Why ‘Do I Have Enough to Retire?’ Isn’t the Right Question for Retirement Planning

Posted By on Jan 1, 2014|0 comments


It’s a new year, and for many, that means new resolutions. A common one financial advisors hear from clients involves retirement. In fact, “Do I have enough to retire?” is the number one question that individuals ask financial advisors. As a sales trainer for financial advisors, I encourage advisors to think beyond this question. When trying to determine retirement options, the easiest place to begin is to know how much money is needed. This, however, does not address the real outcome. Rather, we should be helping clients identify their WHY—why do they want to retire?

To get to that point, we need to uncover the following:

  • What is your client’s lifetime goal?
  • What does your client want to achieve?

These two questions get us to the ultimate question: Why do we want to retire? This is the question that is often overlooked when advisors are collaborating with clients. Does your client want to retire in order to spend more time with his grandkids, go on a mission with his church or sail the world? When I was growing up, I babysat for a family that had two young boys. I was in middle school, and they liked having a boy babysit who got along with their sons. The parents loved sailing and taught their sons to sail. The whole reason they worked was to save enough money to sail around the world for three years with their sons. The couple had spent three years sailing for their honeymoon and wanted to give their kids the same experience. This was their WHY. They were not going to wait until retirement to sail around the world with their family.

I have a client who loves to make furniture. Consequently, this client wants to retire to spend more time with woodwork and build furniture.

So back to the point about why we should be focusing on the WHY. The reason advisors need to be intentional with helping their clients understand their why is that it helps us recognize how much a client really needs to retire—it helps us answer their most frequently asked question, “Do I have enough money to retire?” When we help them clarify their goals, then we can help them get on the right path. And, more importantly, it also helps clients realize the satisfaction in reaching their goals.

As you can see, there are many benefits to helping your clients understand their WHYs. A perk for you beyond being able to advise your clients more appropriately is that by collaborating with clients, you are creating more value than simply providing a number. This process builds a competitive advantage that other advisors don’t have.

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