from accumulation to payout put the brakes on those plans and opted to stay on the asset-gathering course a little longer. But surging equities have led to a rapid mood change. Clients are once again ready to retire, but there’s also a clear shift in how the leading edge of the baby boom is defining that word.

People facing life expectancies into their 90s are not planning for 30 years of idleness. In Canada, where an increasing percentage of older workers are engaged in knowledge-based work, your clients may put in fewer hours behind a desk, but they won’t walk away entirely (at least not for a while).

They’ll hang out shingles, start consulting firms or other businesses, and in some cases launch new careers. When talking with their peers, they’ll refer to themselves as retired—in reality they’ll be anything but.

This retirement redefinition will have major implications for advisory businesses. Advisors, and their teams, must prepare to deal with older clients who are still accumulating assets. They’ll need a smaller portion of payout; and since they’ll still be drawing some work income, it will be necessary to continue providing advice on investment allocation and taxation.

Further, a larger percentage of these pseudo-retirees will be business owners, challenging advisors to broaden their skill sets to cope with newfound needs. Some may even start looking at RESPs again, this time with grandchildren as the intended beneficiaries. In other words, many of the areas advisors anticipated winding down over the next few years will continue to be top of mind for their wealthiest clients.

In particular, advisors must help this group adjust its equity market exposure, and shift substantially more assets into bonds and other fixed- income products. The alternative of having them panic incessantly over every subsequent market downturn will become too difficult to manage.

This will be no easy task for advisors working with clients who started investing during the roaring ’80s, made a mint during the tech boom, and still perceive themselves as having strong appetite for risk. A business structured to cope with, and help them understand, their changing needs will make the process easier.

Philip Porado