The same type of logic applies to retirement planning and the MRI. We are simply using something many people, especially those closer to retirement, have either experienced themselves or gone through with someone else. This helps to create a bond that shifts the focus away from the dollars and cents of retirement and allows you to learn more about your clients (fears and experiences) and the same goes for them with you.

I want to underscore that last point because as I have worked with and trained a number of successful advisors, one of the key ingredients to their success was their close relationships with clients. For them it was very commonplace for clients to become close friends simply because they took the relationship outside of the money conversations and started meeting them somewhere other than the office. Therefore, advisors who want to be ahead of the curve need to start finding more ways to open up new conversations about life after work that address more than money fears.

My suggestion then is for advisors to take some time to reflect on some funny, scary, weird and even very common situations that provided a valuable life lesson. By taking the time to not only write them down but also to begin to consider how they can help people in other areas of life, like their retirement, you will be one step ahead of helping clients make a better transition.

Most people are familiar with the famous quote from the movie Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,” and so what would be some fun or interesting ways to spin that towards retirement? “Life in retirement is like an MRI; if you aren’t prepared for what’s involved, you’ll likely need to be sedated.”

While I don’t quite think that’s as catchy of a quote, I hope that you can see that you can have fun with this non-financial side of retirement planning. It doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming, and you don’t need to rebrand your entire firm. Just be you and start sharing more of your personal experience and wisdom with clients.

Another thing advisors can do is be proactive on helping clients plan for the non-financial aspects of retirement. In the case of my MRI, it would have been helpful for the technician to say, “Hey before I send you in there, many of my clients prefer to put something over their eyes and to listen to some music.” But she did, and I didn’t know to ask, so I learned it the hard way.

Which reminds me how we often send people into retirement. “Yes, we ran your numbers and everything looks good, so let me just slip you into this tiny tube of life after work and let’s see how you do. While they may not feel claustrophobic at first, it can happen over time, and social interactions go down, as they feel less relevant, aren’t eating healthy or exercising like they thought they would or feel like they are a bother or burden to a spouse.

At least with an MRI scan you can click the button and get out, but for many struggling in retirement, they suffer in silence for years, trying to figure it out on their own. They don’t know who to turn to or talk to, but it should be you or someone in your firm trained as a Retirement Coach who can play a role in making sure they have both a financial plan to replace their paycheck as well as one to replace the mental, social and physical aspects they lose in the transition. 

Now more than ever, advisors need to realize retirement planning fears and concerns go well beyond financial and insurance related concerns. We are entering a new era where the narrative is much more about helping clients understand and prepare for everyday life in retirement, including fears about mental, physical and social well-being.

While advisors can’t install an MRI machine in their office to give clients a glimpse as to what life in retirement may look and feel like if they aren’t prepared, they can use their personal experience and knowledge to proactively educate them so when they enter retirement, they aren’t traumatized by it or need sedation to get through it.          

Robert Laura is a best-selling author, nationally syndicated columnist, and president of Wealth & Wellness Group. He is a seasoned conference speaker, corporate trainer and pioneer in “The New Era Of Retirement,” which focuses on the non-financial aspects of life after work. He can be reached at [email protected].

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