I know something you don’t. I’ve seen this issue evolving over the last few years and want to not only expose the problem but also start talking about solutions.

The base case is that the average financial advisor is 51 or older and has been in the business for 20 plus years. This advisor holds at least two credentials and, on average, earns $134,000 or more. The industry is dominated primarily by males who make up 69% of the workforce and who stereotypically carry a “work hard, play hard” mentality. (This data comes from Cerulli Associates, U.S. News, Forbes and Data USA.)

Now take all of that information and throw it out the window. Too often, people make assumptions based on the numbers rather than what is actually going on. Statistics like this can paint an incomplete picture—one in which we have an aging workforce and can expect advisors to exit the doors in massive numbers over the next 10 to 15 years. It also suggests that a successful career in this field follows a certain pattern.

But it’s just one small perspective, and like we tell our clients, past performance is not indicative of future results.

The problem with aging advisors is not that their time is up or that their approach is outdated; it’s that they are turning into clients. It’s happening in a very unexpected way. You know how we all eventually turn into our parents? We start to do and say the things they told us to do for years but didn’t.

A similar type of phenomenon is taking place with advisors as they try to figure out what to do next. They’re struggling with the transition from being hard-charging, successful advisors with all the answers to being someone or something else. They are, in other words, just like their clients, who have plenty of money for retirement but don’t know what to do without their career or new goal to chase.

It’s an interesting situation for a number of reasons.

First, I would highlight how older advisors are turning into their clients by also struggling with their changing roles. Recently, I received an e-mail from a woman who had read a few of my books and articles. As you will see, her situation not only illustrates the complexity of getting older and making a retirement transition, but also mirrors what many older advisors are facing as well.

It seems that in my relationship I am no longer needed. I was an excellent corporate wife, an asset. I was a good stay-at-home mother raising two sons so my husband could focus on his career. Now that he’s retired, I am not needed as a corporate wife, and since the boys are adults, I am no longer needed to fulfill that function. My husband traveled a lot whether our kids were home still or not, up to the moment he retired. I was needed then as the person who “held down the fort” at home. Again, [I am] no longer needed, as he is here all the time now. My husband used to be proud of me, and happy about my performance, but no more. And of course, I’m not doing all those things he needed me for in our past. I have an active outside life, and healthy self-esteem there, but not as a wife. This can’t be so unusual, I guess.

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