I have a neighbor my wife and I affectionately call “The Marching Guy.” Phil is in his late 70s, and come rain or shine, he would complete a brisk walk that looked a lot like marching. Many a morning, we would say, “Hi,” as we passed one another.
Then we noticed that Phil was not around, and we did not see him for weeks. Concerned, we wondered what had happened. Then, “The Marching Guy” began to appear, but with a walker, painfully trying to make one loop around our complex. Clearly, he had had a major life event.
However, Phil underwent an amazing transformation. He replaced his walker with a cane. Then his cane disappeared. Phil worked so hard that he made a full rebound and recovery, which is astonishing considering his age.
During his recuperation, Phil changed from “The Marching Guy” to “The Workout Guy.” He still has a robust exercise schedule (5 p.m. each day, like clockwork), but now engages in a different type of physical training, at the gym. By adapting to his new routine, Phil refused to slack off on his commitment to personal care.
Phil’s situation plays out in the everyday lives of your clients. Given an event or interference in their routine, retirees can lose focus quickly, without realizing it. Post-career life becomes low energy and unoriginal. They may begin to avoid many of the activities in life that keep them engaged. This attitude can breed a sense of emotional apathy and cynicism.
Financial advisors can help their clients avoid becoming “slackers” and instead become “SLACK-ers” by highlighting and using the acronym SLACK: Specific goals, Limiting distractions, Attention management, Calendar planning, and Knowing your energy levels.
Goals can become muted when clients head off into retirement. After so much focus on career objectives, planning detailed personal goals can seem unimportant and trivial. Many retirees try to figure it out as they go along. Talk to your clients about the long-term goals they have established (one to three years) and short-term opportunities (three to six months). Highlight that once you know their goals, you can help them maximize the use of their portfolio.
Phil created some very specific short-term goals to get him physically back on track to some semblance of a normal life.
A tool I use with clients is the Time Management Analysis (TMA). One scenario evaluates how people handle internally generated disruptions commonly known as distractions. Almost 70% of participants acknowledge they can easily lose focus. Just because clients might be headed off into retirement does not mean that they will not be distracted by actions that keep them from living a fulfilling life.
Phil did not allow himself to be distracted from his plan to regain mobility. Do not let your clients get distracted from their financial goals and, as a result, the lifestyle they want to live.
Phil has a desire to remain motivated. He dedicates specific blocks of time to his physical needs. As I mentioned earlier, he is at the gym regularly and rarely deviates from that plan. He manages his attention and places it in the right areas that are important to him.
Do your clients have structure in their life? Can they tell you what an average week in their life looks like? Just over 39% of respondents to the Retirement Time Analysis (RTA) admit to having no sense of formal preparation, planning, and even structure in their daily lives. That lack of organization will have an impact on you as you try to assist them with their finances because their goals may be less clear.
You could be thinking, “Why would retirees need to worry that much about planning on a calendar?” I submit, it is even more important in post-career life that your clients genuinely use a calendar to plan out their life. Just because someone manages time well in-career does not mean that will happen post-career. Those who do not manage time well when working will not improve their use of time in retirement.
While I have not directly asked Phil how he uses a calendar, he has enough “predictability” that there is a formal structure around where he spends his time. The more your clients officially plan their lives with a level of detail, the better financial perspective they will have with you.
Knowing Your Energy Levels
As we age, our physical and cognitive abilities will diminish in some capacity. Phil has had to relearn and redevelop his energy levels. Those heading off into retirement will need to do the same. Post-career life will provide different times for peak energy periods. A structure must be built around a life that lacks the demands and energies needed while in a career.
Showing an interest in the personal pursuits of clients will allow you to encourage them to focus on those activities and bring fulfillment and a sense of newfound energy to their lives.
You Did Not Slack to Get Them Here
After years and even decades of navigating your clients, you are now helping them achieve a post-career life of financial freedom. That post-career life can put them at risk of slacking off on the benefits of retirement life. With an observant eye and some strategically placed questions, you’ll prevent them from becoming lifestyle slackers, improve their client experience, and help ensure they are using their finances diligently.
David Buck is the author of the book “The Time-Optimized Life”, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at email@example.com or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.