From the April 2007 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

The Wave

The big wave is starting to break. I'm talking, of course, about the wave of baby boomers who are just now beginning to retire. That may account for the new banks going up on practically every street corner and the consolidation of many small financial companies into huge conglomerates. All to better service the commissions -- I mean the needs -- of the soon-to-be blue-hair generation.

As fate would have it, there happen to be a great number of financial advisors who are boomers themselves. And many of them are also about to retire. I know, I know . . . it's hard to believe that someone would want to give up the world of P/E ratios, financial statements and asset classes for playing golf, riding Harleys and square dancing. Yet, unbelievable as it may seem, the hoedown has already begun.

My financial advisor of the last 15 years recently informed me that he was moving from the frigid North for warmer climes and was leaving behind the bulk of his practice. He was going to continue working with a handful of clients (in between tanning sessions) and planned on being in his new office at least a couple of weeks a month. He made it sound so good I wanted to go shopping for cocoa butter.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm really happy for him. And, believe me, if anyone ever needed a tan it's him. But I couldn't help but think about how his decision affected one of my favorite people: me. Would I still be able to call him every time Jim Cramer shouted an insult about one of my stocks? What if I needed to liquidate some cash to bail one of my kids out of jail? What about Vegas? So many questions were dancing through my head.

As I discussed my concerns with Benedict the Broker, he assured me I would always be able to reach him if I needed to. If he wasn't in the office, his staff would always know where he and his putter were. He told me I could call him anytime I wanted, except during his T'ai Chi class -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:15 to 1:30.

I couldn't help but notice, however, that he sounded a little different. Was it happiness I heard in his voice? No, that couldn't be. After all, was it really that bad sitting in the frozen tundra 24/7 fielding questions from irate investors after the 2001 market crash? OK, that was a stupid question, I know. But, c'mon, the good old days are back again, right?

Maybe the truth of my seeming discontent is that I'm a bit envious. Here's a guy who has been doing the same thing for the same company for the last 25 years. Day in and day out, you could always count on him being there. He has always played it safe, keeping all of his life shots right in the middle of the fairway. Now, all of a sudden, after 17 flawless holes, he's going for the green? How crazy is that?

Maybe that's the legacy this baby boomer wave will leave behind. Forget the traditional retirement. These boomers won't be content going quietly single-file into the nursing home. They're going to go in tattooed up and riding Harleys.

As much as I hate change, perhaps Benedict is on to something. Life doesn't go on forever, and, at a certain point, before arthritis sets in, you've got to pull that Big Bertha out of the bag and let one rip.

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Once a mildly amusing comedian and a recruiter for a top independent broker-dealer, Bill Miller now works as an industry wholesaler; reach him at writingbill@mac.com.

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