Retirement Coaching – Another Tool For Financial Advisors in the New Economy

Retirement has been undergoing “re-definition” for years, a change intensified more recently by the deepening recession. One result is that the workforce will include far more Baby Boomers of “retirement age” for years to come, as financial assets they had set aside for later life depreciate to levels unseen for decades.

Another result is that forcibly “downsized” Boomers will need to spend more years – perhaps many more years – on the job to make up for compensation that disappeared with their employment. Their need to work becomes a top priority again, and could stay that way Financial coach.

The challenges thus posed to their financial advisors will be with us for some time, as clients work to recover financially and emotionally – and as we work to restore their trust in us. Fairly or not, recession-fueled criticisms of the financial services industry in general have been painted with such a broad brush that it can discolor perceptions – even of those who dedicate their professional lives to protecting and developing clients’ financial position.

No wonder, then, that some financial advisors are in search of new skills and methods to underscore and strengthen their client relationships.

An emerging field that dovetails remarkably well with financial planning presents one of those options. It is known as retirement coaching, and a leading proponent is Richard Johnson, Ph.D., who’s St. Louis, MO, based company, Retirement Options (RO), trains retirement coaches and provides them with related assessments and expertise.

It would be a mistake to pigeonhole Johnson’s work as, most likely, a short-lived response to older clients’ financial struggles amid the recession. That basic necessity aside, other and more fundamental changes help drive Johnson’s vision.

His February, 2009 newsletter to retirement coaches’ paints part of that picture, with implications for financial advisors:

“In this new retirement terrain,” he writes, “we, as retirement coaches, need to shift our mindset away from any notions of a ‘traditional retirement,’ and toward a mindset of a “new retirement” dream.

“We need to redouble our efforts in promoting ourselves not as facilitators of living a life of retirement leisure, because our current worldview of retirement is no longer that. No, we need to position ourselves as facilitators and indeed leaders for those who are looking for something more in life … who are looking for their dream.”

His ideas may not be entirely new to most financial planners. But Johnson’s approach is broad, clearly defined and more formal. He teaches coaches a specific role, using copyrighted materials and instruments he developed, that helps expand the perspective and related choice of retirement-age people far beyond what many in our culture are accustomed to hearing.

He sees the “Golden Years” of leisure, and more pointless leisure, as no longer relevant or even desirable. Dormancy, inactivity, isolation… these and other traditional aspects of retirement just isn’t enough for Boomers.

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