A cultural renaissance is taking place within our industry and those who aren't adapting may find themselves stuck in medieval times.

The original Renaissance period, which spanned the14th through the 17th centuries, brought society out of medieval times and into a more enlightened era.  It was marked by intellectual, social, and political pursuits that broke free from old traditions and methods while fostering new and more expansive ideas and perspectives.   It can be compared to what is taking place within our industry today, as old traditions give way to new approaches and ways of thinking that point toward a more profound and reality-based approach to retirement planning.   

Here are just three of the many trends that are forcing today's advisors to rethink the way they interact with clients and manage their practices:

Medieval Information Hoarders Vs. Modern Information Providers
A staple of traditional retirement planning is the age-old concept of information hoarding, or "Don't tell clients what you know or how you do it because then they won't need you."  Well, thanks in part to CNBCs Jim Cramer, information hoarding has been replaced with detailed education and real-life applications.  Furthermore, fraudsters like Madoff have taught consumers to question those who hide or withhold information, making transparency and information providing new staples of our industry.

In support of this trend, I began offering a Do-It-Yourself Retirement Planning workshop at a modest cost of $99 per person. I figured it would be fun to teach the class while generating revenue from an audience ignored by many advisors.  The goal of my workshop was simple, give attendees my very best strategies, free resources, and industry tips to help them better manage their own investments and retirement planning. To my surprise, it's turned out to be a great prospecting tool, evidenced by one attendee-turned-new-client remarking, "It proved to me that you really know what you're doing."

Medieval Left Brain Planning Vs. Modern Right Brain Planning
As you know, each hemisphere of the human brain specializes in different functions and process different kinds of information. The left hemisphere is more logical and analytical.  The right hemisphere is more intuitive and creative.  The left deals with words and numbers.  The right deals with pictures and how things work together. Traditional retirement planning has been primarily left brain focused and, accordingly, addresses only a sliver of what life in retirement encompasses.

The reality is even if a retiree spends 20 hours per month on their investments and other financial issues that still leaves 97% of their time each year to fill with other activities.  Furthermore, in case you've been living under a rock, an entire industry has sprung up designed specifically to help people replace their work identity; stay socially connected, as well as keep mentally and physically fit.  Just type retirement coach into a search engine and you'll find a myriad of psychologists, therapists, life coaches, and financial advisors who specialize in this area.    

Today's world demands that advisors move beyond grandiose conversations about long walks on the beach or traveling the globe to reality-based discussions about whether retired spouses plan to eat lunch together every day; if they agree on how much time they'll spend with their grandkids, and to what extent they can support their adult children or a parent.  Helping clients make a successful transition from work to retirement is an advisor's responsibility.  Financial professionals can no longer focus solely on 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions. Their advice must include plans and strategies that help clients manage everyday life in retirement.  

Medieval One-Stop Shop Vs. Modern Renaissance Office

The traditional advisor has a CPA, attorney, and maybe even an insurance agent as part of their team. They claim to be a one-stop shop but are really wallowing in the Dark Ages because now it's the complete well-being of the client that takes precedence in the battle of client service and retention.  

New-era advisors will have expansive knowledge and resources connected to every aspect of retirement, including doctors, therapists, personal trainers, nutritionists, event coordinators, travel group/agents, etc.  They'll be as comfortable suggesting a health check-up, group travel event, or local therapist as they are suggesting a time-tested investment strategy. Their comfortable resides in the simple fact that they genuinely care about every aspect of the client's life.  They desire to help them make the most of it, and can finally claim that they don't view clients as just a number or dollar signs.       

Fortunately for advisors, this retirement planning renaissance is still in its early stages.  Advisors have the time and opportunity to embrace emerging industry trends by adding new skills, resources and team members now.  Just as the original Renaissance period produced magnificent pieces of art and iconic figures such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, so too will this retirement planning renaissance give birth to masterpieces that could last for generations to come.  How are you planning to leave your mark in this new era?