Do you know who said, “Don’t simply retire from something; have something to retire to.”?

The quotation is from Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), regarded by Martin Luther King, Jr. as the greatest preacher of the last century. With so many boomers retiring or nearing retirement, Fosdick’s statement about retirement is especially relevant today.

Successful retirement relies on more than having enough money. It’s about feeling happy, fulfilled, and valued.

A theme repeated in studies about boomers transitioning into retirement is that they are concerned about the quality of their social interactions, especially after they leave the formal work force. Many will continue to work or contribute in some way, because they enjoy interacting with people. Retirees report it’s the social interactions they miss the most about work, even more than the reliable income.1

How will they follow their dreams?

Without a job to go to, clients will have a lot of time to do other things. After they have a coffee and read the news, how will they spend the rest of their day?

Some clients will tell you they’ll golf or travel. These activities may take up a couple of days a week, or a month out of a year. What will they do the rest of the time? Will their ideas or priorities change over the years?

Vacations can provide a sample of life after work. They are wonderful chances to put some thought and conversation into retirement.

Suggest your clients think over the summer about what they want to do in this new phase of life. For example, will they retire to a new career? A new hobby? Here are some other things they may want to consider:

  • learn a new skill
  • start a business
  • continue working part-time at something they love to do
  • do something adventurous
  • spend more time with family, including grandchildren
  • get into better shape by biking, hiking, swimming
  • volunteer.

It doesn’t take much effort to imagine what they want to do after they retire, and it’s a great starting point.

A basic retirement lifestyle quiz

After your clients give some thought to retirement in general, ask them to answer more specific lifestyle questions and help clarify their retirement vision:

  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • What’s your ideal vacation?
  • Do you plan to make any major purchases during retirement, like a cottage or luxury car, or going back to school?
  • If you want to escape the cold winters and be a snowbird, how long would you live outside of Canada, and would you rent or buy?
  • Do you want to work during retirement or retire early?

Another important question is, “What are your biggest financial and emotional worries in retirement?” Research shows that lots of Canadians are concerned about paying for their lifestyle in retirement:

  • 40.3% are “not at all” confident that their retirement income will be enough to enjoy the lifestyle they want, for ages 57 to 66. That’s 4 out of 10 Canadians close to or at retirement who are really concerned about paying for their lifestyle.2
  • 45.4% are “somewhat” confident that their retirement income will be enough to enjoy the lifestyle they want, for ages 57 to 66.3

When you encourage your boomer clients to think about what they’ll do in retirement, you open doors to solutions for their concerns.

Continuing the conversation

Ask them, “Does your spouse or partner have the same ideas about retirement?” There’s some evidence that couples aren’t speaking to each other about their retirement dreams.

Only 36% of respondents ages 57 to 66 have discussed retirement planning with a spouse or partner.4 Also, many pre-retirees are not discussing important issues, such as how much money they will spend each year or how they will fund healthcare or homecare costs with their spouses or partners.5

If their dreams don’t match, that could cause challenges, especially when they’re spending more time together. Talking about what they expect in retirement—including what they’re afraid of—can solve problems before they start. Confidence comes from an honest discussion about lifestyle goals and creating a plan to meet those goals.

After your clients articulate their vision, you can help them put a price tag on their retirement lifestyle. Then, ask them to complete the Retirement expense and income workbook. Compare their income to their spending. If there’s a gap, a reality check may be necessary. Saving more now, retiring later than age 65, and working part-time in retirement are options they can consider.

Starting a conversation about lifestyle needs is part of Money for Life™, as well as basic, health, and legacy needs. If you haven’t discussed retirement planning with your clients, now’s the time to start! You don’t want another advisor to offer this crucial service, before you do.

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1 Americans’ Perspectives on New Retirement Realities, 2013 Retirement study, Age Wave and Merrill Lynch, p. 6; Shining a Light on Pre- and Post-Retirees, Hearts and Wallet$ Report Series, 2012, p. 15; Sun Life Proprietary Research, Retiree profile segmentation, 2011

2 Sun Life’s 2013 Canadian Unretirement Index

3 Sun Life’s 2013 Canadian Unretirement Index

4 Sun Life’s 2013 Canadian Unretirement Index

5 LIMRA, 2012 Ready, Set, Retire? Not so fast, p. 57