Managing retirement withdrawals isn't enough anymore.

Retiring clients need written plans that guide them on how to replace their work identities with endeavors that will help them feel relevant as well as stay mentally and physically active, said advisor Robert Laura during a presentation at the FPA annual conference in Minneapolis.

Laura, founder of the Wealth & Wellness Group in Brighton, Mich., noted yesterday that retirement planning is often stressful and overwhelming for clients. “By switching the focus to the individual's or couple’s overall well being first, it can make delving into the financial details much easier and palatable,” Laura said.

Advisors don’t have to retool their entire business to embrace this sort of focus. “Too often, when I consult with advisors and firms on adopting this approach, there is this worry that they have to change everything, and it will be time-consuming and costly,” Laura commented. “Fact is, all you have to do is start saying, ‘My goal is to not only make sure you don’t run out of money in retirement, but also [to focus on] family, friends, good health and time.’”

To help clients see the possibilities, advisors need to update their knowledge and skills. “We have to start having better, more realistic conversations about retirement. That means talking about the dark side of retirement that can include addiction, depression and even suicide,” Laura said. “Clients need to know that a successful retirement isn’t one without problems, but one in which you learn to overcome them.”

Laura cied many studies show people who are more socially connected are happier and physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. “But our research says over 60% of baby boomers do not attend or participate in four or more social events each month.  That’s an area of life in retirement that clients need to be better educated on,” he added.

Talking to clients about the more personal side of retirement doesn’t mean an advisor is becoming a therapist, Laura said. But such conversations do help clients be less fearful, recognize they’re not the only ones going through these transitions and figure out what their next steps will be. Talking about these issues can provide a big relief for clients and create the emotional space to help them get through a tough situation or time, Laura said.