Don’t just sort of retire

If you’re like most financial advisers, the bulk of your guidance revolves around retirement planning — helping your clients achieve financial independence and then transition into retirement.

But what are your plans for retirement?

We live in an era in which people are working longer. The primary reason for this is that most careers (and even our day-to-day survival) no longer depend upon dangerous or crippling physical labor, so our bodies don’t wear out as fast.

While the physical changes of aging aren’t pleasant, doing work that is intellectually stimulating and also benefits others is undeniably rewarding. Further, the longer you’ve been doing something, the easier it becomes.

In my communications with advisory firm principals, it’s clear that many of you find work enjoyable and are in no rush to stop. Case in point, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. says there are more active CFP practitioners over age 70 than under 30. 

I find that remarkable. 

As advisers, we work with a lot of clients who don’t love their jobs, have little control over their schedules and frankly, are burned out. These folks come to us to figure out a retirement plan so they can stop working as soon as possible.

But the people who master our profession often feel differently. Many of us reach a point where we have a solid book of clients who provide an ongoing revenue stream. Because the clients have been with us for years, they tend to remain loyal.

Rather than stop working, many retirement-age advisers simply “retire in place.” They ostensibly maintain their practice or firm, but they work and serve their clients progressively less and less.  

This may seem like a decent set-up, but are the interests of the clients really that well served if you aren’t fully engaged or accessible? What happens to the clients if you suddenly become ill or die? 

[More: Being mindful about retirement]

A better, more equitable and sensible approach for all — and one I’ve seen work time and again—is to merge with a larger, growing firm, rather than flickering out.

By partnering with or selling to a larger firm, you have much more freedom and greater satisfaction in your retirement years. That’s because all the headaches of running a business are off your plate. You no longer need to deal with employee and operational issues, and your clients can be well looked after when you are traveling or don’t want to work. Further, your employees can see a future and can grow in their careers because they are part of a larger, expanding entity with greater opportunity.

You’ll probably also find that you feel professionally reinvigorated.

From an economic standpoint, a creative partnership will also yield the greatest long-term value, particularly if you become a shareholder in the larger organization. 

Just because you have no plans to retire doesn’t mean you should ignore the importance of planning your future or disregard the interests and futures of your loyal clients or staff.

[More: Hiring to achieve strategic growth]

Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with $8 billion in AUM.

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