It’s no secret that the biggest focus on retirement planning has been on how much your clients have, and how much they’ll need. It’s a critical issue—if your clients don’t have enough money once they retire (even if they choose to continue working on a part-time basis), they’ll end up facing unnecessary challenges just to get through each day.

While it’s an essential element, money is only one piece of the puzzle that is retirement planning. If your clients believe focusing only on having enough money will solve other challenges or somehow bring meaning to their lives, they will surely be disappointed. And if they’re disappointed, you’ve just given them a reason to look for another financial advisor.

In a recent article in Kiplinger’s, the authors highlighted several non-financial keys to a successful retirement––none of which were impacted by the size of their retirement portfolios. Most of the attributes are ones I’ve already discussed at length in The New Retirementality, including:1) paying attention to physical and mental health; 2) having a purpose; and 3) continuing to be a lifelong learner. In other words, retirees don’t have to stop “living” once they stop working. In fact, my own research shows that the most contented retirees continue to contribute whether they work part-time, volunteer, or even start a new business.

What does this mean for you as an advisor?

Asking the right questions can make a difference between being able to provide a customized financial plan for your clients, or simply checking boxes and offering generic advice. Your clients may end up with an adequate financial plan but lack a financial life plan that is unique to their needs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the most successful advisors address both the financial and personal pieces of the retirement puzzle. Think of it this way: when your clients feel like you are treating them as individuals and not simply another AUM, it stands to reason that they’ll invest more with you—and recommend you to people they know.

Here are four questions to get the dialogue started; you may find that you only need to ask the first question to get the ball rolling:

1. What observations have you made, and what lessons have you learned from watching others retire? By asking this question, you give your clients permission to articulate, first and foremost, what they don’t want their retirement to look like, and secondly, to begin thinking about successful retirees they have observed. This question has proven to be a great conversation starter and gets stories flowing about the dos and don’ts of successful retirement living.

2. Are you sure you want to fully retire? According to a recent F&G Annuities survey, 43 percent of respondents want to continue to work because of the social aspect (compared to 40 percent who need to for financial reasons). The enjoyment of work and the desire to stay involved to some degree is by far the greatest motivation for the oxymoron “working retiree.” Many retirees end up bored: they never realized how much they would miss working until after they’ve quit. In the research my coauthor Scott West and I conducted for the newest edition of Your Client’s Story, we found that advisors’ clients were surprised to learn that they actually rated the lifestyle benefits higher than economic ones.

3. What will your life in retirement look like? Far too many retirees are adrift on a sea of aimlessness, monotony, and discontentment. They found freedom from their old job and routines but didn’t sufficiently contemplate what that freedom could lead them toward. A simple differentiator between retirements that flourish and those that flounder is straightforward: those that flourish retire to something while those that flounder retire from something. Retiring into a vacuum of activity and personal and social connectivity is not going to do the trick.

4. How do you feel you can make the most of the years ahead of you? Research on successful aging points to three noticeably clear lifestyle guideposts: 1) connecting with others; 2) challenging oneself; and 3) contributing to others.

These lifestyle factors are of interest to those who want this stage of their life to be the most fruitful one of all. If the goal is to strive for transcending dividends in this stage of life, it will lead to some pertinent life questions––all of which also have financial implications:

• With whom are you most looking to make connections?
• How will you continue to challenge your intellect and faculties?
• What causes are you hoping to assist?

This hypothetical query can launch another powerful dialogue: “Imagine you are now 90 years old. Looking back on the last 25 years, what have you accomplished for yourself? For others?”

After the past several years, chances are your clients are nervous about what the future might hold for them. Asking these questions helps give them permission to rethink their plans or pursue them differently than they may have originally envisioned. Conversations like this take the “tired” out of retired and leave only the “re.” That little prefix can mean a lot of things: regenerating, renewing, reinvigorating, or rediscovering—anything but resigning and reclining.

Every vision of retired life is unique: it’s your job to understand the life your clients want before beginning the process of helping them figure out how to pay for it.