Retirement is an Outdated Social Construct

June 7, 2022

By: Clinton Miller, CFP®, Advisor


I am going out on a limb in saying this, but here goes:


Retirement is imaginary. It’s a solution in search of a problem.


The Financial industry assumes your Retirement™ goes like this:  You work hard over a 45 year career.  During this career, you save diligently. You invest those savings wisely. In your late 50’s, you make a Retirement Plan™.  You retire at age 66.  Your investment portfolio is all that matters.  You never work another day in your life; you spend your free time with your grandchildren, play Canasta, and visit Florida.  All is well, you won’t have a care in the world, as long as you don’t mess up your Retirement Plan™.


Financial advisors LOVE arguing the details of how this works for you.  We argue over solutions, we argue over investment approaches, we argue about how we get paid.  We do this to differentiate from our competition and because we’re frail and insecure.  Financial advisors are human beings, after all.


However, we’re all pushing the same concept, and I wish we would just get over ourselves.  Real life doesn’t work this way for most people.


Transitioning out of a career is complex. There are many changes. New emotions arise and old emotions are unearthed. Also, your money is involved, with its own attendant emotions and realities.  This isn’t a one-time event!  You can’t just buy a product to solve it.  A plan you make in a few 1-hour meetings may not make sense five years, two years, or even 6 months from now.


When a client is ready to retire, here’s what we should be talking about, instead of fee-splaining or poring over portfolio changes:

  • What really matters in your life?
  • If you died tomorrow, what would that mean about your life?
  • What would boost your satisfaction, connection, and richness in life post-career?
  • How can we make your money serve this vision, instead of the other way around?
  • What needs to happen next?

Whenever we meet with our clients, we try to revisit these questions.  The world is ever-changing, and most people’s lives are not static. Our aim is to always look forward and build clarity with our clients.  It’s easy to get stuck in the complexity of the moment or the mistakes of the past.


Great clarity empowers smart, confident decision-making about the things that matter.