The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2060, nearly twenty-five percent of Americans will be age 65 and above. At the same point, the number of people age 85 and older will triple. What will they all be doing in those long retirement years? If they live into their 90s, will they run out of money?
Many who have not saved enough ultimately find new jobs. Working in retirement is something to discuss with clients who are aging, have set a retirement date and have no answers to what happens if they outlive their savings. The advisor is not a miracle worker who can stretch their dollars beyond what is reasonable with prudent investments.
Maybe some clients will consider seeking a “not too big” job that is relatively easy, compared with what they did in a prior career. For the advisor with a client whose invested assets have a predictable length that does not match life expectancy, it is wise to help them plan how to keep their dignity as they live longer than they thought possible. That is through producing some earned income, even if modest.
If an older client is determined to retire from a stressful job, that’s fine. No one needs high pressure forever. But every job is not stress filled and some are more satisfying than others. The stereotypical image of a retired elder serving fast food is not for everyone, especially for educated clients who may have more interesting choices. For some retirees, long stretches without structure lead to isolation, boredom and even to depression. The routine of some kind of work relieves that risk and can bring enjoyment a person never had in the prior career.
Some may need the double benefit of bringing in money while finding ways to be with others. Elders certainly don’t need to go from one job to another at the point of retirement, but the holistic retirement plan for a person with modest investments should include some form of earning money through work. Your client may expect that family is willing and able to provide financial support if the client runs out of money. This prospect does not appeal to many younger families who are still supporting their own children and saving for their own retirement. They fear the idea of having to support aging parents and rightly so.
Imagine a client finding something to do in retirement that pays and something the client likes. Here’s an example.
My 30-something daughter is a regular Uber user who likes to converse with her drivers in San Francisco. She reports that three of her drivers in past two weeks were over age 65. One was age 80. He told her that he had retired from a union job at age 65. His wife had passed away and he got withdrawn and bored, having no sense of purpose. He worked part-time as a warehouse floor worker and cashier. He liked the walking and being around people. He worked another few days a week driving which he enjoyed because it kept him sharp, using the app, navigating around the city, keeping track of the best ways to get places, and most importantly, he liked chatting with his passengers.
Longevity creates a pool of older workers available either part-time or full-time, not necessarily expecting a benefits package and having no lofty career aspirations. Employers in a broad variety of service fields can benefit, as can the potential workers. We have met elders at AgingParents.com who have gotten a teaching credential after retiring from a high pressure career and are happily teaching part-time. We have found others who are mentoring in businesses, working in nonprofits, doing childcare, working in retail and otherwise using their natural talents while earning a paycheck. These were all part-time positions and all were glad to be doing them.
Discussing the possibility of working with your older clients should include when in retirement the client should consider doing it. Physical and mental loss of ability can preclude work of any kind, even volunteering. They can’t necessarily count on being able to work in the later years of retirement when they may run low on cash. Someone might be fine at 70 and impaired at 85. The time for planning an appealing part time job is in the earlier stages of retirement when the client is feeling good and is not impaired by health problems.
If your client has a modest portfolio that with a conservative drawdown would only last 20 years and life expectancy is 30 years, you need to encourage working. Take the axiom “know your client” to a realistic individual plan for living long with sufficient means.
If you have trouble with these sometimes emotional, difficult conversations, contact us at AgingInvestor.com for a private one-on-one consultation so you can get the job done.
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