Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein

Last month, I approved the final files for the fifth edition of The New Retirementality. The new edition is a significant revision, including lots of new material. Look for the new edition in your local or online bookseller (and early next year.

However, through those five editions, and over almost 20 years, one theme has held steadfast: the importance of balancing means and meaning when planning for retirement.  And while times have changed over two decades, the importance of balancing work and leisure has not.

In some states, the fastest growing rate of employment is among seniors.

According to a Pew Charitable Trusts study cited in Financial Advisor magazine, 9 million retirees continue to work. To keep things in perspective, that number represents 20 percent of all retirees! That’s an amazing number, driven by a combination of necessity (i.e., not having enough saved) and purposefulness (i.e., staying engaged by staying employed).

In a recent special report based on Nationwide’s annual advisor study, “Successful Advisors: The Year Over Year Trends,” two of the top findings point to the importance of paying attention to more than your clients’ AUM:

  1. Successful advisors put their clients first. These advisors earn their clients’ trust and “support a strict, uniform fiduciary standard”;
  2. Successful advisors commit to the client experience. These advisors look for ways to improve their clients’ experiences from first contact to annual reviews––and everything in between.

These advisors take nothing for granted; they understand that every one of their clients has chosen to work with them—and can just as easily choose not to.

As the industry continues to transition to life-centered planning™, it becomes more and more important to be sure clients see how you are putting them first and provide them with an experience that keeps them loyal. You can start by initiating a dialogue with your clients about how work fits into their plans. This may even be a more important dialogue to have with clients who don’t have to work for economic reasons. Many of your clients will tell you they plan to leave the workforce, but most won’t have a plan for what comes next. “I have plenty to keep me busy” is not a plan.

In the new edition of The New Retirementality, I spend a good deal of time helping readers understand the benefits of continuing to work after retiring, whether that work is paid or altruistic. Here are some things you and your clients should think about when discussing retirement and retirement plans:
If you retire and do the same thing every day with the same people, at the same place, at the same time, with the same result, it’s just a matter of time before reality sets in and every day becomes the same. “Every day is Saturday” quickly becomes a life of those Mondays you used to dread.

  • Very few of us are designed to go from 100 percent to zero, even if we dislike our current occupation. Despite the challenges, work brings purpose to our lives and makes us feel connected.
  • You need to have realistic expectations regarding retirement. Thinking that going from working full-time to a life that involves focusing on only leisure activities gets old quickly—and makes us older in the process. Most of us will be disappointed once we find out that our vision of retirement is not the nirvana we thought it would be.
  • Spending all your hours with your significant other after years of being apart 8-10 hours a day (or more) can lead to some serious friction, and potentially even divorce.“Gray divorces” have surged over the last 20 years.

Many of your clients look at retirement with rose-colored glasses and naïveté regarding the impact on their emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual beings. As their life-centered planner, it’s important to help them enter this stage of life with eyes wide open to the dangers, pitfalls, and traps that can swallow them whole.

Retirement is a wonderful phase of life and should be full of new adventures, experiences, and accomplishments.  It’s the phase where your clients can truly be in charge of their own lives. What your clients bring to the game and how long they want to play is what matters. The choice should be theirs to make.

Working doesn’t mean they need to continue with the same company, or even stay in the same industry. There’s nothing wrong with someone going from being a starting player to a supporting one in the next phase of life, as long as they are somehow, in some way, invested in the game of life.

I would bet any amount of money that your clients need—and want—to feel useful; so be sure they understand that whether they have to work for economic reasons, psychological reasons, or a combination of the two, they don’t get trapped into a life that makes them go from feeling useful to useless.

The new retirementality removes the artificial finish lines and takes the focus off only accumulating assets to living the best life possible with the money one has. More often than not, work is a part of that “best life.”

Everyone is wired differently when it comes to retirement, but there’s one thing we all have in common:  the need to feel fulfilled and relevant.


Mitch Anthony advises financial services organizations throughout the world. An industry pioneer, he is a popular speaker and consultant, and the developer of MyFLPTools, a subscription-based service that provides a suite of discovery tools for financial services professionals. He and Steve Sanduski have developed the Retirement Coaching Program and ROL Advisor to help advisors build a Life-Centered Planning™ practice. A regular contributor to Financial Advisor magazine, Mitch is the author of more than a dozen books including the industry bestseller, StorySelling for Financial Advisors and The New Retirementality, now in its fourth edition. Contact Mitch at [email protected] or visit