Matthew and Janet found themselves in the enviable position of retiring in “comfort”. Matthew had spent his entire career of 40 years with the same firm, and had done an exceptional job of diligently saving and investing for his retirement. Though he wasn’t paid a lavish salary, he had been able to put his three children through school, had paid down their mortgage, and he had been able to treat his family to a few nice vacations along the way. In almost every way imaginable, Matthew had followed the textbook rules for frugally living within his means, and now he wanted to know if the retirement he dreamed about was available to him.
Matthew and Janet, however, were concerned about three things. First, Matthew didn’t trust himself to manage his own money, now that it had become substantial in his mind, and because he recognized that investing and markets had become very complicated. Second, after a lifetime of scheduled work and regular pay, he was uncomfortable with the idea that his checking account might not see that regular deposit on payday. Third, he had no idea how much of his portfolio he should spend, being terrified of losing or overspending what he had worked a lifetime to gain.
Part of being a financial advisor is helping people work through transitions in their lives. Some people are relatively unburdened by change, while others become very stressed and worried when their routine is changed. A good financial advisor recognizes the position of trust they maintain also allows them to be a friend, a coach and a mentor to their clients, in addition to helping them with their investments and their finances.
Janet, being a little more relaxed about her husband’s retirement, was comfortable and even excited at the prospect of her husband leaving work behind for a more carefree lifestyle. In her words, she was “ready for them to focus on the grandkids, not on rush hour traffic.” Matthew, however, wanted to “dip his toe into the retirement waters, not do a belly-flop into the deep end of the pool.”
Through a series of talks, calls, meeting and lunches, we were able to get at the heart of Matthew’s concerns – that he was uncomfortable with change and that he wasn’t sure how he’d keep busy when he didn’t have a regular, full-time job.
The solution for them was to help them create, and implement, a transition plan, which included consolidating their investments into a few accounts rather than having them in multiple places. They also needed to have their investments restructured somewhat to provide the income they needed. They also needed help dealing with his pension plan, something which many people don’t have today – a legacy of companies from decades ago. Finally, and simply, we set up his investment accounts to transfer funds into their checking accounts so he could maintain his steady cash flow. In the end, by working together, we helped Matthew and Janet “feel good about Matthew’s decision to retire, and (we) helped make that transition easy.”