This year we have looked at how advisors can shape their practice to be even more help to their aging clients. However, it is not only clients who are retiring in droves, but also their advisors!

A 2017 study from Cerulli and Associates found that the average age of wealth advisors in the U.S is nearly 51, with 43% over the age of 55. In fact, there are now more advisors over 70 in our industry than advisors under 30! Cerulli suggests that there are over 100,000 advisors within 10 years of retiring, so the chances are pretty good that you are one of these if you are reading this article!

How much have you thought about your own future?
My experience suggests that though advisors assume that they will retire at some point, most haven’t decided exactly when that day will come. Is it when you are 65, or on some arbitrary date in the future?  Or, maybe you feel that you will address this when you do your business planning at the end of this year…or next?

This question is as relevant to you as it is to your clients: Why are you retiring? Is it because you think you have finally achieved your “number” so you never have to work again?

The concept of retirement has changed for many successful boomers who are reaching their 60s, and being a small business owner brings with it specific challenges.

Retirement and small business owners
A major challenge with succession planning is the lack of an immediate successor.  You may not have groomed someone, or they may have moved to start their own practice. Perhaps a family member was set to inherit your clients but has decided that they don’t have the same passion as you do.

It is tough to pass on your business to someone else if they don’t share your values. After all, many of your clients are more like family than clients. You may feel obligated to stick with them at a time when they need you the most — when they retire.

If you are contemplating selling your practice, consider this: this business of yours has consumed you for a long time — it has become your baby and you aren’t just going to let someone else adopt it by writing you a check. This emotional consideration often gets in the way of logic and can be a huge stumbling block for advisors (and other long-time business owners).

Continuity theory is a term used by psychologists to describe how we handle the aging process. It basically means that as we get older, we tend to fall back on who we are and are less open to change. So, if you have devoted so much time to your business, how easy will it be to simply walk away?

In my experience, many advisors find that they miss certain elements of their work when they retire. Most report that what they miss most is “working with clients and helping people.”

What is it about what you do that you don’t like? 
To manage a successful practice, you have been an entrepreneur who has built a business, a technician who creates strategies, and a manager who looks after clients and staff. Which one of these would you keep if you could and what would you like to stop doing? If you walk away from all three when you retire, how could you replicate what you liked about your work in this next phase of life?

And if you could just do the things you like to do and transfer the things that you don’t, would this change how you think about retiring?

You will have a harder time walking away from it all if…

  • You like most of what you do
  • You have nothing else to go to
  • You have unfinished work
  • You want to help your clients retire successfully

You will have an easier time retiring if…

  • You are tired of being a financial advisor, or feel burned out
  • You have something else to go to
  • You can find ways to stay in your practice and still enjoy the freedom that you have earned

Remember, the longer you work at something you like, the longer you live. This research is unassailable.  Before you think about quitting cold turkey and moving into a retirement life that may not be right for you, consider finding ways to focus on the life you want to live, including the things you like to do now.

You can have it both ways!

Next month, we will talk about how you can retire and help your clients at the same time!


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