Financial Planning & the Retirement Earworm. Call for The End.

At last, a headline that helps us progress, moving us to change the later life narrative with respect to the issue of financial planning.

“Longevity planning will be a central mission for advisers of the future.” In a brief July 22, 2019 article in Investment News with this headline, Ryan W. Neal cites their recent roundtable discussion on the Future of Financial Advice, where “industry leaders agreed longevity planning will increasingly play a role in how advisers work with clients, especially in the face of fee compression and automated investing.”

This is a welcomed repeated echo, from my persistent suggestion to financial planners since 2011 that the replacement phrase for “retirement planning” should be “financing for longevity”. My presentation at the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners 16th Annual Conference in June 2018 was titled around just that – Changing Client Conversations Mind-set Shift. Financing for Longevity.

One of my key points for this audience was that this means a recognition of changing patterns in client conversations, related to money and financial management. Conversations need to reflect shifts in generational experiential differences and thus the need to help clients re-frame their attitudes and expectations. The future of financial planning is no longer exclusively a Boomer-centric market.

Financing for Longevity, more echoes  

Neal in his article refers to Joseph Coughlin, founder of MIT’s AgeLab and author of The Longevity Economy (2017). In another 2019 Investment News article comes one more echo in this call – from Coughlin, “(the financial planning)profession is at a new frontier to create an entirely new business around longevity planning….We are done with retirement – the word, the idea, the products, the conversations were really good, for my father. But not for the next generation.”

Another echo from Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott in their book The 100-Year Life (2016). In chapter 7 on Money, they talk about “financing a long life”. Earlier chapter 2 on Financing, part of this longevity planning is geared around “working for longer”. Pensions or no pensions aside, they submit, “The simple truth is that if you live for longer then you need more money. This means either saving more or working for longer.”

If you can dig out as I did, an old magazine – Retirement Choices, from 1994, in an article by P.J. Wade she compares Retirement to a board game fashioned like Monopoly. She talks about how things must change, and that “there is much more to ensuring a secure and fulfilling future than money management.” Nowhere on the front cover graphic of that retirement board game will you see a space for “working longer” placed next to travel, taxes and finance.

Emancipation from the Retirement earworm

Circling back to Ryan W. Neal, he makes a good point that “Advisers of the future will have to be increasingly comfortable working in planning areas beyond the traditional realm of finance, such as with geriatric-care managers and transportation companies.” I strongly suggest that this should read – create a collaborative referral network or partnerships with professionals in these areas and many others he did not mention (elder law and entrepreneurial consultants for example).

Of course, with all these obvious attitudinal and behavioural trends afoot, in the ongoing attempt to help professionals and their clients make a mind-set shift, it is still hard to emancipate ourselves from the long-standing construct of Retirement. From what I observe, as many people that there are on the energized life course wave, there are almost as many people, by choice who still want it the traditional retirement way.

Let just humour ourselves for a moment, put actuarial numbers and morbidity rates aside along with that financial planning software that projects (with all that longevity factoring), age 95 or 100 as our outer limit. As long as financial planning tool grinders and wealth management marketing music continue to blast us with last century’s retirement earworm, we will wriggle with it every time we approach a meeting with a financial planning advisor.

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