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3 retirement planning tips for couples after Valentine's Day

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This Valentine’s Day, most couples likely spent their dinner dates reminiscing about meeting for the first time, gushing over well-selected gifts and commenting on how lucky they were to get a reservation on such short notice. It’s a safe bet to assume that they didn’t discuss their retirement plans.

Naturally, couples spent Valentine’s Day focusing on their relationship instead of their retirement. A strategy for funding the future does not come in a box of chocolates, and certainly isn’t wrapped in red and pink foil.

However, failing to address what it takes to save enough for retirement could result in anything but a sweet surprise down the road. Here are three tips about retirement planning for your couple clients, now that the roses have been exchanged.

(1) Vow to plan together for a better retirement: Studies continue to show that Americans are deeply concerned about running out of money in retirement. This worry is driven by increasing life spans, the fact that fewer employers are offering defined benefit retirement plans and potential challenges for Social Security in the years ahead.

This presents a real need for professional guidance to help couples develop a shared vision. Only one quarter of primary financial decision-makers have a formal retirement income plan, according to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. This means that advisors have the opportunity to provide guidance that can help couples see retirement planning as a chance to shape and help secure their shared future.

(2) Great retirement plans don’t always start with agreement: Sometimes, couples may agree to disagree about their ideal retirement. In fact, nearly one in three couples disagree on their retirement vision and 40 percent of couples disagree about the lifestyle they can expect in retirement, according to 2013 Fidelity data.

Thus, one of the most important services advisors can provide their clients is to build flexibility into their retirement plan, allowing them to change direction as their life evolves. A strategy that can both produce a reliable stream of retirement income to help cover the cost of living and offer flexibility for changing goals can help clients retire with confidence.

(3) A retirement plan is most effective when it provides protection and flexibility: A particular challenge advisors face in retirement planning is ensuring that both single and married clients are prepared for their financial future. Single clients may get married, and married clients may, unfortunately, divorce or be faced with the unexpected death of a spouse or partner.

When considering the unique needs of your clients, seek annuity options that can provide greater retirement income, but are also adaptable to change and minimize the number of tough, upfront decisions that need to be made at contract issue. Products that offer high levels of customization can help reduce the stress of making permanent decisions prematurely.

When it comes to retirement planning, where one is going can be less important than having the resources to get there. It is critical that advisors help their clients build a flexible approach to retirement planning that ensures a lifestyle that works for both partners. And that is worth far more than any box of chocolates they might share, now or later.

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