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As clients and advisors navigate today’s quickly evolving and uncertain landscape, many have had to change previously well-laid-out plans. Vacations, work travel and even some life events, such as weddings, have been rescheduled or postponed due to the novel coronavirus.

Amid all of this, a number of advisors who were planning to retire this spring or even this year may be wondering if they should alter their plans and delay entering their next chapter.

If you fall into this category, it is important to understand the decision to retire remains a personal choice, but consideration should be given to the readiness of key stakeholders in your practice.

Despite the current market environment, much of this decision should still ultimately depend on how well you have planned for the next step, and if your clients, your successor as well as yourself are still ready for this change.

Client Readiness

How well you have prepared your clients should play a paramount role in whether a retirement delay is warranted. Clients, who generally require six months to a year to get used to a new advisor leading them through their financial goals, can and will be OK if their retiring advisor has painted a picture of what life without them will look like.

If you have not begun this process and you are planning to retire this year, time is of the essence. A call to clients to discuss their investment and life goals given the current market environment is a good way to segue into discussing your life goals and your exit strategy.

Successor Readiness

If you have not yet chosen a successor, you may want to consider delaying your plan, given the importance that finding a trustworthy successor plays on the future of your practice and your clients’ continuity of service.

However, if you have chosen a successor, their readiness to step into your practice will depend on whether they have been introduced and accepted by your clients, as well as whether they are equipped to handle the ongoing calls and client outreach, particularly given current market volatility.

While markets will go up and down through the lifecycle of a client’s financial plan, the added client anxiety and the unknowns with respect to this current crisis will require an advisor to maintain a calm demeanor and engage in proactive calling.

You can help your successor in sharing your experiences from past crises and similarly emotionally charged times, assuring them as you do with clients that this too shall pass.

Your Own Readiness

Your readiness not only depends on your personal financial situation, but also your psychological preparedness. The market dip may have affected your retirement savings, but if you have a well-diversified portfolio, you should still be able to retire with financial confidence to handle what lies ahead.

However, if you have not yet thought through how you will spend your days, there is more you should consider before fully stepping away. Retirement can be a significant change in pace and schedule, so preparing psychologically for the next step is just as important as preparing financially.

Focus on setting yourself up for success by answering the same retirement readiness questions that you pose to many clients of your own.

Retirement is a great achievement and a milestone that many people look forward to reaching. Despite the current challenging times, financial advisors can still enjoy the fruits of their labor if they have effectively prepared their clients, their successor and themselves.


Robert Goff is vice president, Succession and Acquisition Consulting, for Raymond James.