Since Part 1 of The Changing Face of Retirement of my blog was posted before the holidays (which seems like a long time ago), I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate a portion of Part 1 to set the stage for Part 2.  Part 1 summarized three research studies released last year about how and why financial planning, and in particular retirement planning, is changing.

In Part 2, I look at the common themes are among these studies, what is missing in these studies, and how understanding these changes can benefit advisor’s clients and the advisory firm.

People are not only living longer, they are living healthier, more actively, and more importantly, seeking continued purpose and meaning. Many want something during this time that is more fulfilling than primarily leisure and play.  Purpose, meaning, health, connection, and legacy are important to this group. For many, retirement could last 25 years or more.  How will clients navigate this transition successfully to make this the best time of their lives?

Since “retirement” is the largest single goal clients are planning and saving for during their working years, and will be their largest “purchase”- it is important to understand this evolution. This transition creates challenges but also offer opportunities that can benefit clients and financial advisory firms.

Note: I put retirement in quotes because the meaning of the word is changing- it is no longer thought of as an ending, but instead a beginning of a new phase- one filled with varying individual challenges and opportunities. The word has a negative connotation. That needs to change.

What the studies referenced in Part 1 are saying is that there is both a financial component to retirement planning and a non-financial component- and the softer side is becoming increasingly more important. Planning for the non-financial side of retirement is as important as planning for the financial side for successful and happy retirement.

I wrote a white paper last year highlighting much of the research from financial industry publications on non-financial retirement planning that came out prior to the studies summarized in Part 1. The paper points out what industry experts are saying about how planning for retirement is evolving and the benefits of providing this type of planning for clients and financial advisory firms. It also includes resources to learn more about non-financial retirement planning.

Retirement planning is two pieces of a puzzle that need to fit together.  You cannot adequately plan for retirement until you know what you are going to do in retirement which involves time and direction.  The physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects of retirement are very much intertwined with the financial.


There is a wealth of fantastic information in each of these studies, and each one makes compelling points.  What are the common themes that can be pulled out of these studies-along with the ones highlighted in my white paper earlier last year?

To answer this question, I collected the notable quotes that were similar across the studies.  Collectively, these points paint a picture of what this means for the future of retirement planning.

Pulling out the common themes is important for: 1) being aware of the challenges and opportunities, 2) understanding how to take advantage of these challenges and opportunities, and 3) developing a strategy for your firm can take advantage of what the research is telling us.

The top 10 takeaways that are consistent among each of the studies:

  • As clients live longer, healthier, and more purposeful lives, financial services firms must consider providing a broader array of guidance and focus to offer the comprehensive planning that people are demanding.
  • Increasing longevity means more people with longer time in retirement- making retirement a more important stage of life.
  • Retirees today want to explore and reinvent as they try new things, form new relationships, discover new purpose, and even forge better versions of themselves.
  • Boomer’s attitudes and aspirations about retirement are changing. They enjoy more opportunities and choices than any previous generation for shaping retirement to suit their needs and expectations.
  • Clients are asking for a broader array of services and advisors need to meet these demands. They look to their financial advisor to provide this non-financial guidance.
  • Having more and deeper discussions about a wider variety of life issues could be a competitive differentiator. The role of the advisor is broader and will continue to expand in the future.
  • Having discussions about a holistic set of topics that move beyond purely financial can be important to clients and strengthen the relationship.
  • Financial professionals add to their value proposition by serving as trusted sources for clients across many life domains and by connecting them with resources they might not know exist.
  • Financial advisors can further enhance their value proposition by adopting a strategy called ”longevity planning.” This holistic approach to planning not only takes into account financial topics, but also considers non-financial matters such as encore careers, later-life entrepreneurship, health, housing, home modification, eldercare, family care, and transportation. Understanding client’s life goals (non-financial) were reported by clients as leading to higher levels of satisfaction with their advisor.
  • Advisors need to equip themselves with the right tools and team to make sure these non-financial conversations take place.

Pulling out the most important information from each of these studies was not easy- there are many good points made and data to back up the statements. A few themes, however, tend to emerge from each of these studies.

  • Holistic and longevity planning that includes non-financial topics is important to clients. It is particularly important when planning for retirement.
  • Value proposition is a term that is often mentioned- clients receive greater value by receiving non-financial retirement planning.
  • Client trust and satisfaction in their financial advisor increases when the conversations go beyond their money.
  • Deeper relationships transpire when money is not the focal point of the relationship. Clients want to discuss these non-financial topics if the advisor is willing and able to discuss them.
  • Advisors need to equip themselves with the right tools, resources, and team to make sure these non-financial conversations and planning take place.


All of the information that has been published in these and similar previous studies is extremely valuable. However it raises some important questions.

The first question that comes to mind after reading these studies is…

“Now what?”

To take advantage of what this compelling research is saying and the opportunity to serve clients more holistically, then it really becomes a question of how can we make use of this information and implement these changes in our firm?

The number of studies referenced in Part 1 and in my white paper about the non-financial side of retirement planning, particularly among the huge number of Baby Boomers, shows that the financial services industry is taking notice- an evolution is under way.

We are hearing more about topics like ”Longevity Planning,” “Wellness (both Financial and Non-Financial),” as well as other ways of describing this type of planning. Each of these takes a more comprehensive approach to helping clients plan a new chapter in their lives. “Holistic” is a term that was repeatedly mentioned in the studies and is beginning to be used more (often overused).

But are firms truly practicing holistic planning if they ignore comprehensive
non-financial planning that ties in with the financial plan being created
for retirement? 

Figure out what retirement looks like (the client’s vision) and then how their money supports this vision.

There is a huge opportunity for financial advisors to add tremendous value by including non-financial retirement planning.  There are too many clients in the pre-retirement and retired demographic for advisors to ignore the need for non-financial retirement lifestyle planning.

Furthermore, clients are seeking guidance beyond their money and are looking to their financial advisor for this type of service. This puts advisors in a unique position to provide this type of guidance.  The research also indicates that younger clients are even more receptive to guidance on several non-financial topics. It isn’t only valuable for Baby Boomers.

One of the best articles about providing non-financial guidance, which I also referenced in Part 1, was this article from MIT AgeLab leader Joseph Coughlin.  In it, he poses this question:

But who teaches you how to live in retirement?

Or for financial advisors…

Who teaches your clients how to live in retirement?

Are they truly ready for the changing face of retirement?

Financial Advisors: Contact me to learn how to help your clients learn how to live a vibrant and colorful retirement. Reid@MyLifesEncore.com or 952-994-8937.