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Being mindful about retirement

It's important for advisers to prepare themselves for retirement, rather than adopting a 'wait and see' attitude.

Nov 8, 2019 @ 2:10 pm

By Joni Youngwirth

I recently googled "Joni Youngwirth." Wow — what an experience. The results that came up took me through the history of my professional life, or at least the last 20 years of it.

During that time, I probably authored more than 200 articles on practice management. Curious to see what I had said, I reread and reflected on a selection of them. I was pleased to find that the articles that I pulled still ring true. And it was interesting to see the progression of topics I addressed over the years.

What I discovered led to my topic for today: Why advisers should be ready for mindful retirement.

During the current decade, a lot of my articles originated from calls or conversations with advisers in the field. Increasingly, retirement was looming on the horizon for many of them (and for their clients), and they wanted to discuss retirement concerns, as well as a slew of succession-related topics.

More and more, I came to understand the importance of pivoting mindfully to retirement, as opposed to adopting a rocking chair, "let's wait and see" attitude. Being prepared financially is a big part of retirement readiness, but it's certainly not the only concern.

[More: Succession planning where the adviser keeps working?]

6 reasons we avoid the "R" word

In our rapidly aging industry, many advisers have a lot of trouble dealing with the "R" word. Everyone is different, but often it's due to one or more of the reasons listed below. Some advisers may:

1. Suffer from work saliency — being so committed to their profession that it overtakes their self-identity.

2. Have mediocre physical and/or mental health maintenance habits.

3. Have not taken enough care of financial planning for themselves.

4. Have let relationships fester or have not invested time to grow and strengthen relationships.

5. Be unsure about how to fruitfully use time other than to work and may not have a fulfilling hobby.

6. Have procrastinated so long on succession planning that their clients have started to leave.

[Recommended video: Joel Bruckenstein: Expect new financial planning firms to emerge after so much M&A]

A mindful approach

No matter what generation you are, I think it's a mistake to avoid thinking ahead to retirement. Whether you have a few years to go or many, I recommend taking a much more intentional approach.

Think about mirroring successful methods of practice management, such as setting a clear vision of what you want to achieve instead of letting your life evolve over time like a meandering stream.

Next, you'll need to create the implementation plan to execute on your vision.

Whether you're focusing on your income, your practice or your retirement, each one is just too important to leave to chance. You need to put some serious elbow grease into creating a "what's next" that is worthwhile and meaningful.

Strengthening your relationships is particularly important, because not doing so can lead to loneliness and isolation as one approaches the retirement years.

The power of passion

For me, publishing has always been rewarding because my articles are about my passions. What could be more fulfilling than a career in practice management that allows me to work with phenomenal advisers all day? Feeling lucky, I'm as passionate as ever about my work.

But like many of you, I'm still thinking about how to pivot to the next phase of life. To develop content that's useful to me as well as to other advisers (and their clients), I'm continuing my strong focus on mindful retirement articles, presentations, workshops and blog posts. I'm also deepening my dedication to the power of corporate purpose and industry philanthropy.

I believe that for all of us, there can be good news ahead. As we age, we add not just years but wisdom.

[More: 6 best practices for running your firm]

Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network.

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