As a financial planning business, we help people prepare for a great retirement. What, exactly, is a great retirement? Well, it looks a little different for each client and we work diligently to understand what each individual client wants and needs so they can live their best life long after they finish working. We’re very clear about financial services and the foresight that is necessary for retirement planning, but many of our clients aren’t so lucky and often come to us with a great deal of confusion and concern about their financial arrangements. This is understandable, of course, as things change so quickly (and often dramatically) in the retirement world and it can be difficult to keep up when you don’t spend as much time as we do staying up-to-date.
More often than not, a client will initially approach us because they have a problem with their pensions or investments. This problem could be any number of things. We hear the following quite often: “I haven’t looked at my pension for a while and need to know what it offers me and if it’s any good” or “I don’t really understand my investments and, as my retirement is getting closer, I think I should get more familiar with what I have” or “I have lots of separate pensions and I don’t really have an idea of what they are all worth and what they mean.” We could go on, but hopefully you get the gist of the average person’s needs, or as we call them, The ‘Whats’.
I’ll just come out and say it, The ‘Whats’ are the result of a slightly unengaged relationship with financial products over a relatively long period of time. The ‘Whats’ often present themselves when a person is nearing retirement and realising they must confront the ‘R’-word’ but may need some help understanding what the ‘R’ word means for them. All of this is absolutely natural, of course, as life is busy and the average person doesn’t have time or ability to monitor their savings. Instead, they spend time doing all the more important (and interesting!) things that make up a rich life and, in their moment of need, they come and see a professional like us. Like everyone, what our clients want more than anything when they come and see us is peace of mind.
Once a client is sitting across from us, we start thinking about The ‘Why’. “Why do you have these arrangements” “Why are they important?” “Why is it necessary to have a look at them now?” We encourage each of our clients to take a step back and consider their financial arrangements in the context of their lives now and their ideal future lives. It’s only when this perspective has been achieved that it’s really possible to start resolving the questions our clients come to see us with and we can start building a clear solution.
Of course, part of our role (and an important one, at that!) is to provide a financial education to our clients and we make it a point to explain what they have in terms that they can easily understand. We also assess if what they have is suitable for them based on The ‘Whys’ we heard when speaking with them. Without personal context, how can we or our clients possibly know what is good or what is not so good? The process isn’t always easy for a client, because retirement and financial preparations are very personal, but we are experts at helping clients understand this process and many of them have said that they found it to be both a rewarding and empowering experience. When they leave our office, they feel in control of their financial arrangements, sometimes for the very first time in their lives!
How can you start calming The ‘Whats’ that may be floating around your mind when it comes to retirement? We encourage you to take some time to sit back and really think about your financial arrangements and what you want when you retire. Don’t get caught up in The ‘Whats’, but instead challenge yourself to spend more time thinking about The ‘Whys’. You’ll find it far more productive and it will help you set a course to a retirement you can truly enjoy.