Generally we work with clients in two areas of retirement planning.
The first area is for those clients that are a substantial number of years away from retirement. Saving for retirement for these clients has become a more pressing concern than ever before. Companies are putting the burden of funding pension plans largely on their employees, the Social Security system is straining under the burden of an aging population, inflation erodes long-term investment returns, and life expectancies are longer. Aging baby-boomers are feeling particularly squeezed -- many are trying to save for their children's college educations and their own retirements, while supporting their elderly parents at the same time. Personal savings will have to fill the gap between pension and government benefits and actual retirement needs.
The second area of practice is for those clients that are nearing retirement age. For these clients, the accumulation stage is largely complete. In planning for these situations, structuring assets, determining the best timing and source of retirement plan distributions, projecting potential outcomes, and assuring benefits which are lost at retirement (for example, medical insurance) are replaced are primary concerns.
Setting specific goals should be at the heart of the overall retirement planning strategy for either type of client. That means figuring out when the client wishes to retire and what kind of lifestyle it is realistic to expect in the golden years. Those answers will, in turn, help determine how much money will be needed at retirement and what type of asset allocation will be appropriate.
If projections show there is a financial shortfall in retirement, there are several choices: retire later, retire on less, save more, or improve the rate of return. If the first three options aren't practical or desirable, investments that have the potential to improve the rate of return should be considered if the client is willing to accept higher risk along with the potential for higher returns.