It’s no different for financial services professionals, who also hold tight to certain ideas about retirement: We don’t want to let go of the ideas that a certain amount of money or insurance will save us after we stop working. But if we can combine these beliefs and rituals with other factors, taking into account a client’s health, happiness and connections, then we are leaving less to fate and hope.

The process for doing this can be fairly simple and straightforward, and it won’t require much more than some questions on company letterhead, including a place for clients to write their answers.

It should include questions such as:

• What does a perfect day and week look like in retirement?
• What aspects of your life have you had to put on hold because of your work and career life?
• In retirement you will gain time and freedom, but what aspects will you be losing in the transition?
• What things are you planning to do in retirement that you’re not doing right now for your health?
• What three to five goals do you want to accomplish in your first few months of retirement?

One of the goals behind these questions is to get clients thinking about their everyday life in retirement. Too often people approach it with a variety of vague ideas and assumptions. They think just because they are no longer working that things will magically fall into place and they will have purpose, direction and fulfillment simply by being able to wake up on their own and by having the option to do whatever they want throughout the day. That’s like thinking that carrying a horseshoe everywhere in retirement would provide good luck. If the client has the time to think about it and actually write it down, we move away from hope and fate to concrete ideas and strategies.

Also, by asking these questions, you keep clients from having to figure things out on the fly when they stop working. It’s common for people to say that they are going to work out more, eat better, spend more time with family and volunteer for impact once they retire. But that’s just talk. They are only assuming that they will have the health, energy, and motivation to work out more, that family wants to spend time with them, and that volunteering a few hours a week somewhere will give them similar purpose and direction that their work did.

You don’t have to ask everyone who comes into your office these questions. Start with one client to see how it feels and flows, then build on that momentum. You don’t have to rework your entire process and develop new content and material. You just have to care enough to ask one person. That’s it!

The opportunity to help your clients plan beyond dollars and cents is the next frontier in financial services, and it’s not only rewarding for them but also for you. You are giving them specific things to do in retirement; goals to work on and achieve; and existing routines to develop for health, relationships and personal well-being. These things will better position them. It’s not enough to have saved plenty and be protected by various insurances.

The reality is, you need both a written plan for the financial and non-financial aspects if you want to take superstition out of the retirement equation.

This is the new narrative for retirement and why a premium will continue to be placed on financial professionals who not only have the training and expertise in this area but also the tools and skills to help clients retire with a realistic approach rather than their fingers crossed and a lucky rabbit’s foot in their pocket. 

Robert Laura is a bestselling author, nationally syndicated columnist and president of Wealth & Wellness Group. He is a seasoned conference speaker, corporate trainer and founder of the Certified Professional Retirement Coach Designation, which focuses on the non-financial aspects of life after work. He can be reached at [email protected].

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