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2 Trends That Will Forever Change “Retirement Planning”

There was a time (not too long ago) when people thought of a career as settling in with one company and working there for 30 years. Just a single generation before my time, building a successful career meant staying long enough to “move up the ladder”, and changing jobs was considered something that was done only when it was necessary. Once a person reached retirement age, they were expected, and sometimes even forced to stop working. Retirement meant quitting.

Today as our lives are changing so is the definition of retirement:

  1. Funding our future isn’t what it used to be. Today, few companies provide pensions for their workers, and even if they do it’s less valuable because people change jobs much more often. Today, people often build their careers by working for shorter periods of time then moving on to the next level at a new company. They are always looking for the better opportunity. Defined contribution plans have replaced pensions in most cases, and workers are responsible for their own future. Additionally, current evidence is pointing toward a very different Social Security system for future generations. Defined contribution plans (like 401(k) plans) have become the norm, and have put the responsibility and choice of saving back on each individual.
  2. We’re living longer – Not just staying alive. But LIVING. Think back thirty years. How many 65-year-olds do you remember working out at the gym, or running marathons, or starting a whole new career? Today we have a different perspective on what is normal in our sixties and beyond. Many “retirees” find themselves wondering “what’s next?” They are looking for fulfillment, and they see new possibilities in their new stage of life. Retirement is no longer about quitting your long-held job and spending the remainder of your days sitting on the porch. It’s about finding out what’s next, and although it’s different for everyone, it’s definitely NOT quitting.

As advisors, we should recognize these trends and talk with clients about the privilege of having choices later in life. Creating the freedom to choose our future lifestyle is all about choices we make today. I’m not suggesting that advisors should get on the soapbox and make a speech about “sacrificing more today, so that tomorrow you can rest.” No, our clients deserve to know that, for many people, working deep into their 60’s and even 70’s will be their reality.

The key is that they make a conscious choice, based on their own vision of the future, while understanding the pros and cons of their decisions. So they should think about what that work will be. Do they make a career change? How do they design their future so that they can feel rewarded?

Clients will need a “counselor” more than they will need a number cruncher. They will want a person they can sit with, and bounce ideas around. Clients will want an empathetic shoulder to cry on when times are tough. And, when things are going well, they will want to share their joy and excitement about the future possibilities. They will need a human being to translate all of the data and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as they navigate uncharted waters of the modern retirement.

Written By: Vance Boucher President, Hardworking Capital

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