Retirement today has acquired an altogether new meaning, strong enough to render the above quote redundant. One change concerns the timing - it could happen well before the contractual date: one may opt out in favour of a new vocation in prime years or one may be rendered inactive midway for any reason. But more importantly, given the evolving paradigms of a globalised world, one’s retirement also may not be the dead-end it was assumed to be; it could well turn out to be a gateway of new opportunities – commercial or otherwise.
So the first thing we need to do about retirement planning is to rename it: let’s call it Residual Responsibility Planning, Lifespan Management or Longevity Planning as the Americans term it these days. With the new definition, whatever your rechristening choice, planning can no longer remain a simple question of choosing from the typical market offerings like investment options and pension plans – before or after retirement. You need to sketch the likely paths of your current saving patterns, your estimated retirement responsibilities, your health care needs and your current list of ‘touch me not’ funds and how ‘untouched’ you intend to let them be.
Given such a long list of priorities, it’s imperative that your financial advisor should be hired for more credible reasons: certainly not because he/she is right next door, or has sold your life insurance in the past, or comes loaded with professional degrees or is swarmed with celebrity clients.
You need someone who, more than designing the basic ‘dividend-interest’ cash flows for you, will seek contentment in the relationship and help you redefine the financial realities of your fag-end years deprived of the erstwhile pay cheques or working capital and maybe wedded to some new realities to accompany escalating costs and market fluctuations, like waning reflexes and cognitive impairment.
It calls for well-rounded professionals armed with the right blend of talent and temperament. Whether a Young Turk or a seasoned veteran, your advisor should be capable of guiding you on the specifics of your longevity case, beyond executing the perfunctory ‘have-money-will-deploy’ mechanisms.
He/she should take the lead – whether you like it or not – in jotting down to the last granularity - with the warmth of your family doctor and the wisdom of a therapeutic specialist – just about everything from your risk appetite, liquidity preferences, health care needs, future plans of vocation and vacation, relationship status, dependant burden and also likely feuds and obligations post retirement, irrespective of whether you are likely to become a fulltime homemaker of sorts or would turn into a maverick engaged in new pursuits. More than merely focusing on your post-retirement spends; his or her plan should focus on the investment options linked with the potential revenue streams of your twilight years.
Is that asking for too much from your financial advisor? Certainly not! You would be only insisting on what you deserve in the first place.