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Are We Ready to Retire Yet?

Your baby boomer client will seem willing and maybe even enthusiastic about working on a retirement plan, but you must take the lead.

Judith A. Hasenauer, 03/06/2014

Every day hundreds of baby boomers are reaching retirement age but lack the confidence to actually retire. If ever there was a need for retirement planning, this is it. Actually walking out of your employer's door and terminating that paycheck is very difficult to do.

As a baby boomer, I can attest that there are a lot of excuses: Not enough money set aside; the clients still need me; I don't know what I will do when I don't have to go to work; and the old standby: I'm just not ready. A financial planner along with some good planning tools can give these boomers the confidence to pull the trigger.

Taking the Lead
Starting the process is the hardest part. Your boomer client will seem willing and maybe even enthusiastic about working on a plan, but you must take the lead or it won't go anywhere. The worst thing you can do is give your boomer client a big packet of information and a long questionnaire to complete. If you really want to stall the process, ask them to complete a detailed budget assuming they have retired. It won't happen, and the boomer will conclude it is a waste of time.

The gurus of financial and retirement planning seem to focus their attention on the folks who still have plenty of time to prepare for retirement. Yet, right now the need is greatest for the 64-70 year olds who want to retire and have money but lack the confidence to make the move to retirement. For this age group, these are very scary times.

One of the major issues we have seen with the various financial and retirement planning programs is that when they are explained to the client, the scope is so comprehensive that it is both confusing and off-putting. The planner talks about legacy planning, the ordering asset distribution, qualified vs. non-qualified accounts, tiering of non-taxables. This is not the time to show off your knowledge. The client has already selected you.

A Process
Retirement planning, like retirement, is best accomplished when viewed as a process, not a point in time.

The starting point for this process (while best done years before the target retirement) should begin with a dialog. Get to know your client. Sounds like the compliance officer just stepped into the room. This is a great example of "good compliance means good business." The only way you will get your boomer client to make the decisions necessary to retire is to know them so that you can help them consider suitable options.

The current group of boomers have any number of issues that weigh on them as they consider retirement. They often have elderly parents who are still alive and must be looked after. Some have children and grandchildren that are in financial need. This is the time when medical issues begin to appear. Above all else, these people do not want to be a burden to their children in their later lives.

Judith A. Hasenauer, JD, CLU, is an attorney with the law firm of Blazzard & Hasenauer, P.C. She devotes her practice exclusively to the financial services industry, providing consulting on the development and regulatory clearance of products, compliance issues, distribution issues and related matters, such as advisory activities and industry initiatives.

The author is not an employee of Morningstar, Inc. The views expressed in this article are the author's. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Morningstar.

The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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