What if clients had to audition for retirement like in the shows The Voice or America’s Got Talent? Or what if they had to pitch their plans to a group of experts like Shark Tank? In other words, clients would have to be approved, or sent through to the next phase of their life instead of just heading in that direction and hoping for the best. 

Can you imagine what someone like Mr. Wonderful or Simon Cowell might say if they didn’t think someone was adequately prepared?

“You’re dead to me, you’ll never make it.”

“My ears are bleeding from that, just go back to where you came from.” 

Or how might a client feel if they shared their retirement hopes and dreams but no one turned their chair around.  Blake Shelton or Kelly Clarkson might be more sympathetic, but the message would still be the same: You’re not ready. 

You have to admit, it’s a pretty funny idea and would be a perfect Saturday Night Live skit. But let me push the issue a little farther because I feel the idea of putting more parameters around people before they make the big jump could be extremely beneficial. 

Take Shark Tank for example. One of the greatest things that this show has done is taught people how to think like a business owner. Contestants need to be able to appropriately value their business, discuss sales, costs, margin, marketing and more. 

The people who come in prepared to cover these things tend to do much better. Which is interesting because now that the show is in its 10th season, all that someone would need to do in order to improve their odds is watch a few past shows to get a grasp of what they are looking for and position their company in such a way.

Everyone knows the first question from the sharks is, “What are your sales?” Which is followed by questions about costs, distribution deals, patents and plans for the new money. It really isn’t rocket science, but it seems that on every episode, someone shows up without a clue to this. They simply hope their idea is so good, or that they are so convincing that the sharks will just jump on board without any of the essential elements that got them to where they are. 

Ironically, the same thing can play out as people enter retirement. They show up to your office without a hint of all the things it’s going to take to be successful at this new phase of life. Yes, they may have a good answer to what their sales are in terms of how much money they have saved for retirement, but few people can nail down the real costs of retirement in terms of what they will lose when they leave work. 

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