Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Helping Clients Deal with Retirement Fears

Retirement is a time of change - the adoption of a new life style, being more self-reliant and taking on new and different responsibilities. With such change comes a chance for fear to grow.

Have you ever heard a client say:

"Will I lose my physical or mental health as I age?"
"Will I have sufficient monies to permit me to accomplish my retirement plans?"
"Will disputes or mood swings affect my relationship with my spouse and friends?"

Fears cause feelings of unease and if not addressed, can act as obstacles between a client and a happy retirement. As humans, we all have fears. Fears help protect us. Our fear of being involved in an automobile accident makes us drive within the speed limit, wear a seatbelt and watch for careless drivers. Our fear of falling makes us take extra precaution when walking down stairs.

However, when fears get out of control, they can snare our actions and escalate to the point of overtaking rational thinking. Our fears can paralyze us from trying something new.

To help clients overcome fears about retirement, here are some actions you can take when needed:

1. Stay positive. Remind a client how fortunate he/she is to have good health, a loving family and friends and live in a free country.

2. Acknowledge strengths and ability to adapt to change. Ask a client to think about the changes he/she already managed successfully including surviving adolescence, getting an education, buying a home, raising a family and holding a job.

3. Take responsibility for mistakes. Point out to your client that if she did not make mistakes in her life, she would never have learned to improve.

4. Importance of sharing fears. Encourage your client to talk to others about what bothers him or her. Hearing different perspectives and input may help better understand the fear.

5. Focus on the retirement plan. Underline the importance of building and implementing a retirement plan and moving forward to accomplish what is important.

6. Caring. Remind your client of your willingness to help him/her succeed in retirement; that you are present no only for financial matters but also to act as a coach and friend.

Retirement is one of life's most exciting times; a time for exploration, shift in focus and demand for new knowledge and skills. For most clients it is new territory and as a caring advisor it's a wonderful opportunity to 'ride shotgun'.
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Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don't Just Retire - Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. www.don'tjustretire.com. Twitter: @don'tjustretire