Whether your parents were driving, or you were shuttling your own family on a road trip, we’ve all heard the age-old question, “Are we there yet?”

As an adult, we know the details and timing of a trip, but kids just can’t comprehend it. No matter if you give them a time frame for arrival or a visual like, “When you see a giant body of water…or miles of sand, then you will know we are there.”

But even with these cues, they still ask, which is interesting because they really aren’t asking. Instead they are making a statement about their current situation. They may be either bored, uncomfortable, annoyed by a sibling, tired of playing car bingo or watching movies.

And quite frankly, simply telling them how much longer it’s going to be, isn’t enough—no matter how many times you say it.

This phenomenon can also take place with clients as they approach retirement. They get this, “Are we there yet,” mentality about life after work. Similar to kids on a trip, they may not just be asking if they have enough saved but also expressing their fears and concerns about making the transition.

As you might expect, the more times a client asks or alters their retirement date, the more worried or anxious they may be about the transition. This is important because I don’t care which credentials you have, what planning software you use, or how fancy the binder is that you put all your charts and graphs in, the solution they need has nothing to do with money or traditional planning. 

This is important because this ability to see and identify situations like this is becoming more and more important for financial professionals. They need new skills and tools to recognize deeper, and more personal concerns associated with retirement.

Furthermore, it’s not enough to just recognize the situation. It needs to be addressed in multiple ways that go beyond the current face-to-face meeting where the issues come up. Because like kids in a car, you can’t just tell them they are going to be okay. They need something more than verbal reassurance.

Take a moment to think about a situation like this. What would you say to a client who keeps asking about the numbers and has changed their retirement date a couple times recently? Let’s add in that their spouse has voiced some frustration because they are supposed to be traveling and enjoying life right now.

A common advisor response might be to go over the numbers one more time and share something like, “I have had other client’s like you who have faced and overcome similar concerns. I know this because it’s what I used to do. In fact, it’s what we have all been trained to do. And don’t get me wrong, it can be helpful in that very moment. But what happens when the client leaves your office? How are you helping them deal with the doubts and fears that will creep back into their mind the next day, week or month ahead?

I refer to this opportunity as a collateral benefit. You have likely heard of collateral damage, which is unintended damage to something that wasn’t the primary target. Well advisors can provide intentional benefits by arming clients to deal with these things outside of the office. 

This can be done with a series of newsletters, blogs, a book, video series, online class, group workshop and more. When people are in transition, they need help and support. They need to be nudged, encouraged and reminded of the upside and not just focus on the downside. They need permission to think outside the box or to put old and outdated ideas behind them.

At the heart of the matter is the reality that the future of our profession isn’t in asset management, income protection or estate planning alone. It’s in the more human and personal elements like this. It’s doing things that help people on a day-to-day basis and not just on their month-end or quarter-end statement.

We can look at some additional ideas and solutions for clients in transition with interesting statistics. A recent poll of 2,000 Americans found that the average family will spend nearly 23 hours on road trips during the summer months. In that time, they will need to make 11 bathroom stops, eat 13 snacks and play 16 car games.  Not to mention, they will have to deal with 16 “Are we there yets,” 18 “How much longers” and 17 “I’m tireds.”

I think those statistics are important because they probably don’t come as a surprise to anyone who has taken a family road trip. Reality is, these are well known, or commonly applied concepts related to the situation. In fact, most parents can almost perfectly time when an “Are we there yet?” or bathroom request is coming based on past experience. 

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