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Friday, August 5, 2011

Retirement Mentoring – A Hidden Secret!

Many of your clients may be retired for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or more years. That’s a long period of time!

As we matured, we worked, raised a family, and had many mentors along the way – our parents, family members, teachers, friends, coaches, business associates, supervisors and managers. They all showed us the way, pointing out the pitfalls in life and helped to steer us around the traps. They encouraged and praised us and they helped guide our actions.

Now your clients are entering one of the most challenging yet exciting times of their life. Retirement is filled with adventure, change and the unknown. Faced with this new part of life, your clients can choose to jump into retirement with both feet, without any planning or discussion, or they can enter retirement fully prepared.

In a recent survey I conducted, it was found 84% of respondents reported they do not have a retirement mentor – someone who has successfully transitioned from work to life after work. In other words, many people are trying to figure out retirement without help from others.

You can help clients find and use one or more retirement mentors.

1. First, get your client to acknowledge it is hard to have a great retirement without help. Point out that one or more mentors can assist in developing the client’s retirement vision and plan. The mentor can play the ‘devil’s advocate’ to help hone the client’s thinking. The mentor can also provide ideas and options designed to achieve your client’s retirement goals.

2. Ask your client if there are one or two people he/she knows who can serve as a mentor. It may be a family member, work colleague or friend, someone who already has created a successful retirement plan or who is already an admired retiree.

3. Discuss with your client what would make them an attractive mentee – someone the potential mentor would like to work with. Have your client consider the following questions:

a. Do I have the desire and ability to accept advice and guidance from this person?
b. Do I possess a positive attitude towards retirement?
c. Would I be appreciative of assistance and willing to risk trying ideas and approaches suggested by this person?
d. Can I feel comfortable and free to disclose personal stories and feelings with this person?
e. Would we be able to share interests and understandings as part of the relationship building process?

4. Once your client has identified one or more potential mentors, encourage the client meet with them individually to discuss the potential of establishing a mentor/mentee relationship. It may be as simple as meeting once every month or two to generally discuss the client’s retirement progress or it may be complex as scheduling weekly or bi-weekly critiques of the retirement plan and actions.

The secret of a good mentor/mentee relationship is for both parties to work towards building an effective and satisfying closeness. Mentoring is similar to other important relationships in life: it must be nurtured to reach its full potential.

Remind your client not to enter into mentoring relationships lightly. They require a commitment of time and energy by both the mentor and mentee if valued, worthwhile results are to be produced. With the proper mix of dedication and caution, mentoring can immensely enrich your client’s retirement and his/her life.

As an advisor, seriously consider being a mentor to your older clients. If you decide to become a mentor, it could be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have. Some reasons for considering becoming a mentor include:

• Gaining gratification in seeing clients succeed and grow
• Acquiring new knowledge and insights of your clients
• Enjoying a feeling of pride
• Deriving satisfaction from positively influencing someone
• Increasing your client’s respect of you as a caring advisor

Well-functioning mentor-mentee relationships are rewarding for both people. It is an opportunity to share insights and experience and for the mentee (client) to flourish by exploring different approaches remaining in control of his/her retirement.

When Donnie was approaching retirement, he knew he would benefit from having a mentor. He asked Ryan, a friend he respected and who had retired 5 years earlier. Donnie and Ryan met regularly. Ryan provided Donnie with insight and observations on all aspects of retirement including how to build a dynamic health and wellness strategy, how to reinforce Donnie’s relationship with family and friends, the importance of a balanced leisure life as well as many other related topics. Ryan asked questions, provided feedback, listened and gave advice that helped Donnie create a solid retirement plan that was both balanced and rewarding.
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. Twitter: @dontjustretire.