When Laurie Adams convinced her husband to retire early in 1997 she thought it would be a great idea. She and her son would see him more often, and he would be free to pursue other endeavors that he couldn’t pursue due to the high demands of the hospitality industry.
Adams, a financial planner at Country Financial in Peoria Heights, Ill., soon realized that she was wrong.
“I quickly realized that retiring from something was not a good enough plan,” Adams said.
Her husband, a former manager of 250 people, now placed those managerial demands on just two people – his wife and son. In addition to losing the high demands of his former role, Adams’ husband lost his social circle.
“Everyone he knew was still working and he worked too many hours to have a social network outside of work,” Adams said.
The eye-opening experiences of helping her husband transition into retiree life prompted Adams to starting focusing on the non-math aspects of retirement with her clients ensuring they really are retirement – ready.
While teaching retirement planning at St. Ambrose University, Adams spent hours poring over research on retirement and teaching her class how those findings would impact their client experiences.
“Most people had the idea that retirement was a period of slowing down,” Adams said.
Found in the Re-visioning Retirement Study by Aging Expert Ken Dychtwald, Adams acknowledges that there are four different personality types for retirees. Those groups from Dychtwald’s study are as follows:
- The Live For Todays – All about new experiences; haven’t done a good job of saving for retirement.
- The Sick And Tireds – Those who were forced into retirement due to health or downsizing; prepared for the least amount of time.
- The Today’s Traditionalists – Living the traditional idea of retirement as a time of “slowing down.”
- The Ageless Explorers – Same attributes as Live For Todays, but planned financially and emotionally; can reinvent themselves throughout retirement.
Adams said the conclusion advisors and their clients can draw from this is that people who are the most successful in retirement are the ones who planned the longest.
“Meaning they retired to something rather than from something,” Adams said.
It All Starts With A Notebook
So how can advisors help ensure their clients are successful in retirement? Adams recommends a notebook and three lists.
Using the names Dick and Jane for examples, the three lists should detail what each one wants their life to look like in retirement.
List one: Things Dick will do alone in retirement.
List two: Things Jane will do alone in retirement.
List three: Things Dick and Jane will do together in retirement.
“That is a huge conversation starter with clients,” Adams said. “Almost always when you start talking to a couple about retiring, one of them looks uncomfortable and a lot of the time it’s the spouse who has been staying at home. They’ve seen how their friends’ lives changed when their spouses retired.”
Adams said it all rang true for her because she saw first-hand how her husband changed once he retired. “For the first six months all he did was sleep and worry,” Adams said. “I was just trying to save him from that job, but I saw how retiring from something is a really bad idea.”
Because of her personal experience, Adams understood the uncomfortable spouse at the other end of the table. Without a social network and plan of things to do and see in retirement, no amount of money or financial planning could alleviate the worry.
Eventually, as her husband began to pursue new interests and career paths, the worry started to dissipate, Adams said. But, she recognizes that it could have been avoided altogether had her husband had a plan for retirement in place.
“Really working on the non-math part of it, is an important part of retirement planning,” Adams said.
The notebook idea and the focus on the non-math portion of retirement originates with author and retirement expert Mitch Anthony who suggested in the early 2000s that holistic planning was going to become an integral part of the non-math portion of retirement planning.
As more of the industry begins to move in that direction, Adams said it important for advisors to talk about their clients’ vision for retirement early and often, make sure they share the same vision and how to mesh their individual personalities into a plan that alleviates the stress from both individuals.
Adams jokes that her approach is reminiscent of counseling, but Adams said not sharing the same vision for retirement has led to a spike in divorce rates in retirement-age couples. In fact, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center report, divorce rates among adults 50 and older has tripled since the 90s.
Adams said “It’s very important to get that conversation out there now, so they can work it out while they are still working.”
Adams encourages advisors to have their clients create a list and ask “how’s the list going?”
Recommended Reading: The New Retirementality, Mitch Anthony
AdvisorNews Managing Editor Cassie Miller may be reached at cassie.miller@Adnewsfeedback.com. Cassie has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. Follow her on Twitter @ANCassieM.