by Mitch Anthony

According to findings published in The Allianz Gift of TimeSM Longevity Study, we can expect to live 30 years longer than our relatives did in the last century. More than half of the study’s respondents reported being excited by the new opportunities this increased lifespan would present. The study reported that all age groups—from millennials to boomers—wanted a different lifestyle—one that wouldn’t necessarily change once they retired. Having the possibility of three additional decades of living certainly changes one’s perspective: 65 percent of respondents didn’t want to wait until retirement to “explore, experiment, and travel.” More than half wanted to continue working into retirement. In other words, most people aren’t looking for a traditional retirement.

There were five reasons respondents gave for not being able to achieve their goals:

  1. Worries about money
  2. Life events (marriage, kids, etc.)
  3. Lack of a clear plan for how to go about it
  4. Fear of failure
  5. Procrastination

While money was the top reason, the rest center on non-financial issues—and number three is what we’re going to discuss in this article: helping your clients develop a plan going forward.

Many couples struggle to balance their individual interpretations and expectations of the retirement phase of life. Unfortunately, that balance doesn’t always right itself. If you have clients over age 50, their chances of divorcing have increased from just 8 percent in 1990 to 25 percent today. That’s not a good statistic—for them or you!

Needless to say, getting divorced isn’t a good way for clients to begin retirement.

Anyone contemplating retirement needs to think about how they focus their energy and time before beginning their journey. This can be even more critical with couples who need to consider each other’s individual and joint needs, and how to balance them.

Financial advisors are not marriage counselors, but as we discussed last month, there’s more to retirement planning than dollars and cents. Advisors are in a unique position to help ensure their clients get retirement planning right—from both a means and meaning perspective. At the end of this article, I’ve included a Transition Worksheet you can use with clients to get the dialogue started regarding the “meaning” side of retirement planning. This dialogue is an essential part of the retirement planning discussion.

What Your Clients Need to Know

There are three non-financial components that clients need to consider when planning for retirement:


Knowing how couples view retirement both individually, and as a couple, is essential. Each spouse represents half of the equation—both are needed to make a coherent whole. Couples who fail to have a clear vision of where they want to go, end up being aimless (and as we saw above, possibly divorced). Since one of your roles as a financial advisor is to help couples fulfill their vision, it’s a natural discussion to have with your clients.


There needs to be equilibrium between the world clients are currently engaged in, and the one they’re about to join. According to 2015 Fidelity Investments Couples Retirement Study, a third of the couples surveyed were not in agreement regarding their retirement lifestyle. We all have exactly 168 hours per week. No matter how much money couples may have, if they do not have a plan for balancing those hours, they will be miserable. Based on my own research, couples haven’t given enough thought to balance—both as individuals and as a couple.


As we discussed last month, work is a critical component to a successful retirement plan, whether that work is paid or volunteer. A 2015 Centers for Disease Control study of Americans over the age of 65 found that not working can lead to overall poorer health. If your clients are looking toward retiring, they’ll want to address the need for work, to some degree, in their lives. If they tell you they just want to wake up and go from there, show them the Centers of Disease Control study!

Life is simply too short to settle for a lukewarm existence. Of course, what your clients spend their lives doing—including in retirement—should be up to them; but as their advisor, you are in a position to help them fine-tune those choices. Becoming their retirement coach sets you apart from almost every other advisor out there.

With introspection, guidance, and persistence, your clients can go on to enjoy a fulfilling retirement that they can both enjoy—thanks to you.

The opportunity for shortsightedness often crops up when couples finally face what they are really going to do once they retire. What we once called retirement—because those who retired stopped working—we now see as a transition. Both money and emotional issues accompany this transition and need to be addressed. You have the opportunity to start a dialogue with your clients so they understand there’s more to retirement planning than choosing investments and balancing their portfolios.

Transition Worksheet

Provide each client a copy of this worksheet, and have each of them circle six activities they would like to engage in from the list below. Have them compare and discuss why they made their choices, and how they can fulfill their visions as a couple.

Travel Exploration Play Write Relax Teach
Go Back to School Education (Yourself) Mentor Someone Learn a New Skill Develop a Hobby Finish Unfinished Projects
Home Projects More Time with Spouse More Time with Family More Time with Friends Start a New Business Continue on Present Course
Consult Part-time Job Connect with a Cause Volunteer Get More Involved in Community Take on a New Challenge

Have each of your clients compare how they currently spend their time, and how they want to spend their time going forward. Their hours for each week should add up to 168. They may be surprised to discover that they don’t see eye to eye, or that they haven’t prepared well for retirement (beyond having invested enough money).

Activity Hours per week (Total = 168)
Currently Family/Friends
Downtime (Facebook, music, etc.)
Personal Growth (Hobbies, learning a new skill, etc.)
Total = 168 hours
Desired Family/Friends
Downtime (Facebook, music, etc.)
Personal Growth (Hobbies, learning a new skill, etc.)
Total = 168 hours

© 2016 Mitch Anthony

Mitch Anthony is the founder and president of Advisor Insights Inc.and the Financial Life Planning Institute, the leading provider of financial life planning tools and programs for the financial services industry.

For almost two decades, Mitch and his team have provided training and development for both individual advisors and major organizations throughout the world. Mitch personally consults with many of the largest and most-recognizable names in the financial services industry on both financial life planning and relationship development.

Mitch is a consistently top-rated presenter who has spoken to groups ranging from 10 to more than 10,000. He has been named one of the financial services industry’s top “Movers & Shakers” for his pioneering work. Through the Institute, he has partnered with Texas Tech University, the University of Georgia, and Utah Valley University to develop financial life planning programs for their undergraduate programs.

Mitch is a sought-after expert for the media, and a regular columnist for Financial Advisor magazine. His columns have appeared on CBS MarketWatch and in the Journal of Financial Planning. His original comic strip “Stanley Brambles, CFG (Certified Financial Guru)”appears monthly in the print edition of Research magazine. Mitch is also host of the daily radio feature, The Daily Dose, heard on over 100 radio stations nationwide.

Mitch is also the author of many groundbreaking books for advisors and consumers, including perennial bestseller StorySelling for Financial Advisors, cited by “Financial Advisor” magazine as the number one “must-read” book for financial professionals. Mitch’s other books include The New Retirementality (now in its 4th edition), From the Boiler Room to the Living RoomYour Clients for LifeYour Client’s Story, and The Financial Lit-KitThe Cash in the HatThe Bean is Not Green, and Where Did the Money Go?. For information on these books and more resources, click here. Contact Mitch at [email protected].