As an experienced wealth manager and retirement planning advisor, I find it very challenging when a prospective client somehow thinks I can answer their “Can I retire?” question in an initial one- or two-hour meeting.
I’m sure most fiduciary advisors have been asked the same question, which, as you know, entails a far deeper discussion, mostly driven by actions taken long before we ever meet the client. This important question — which is never easy to answer — entails lots of analysis, projections, assumptions, psychological questioning related to risk tolerance/investing and often turns into a history lesson on the family as well. Sometimes it’s a heart-wrenching answer to deliver.
Let’s review some important questions most investors don’t consider when it comes to thinking about their retirement that fiduciary advisors wish they would.
Question 1: Have You Been Planning for Retirement?
What I find most often is that only a small percentage of investors have actually planned to retire. Most wait, and then start planning when their ages creep closer to 50, 55 or 60. Those that wait are most often the clients who I have to tell that they can’t retire, and that they’ll have to work until at least age 65 or 70 before they can. Investors who prudently and continuously plan financially for all future events are accomplishing more than half the equation for when it comes time for an advisor to answer that “Can I retire?”question. If you don’t plan far in advance, the odds become less and less that you’ll get the answer you want when the time comes.
Question 2: Have You Planned on Your Own or Have You Used a Professional?
Clients who enter my door having planned somewhat in advance for retirement are enormously better off than those who haven’t. However, that still doesn’t mean they can all retire when they want. Poor financial planning generally becomes brutally obvious to clients who thought they were investing/financial experts, compared to those who actually realized they weren’t and hired professional help along the way.