I have been in the overall financial planning industry for quite a long time—21+ years. And over those two decades I have had the privilege of being able to sit down with thousands of people and hear the anxiety that people have with retirement issues. Yes, big time anxiety. They are worried and most should be. It is one of the reasons I do what I do professionally. To quell their anxiety and provide those whom I am fortunate to call my clients with solutions for a more enjoyable retirement.
As a licensed financial advisor, I believe that a successful retirement planning program must go beyond providing just facts and figures to help our kamaaina (Hawaii residents) make good decisions. As planners we need to recognize that emotional considerations can override what might be considered rational, logical decision processes. We need to be sensitive to employees fears and concerns surrounding retirement and counteract them with ‘educational’ (not salesy) programs designed to build positive visions of retirement. Through skillful assessment, and quality financial education, we at The Wheeler Group LLC are able to assist employers to increase employee self-confidence and bolster their perceived control over the retirement decision making process.
Hawaii employers can play a vital, critical role in supporting the retirement readiness and educational programs that help employees address the financial issues such as Social Security claiming strategies, generating income in retirement from savings, making the most of pensions (if they’re available) and investment considerations that are tax-relevant to retirees.
In the past, studies have traditionally focused on how finances affect ones decision to retire. But I have long held onto the concept of “life planning,” which invariably involves non-financial factors that have significant impact on the retirement decision. The retirement decision process requires a holistic and integrative perspective that considers factors in all three domains: finances, health, and psychological well-being. Not just financial. It is our lives.
Stanford University developed what they call a 3-D model of retirement decision making. The 3-D model posits that retirement factors fall into three primary (and semi discrete domains), each of which involves a specific question:
1. Can I afford to retire? (Financial)
2. Do I need to retire? (Health)
3. Do I want to retire? (Psychological well-being)
My goal is simply to provide practical advice for improving the retirement decision process. If we are fortunate enough to make your acquaintance, the questions above will be addressed with you. So do not be afraid or apprehensive to reach out to me. You will be surprised. As unique as your situation is; there are some commonalities we all think about—have I saved enough to retire? Can I afford to retire? Will my money last as long as I do? Let’s talk about it.
Consider this: Yesterday, I had a client meeting with a flight attendant who found me online. She commented, ‘you are not that scary…I am glad I called you.’ She is right, I am here to help. Let us discuss your unique situation and see if there is a good fit between what we do for our clients, and exactly what you are in search of from a trusted advisor. We will start by gathering details and discussing ways to revamp your tax planning strategy. Sound good? If so, let’s set up a no-cost, no obligation appointment today. I cannot wait to help you keep more of your money working hard for you.
The Wheeler Group LLC is a registered investment advisor with offices in Honolulu, Hawaii. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and loss of principal capital. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax, or legal advice. If you would like accounting, tax, or legal advice, you should consult with your own accountants or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by The Wheeler Group LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.
Having your assets liquid may feel good because it’s accessible. But at the same time, let’s consider the big, longevity picture. We American’s are all living longer than ever. And when it comes to generating income during retirement, having your assets liquid at all times may actually increase the risk of your assets not lasting for your lifetime.
Your Retirement Mango Tree
Think of all of your assets as one mango tree with branches (your principal) producing enough mangos (income) you need to live comfortably during retirement. In the beginning, you may think there’s no harm chopping off a branch or two (liquidity) for firewood due to the overall size of the tree. But, when doing this you are “double counting” the asset for being equal to meeting two needs. The number of mangos produced would be lower and if you keep chopping off branches, there may come a point when your tree cannot produce enough mangos and cannot grow new branches, ultimately reducing the life of your tree. No more tree, no more mangos.
There are many decisions you will need to make in your life as you enter into retirement. One of the many financial decisions is what to do with the assets you had accumulated for retirement. Your paycheck is ending. It’s up to you to make a new one to last for your lifetime with your assets.
Retirement at Risk
After the market crash of 2008, percentage of American households who are “at risk” at age 65 increased to 51% (2009) from 43% (2004) according to the National Retirement Risk Index.1
Now, think of your assets as being multiple mango trees…
You fence off and give up your access (liquidity) to some trees so that these trees are only there to produce enough mangos to cover your necessary expenses. The remaining trees are for producing mangos and firewood for when you need it.
Under this approach, you have established sources for solely producing income and you also have sources for your liquidity needs.
Create one mango tree or multiple mango trees?
Your view about retirement should be long-term because it is unknown as to how long your retirement years will be; therefore, you should explore financial products that can provide income for your lifetime and that of your spouse’s lifetime. One of the main reasons that you save for retirement is to produce income (mangos) for your necessary expenditures, like paying your mortgage/rent, food and utilities, so you can live comfortably during these years. In addition, a portion of your income should be independent from and not reliant on market performance. Finishing confident is just as important as beginning confident.
Earlier the Better: Create Your Plan Today
Here are some action steps you can take today to better prepare for retirement:
- Understand how your lifetime sources of income work, like Social Security, and explore possible ways to increase these sources.
- Compare your retirement income with the total amount of your expenses — necessary expenses and comfort-living expenses — to see if you have a retirement income gap.
- Purchase financial products that can provide guaranteed payments for life or for the life of the surviving spouse, and that can provide protection for unexpected events.
- Follow a distribution/withdrawal plan by accessing pools of assets at certain points in time during retirement. This can help you lengthen the life of your assets, gain the potential benefit of compounding growth and systematically increase your retirement income when you need it most.
- Work with a financial professional to fully explore your options for developing your income plan for retirement.
1The National Retirement Risk Index measures the amount of American households who are at risk of not being able to support their pre-retirement lifestyle during retirement. This index is calculated by The Center of Retirement Research at Boston College and the report can be found at http://www.crr.bc.edu®