Advanced Retirement Planning: Redefining the Big 5-0

When Clients Reach 50, Increase Focus on Retirement Income

by Rich Linton

Mr.  Linton is president of ING U.S. Individual Markets for Retirement Solutions. This retail business provides personal retirement, investment and income guidance and product solutions through ING Financial Partners, a closely aligned and branded broker/dealer with over 2,500 independent registered representatives and a retail investor channel that provides phone-based guidance and support of retirement savings and income needs, including IRA rollovers. Connect with him by e-mail:

Even if your clients are diligently saving for retirement, they may not be focused on the end game – the income that money will produce over the course of their retirement. Your job, as the financial advisor, is to help your clients, even those in their younger years, begin to translate their current (and future) savings into a retirement income strategy. As your clients reach age 50, your planning discussions with them should be increasingly about retirement income.

Why age 50? First, by this point retirement starts to become more tangible and clients can envision what their retirement might look like. They may also be able to estimate what their imagined lifestyle could cost, based on their current expenses. If they know what they currently spend each month, they will be better able to assess whether their projected monthly income in retirement is anywhere close to what they will need.

Second, it makes sense to address the topic of retirement income planning at 50 because there is still time to catch up. With peak earning years still ahead of them, clients have time to shift focus, increase contributions, change their retirement target date or make lifestyle changes in order to save more. Waiting until five years before retirement, makes it much harder to pivot and make changes that can affect retirement in any significant way.

Better prepared to grasp realities of retirement?

Why age 50? First, by this point retirement starts to become more tangible and clients can envision what their retirement might look like

And, finally, by age 50 your clients’ may have life experiences that naturally direct them to focus more on their retirement. Children may be leaving the nest, health issues may appear and clients may have watched their own parents in retirement. Closely observing others living in retirement and experiencing its challenges and joys can provide strong motivation to focus more on their own future. They may have a much better sense of what they do and do not want in their own retirement, and the financial decisions they need to make to help ensure their own plans are realized.

Financial advisors who can make financial planning tangible for investors will have an advantage in nurturing client relationships. You can help your clients reframe the retirement conversation and put together a financial plan that prioritizes needs first, followed by wants such as lifestyle choices in retirement, and finally, wishes such as leaving a legacy for children.

For most people, actively beginning to plan for retirement income starts around age 50, but helping people understand what their savings will produce in monthly income should happen well before that. Many retirement plan providers, including ING U.S., provide a monthly lifetime income figure on quarterly account statements from the time an employee starts saving in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. With the record number of Boomers retiring, retirement income planning is quickly becoming a required skill set for financial advisors who want to retain both clients and assets as their clients’ age.

You, the financial advisor, need to evolve your practice in order to address retirement income and its related topics that may be new to you. Your focus may shift from product solutions and investment performance to a more time-intensive process that takes a holistic, household view that considers Social Security timing or Medicare decisions. ING Financial Partners offers a retirement income practice management program that enables our financial advisors to transition their businesses in order to meet the changing needs of their clients.

It’s not a question of if your clients will need help with retirement income planning, it’s a question of when. In order to remain their trusted advisor, I encourage you to get that conversation started well before your clients’ 50th birthday cake candles are lit.