Clients’ Second Acts Follow National Post-Retirement Trend

Advisors help clients make choices now that nearly 40% of men and 30% of women 65-69 are working.

By Patricia McDaniel

For Ariadne Horstman’s clients, retirement from a lifelong career is all about new beginnings — not endings.

In what sounds like a retirement dream for many, Horstman, a CFP licensee, related the story of one client who wanted to retire from tech, move to Paris and take up a new venture.

“I worked with her through the move to Paris and first year there. Then she continued the journey on her own,” she says, although she does still interact with her.

Horstman, the founder of Appreciate Finance, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has other retirement success stories:

For example, one client retired and started doing contracting in the tech field with a goal to earn $50,000 annually, working part time.

“He still works part time, is very happy and has earned closer to $200,000 per year for some years now,” Horstman says.

Another client has retired and is pursuing interests in astrology, spirituality, art and gardening, earning some money through coaching but wanting to wind that down, she adds.

Horstman and two other financial advisors shared examples of clients whose “second act” reflects a wider national post-retirement trend. Labor force participation rates for men ages 65 to 69 reached 39 percent in 2020, up from 28 percent in 1995. Rates for older women rose to 30 percent from 17 percent, both according to government figures quoted in a Kiplinger article on this topic.

Desires, Income Needs Drive Choices

Larry Pershing, a CFP and CEO of Optimum Retirement Planning LLC, observes that in 2015, about 4% of the workforce switched careers, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The need for continued income can be a motivator — but not always — for finding a new career, according to Rick Kahler, CFP, of the Kahler Financial Group in Rapid City, S.D.

Some earn money in their new ventures, which always helps their retirement plan, he says. However “most don’t earn anything significantly meaningful, but they are having a blast and finding new meaning,” Kahler says.

While most retirees make use of their previously acquired business skills, interests can diverge completely.

“One client, who was a multi-millionaire, learned picture framing and worked for minimum wage for a period of time! He loved it,” Kahler says.

Horstman says she has been seeing clients in their 30s, 40s and 50s already planning for their second act.

“They want to retire at 65 or younger and, even if they make less money, do something they want to do. Or work part time. They fully expect to work into their 70s and 80s,” she says.

She has one client, for example, who is 48 and she wants to stop working in five to 10 years and do something else. “And she is planning for it,” Horstman says.

Clients Can’t Ignore Finances

Financial advisors have the tools to assist clients in two important areas: figuring out what is meaningful for them and how much they can spend on a second venture.

Pershing relates his experience in both these areas.

“I haven’t seen a magical formula to find meaningful ways to fill your time other than trial and error. The most important thing is to just get out there and try things. The retired folks I speak with that have struggled to find meaningful ways to fill their time generally aren’t trying enough new things.

“Trying new things that are uncomfortable is difficult. Clients who are successful at it usually start as small as possible. For example, I heard a story about a gentleman who wanted to get in the habit of going to the gym. He started by going inside the gym, and walking around for 10 minutes, and then he could leave. Eventually he built a habit of showing up to the gym and started to add in exercises,” Pershing says.

An advisor can offer clients ideas on how to get more involved with an interest or can ask them to describe times when they have felt really engaged or happy.

“That’s an indication to pursue some aspects of those times,” he says. For example he has a client who recently began writing children’s books.

“She had always wanted to, and after retiring from a demanding job, finally had the time to sit down and make it happen,” he says.

Financial Realities

But financial realities have to be factored in, Pershing warns.

“The biggest piece of advice I have on spending related to meaningful activities and hobbies is to start small. You want to spend as little money on something as possible at first. If you find that you do really enjoy it, and want to make a larger commitment, then you can consider increasing your spending on it,” Pershing notes.

He says having a budget is the key to being able to determine how much you can spend on things in retirement. You can decide to cut back on other expenses that aren’t as fulfilling as your new activity, for example.

“Speaking with your financial professional to determine if you can increase your spending is an option as well. Some clients who are in a good financial position but don’t want to significantly reduce their spending can consider refinancing their home if they are looking to make a larger purchase. Make sure to consult with your financial professional to determine if this would be the right fit for you,” Pershing says.

Kahler also uses “a series of exercises to help clients drill down to what is meaningful for them.” He adds that “of course, we can help with determining how much they can spend on a new venture without endangering their retirement plan.”

Guiding Clients to Pursue Their Dreams

Horstman says she helps guide clients in finding their interests through the George Kinder Life Planning process.

In life planning, the site says, “we discover a client’s deepest and most profound goals through a mindfulness-based process of structured and non-judgmental inquiry. Then, using a mix of professional and advanced relationship skills, we inspire clients to pursue their aspirations, discuss and resolve obstacles, create a concrete financial plan, and provide ongoing guidance as clients accomplish their objectives.” The Kinder Institute of Life Planning provides workshops, intensive trainings and consulting services to financial advisors worldwide.

Horstman says she helps clients “uncover what’s most meaningful to them and then we financial plan how to achieve it. It must work out financially so we do detailed planning to ensure these meaningful ventures and dreams can come true. Often if people are very excited about a goal, they find a way to make it happen. This wisdom is from George Kinder and I have found it to often ring true,” she adds.

In her experience, she observes, one segment of the workforce that seems less inclined to take a different path after retirement is her own: financial advisors.

“I have actually never heard of a financial planner who wanted to leave the business for any reason other than health or age issues,” Horstman said in response to a question.

“I am sure that there are some and it does exist, but it is a very satisfying profession and generally people retire doing this. There is an interesting article on Michael Kitces’ site about the high job satisfaction in this profession. I meet with countless professionals … who wish to change professions or retire or have a second act, but I haven’t seen it so far in my own profession,” she says.

Pershing notes that the average age of a financial advisor is 55.

“Because it is a job that is based on cognitive abilities, there is no pressure for advisors to retire at younger ages. Additionally, with the long-term relationships built from advising, many advisors feel a great sense of purpose getting to help their clients. I hear more often of people career changing into financial advising than I hear of financial advisors leaving their career to pursue a different career,” Pershing says.

Patricia McDaniel is a freelance writer and editor and former journalist with Gannett’s New Jersey newspapers. She can be reached at

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