Retirement, work-life, sign post, direction on a field with blue sky

Playing into client hobbies, interests and aspirations can result in personalized retirement plans that build loyalty as well as returns, says the head of a career transition organization.

Scott Armstrong, CEO of Vancouver-based Mind Switch Training Inc., said advisors need to help their clients imagine what retirement could look like so they become excited about the possibilities.

In many cases, that will mean engaging in deeper conversations about their clients’ passion projects, and turning on their “interest radar” to uncover activities and goals that will elicit client commitment to a financial plan.

Speaking at the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners’ (CIFPs) conference in Niagara Falls on Wednesday, Armstrong said taking client conversations beyond returns and tax efficiencies can translate into positive outcomes for everyone.

“You’re making people feel visceral things,” he said. “When people feel really good things, they tend to stick with them.”

That approach can also generate new business, he added.

“People are living longer now. That means your clients can have two, three or four decades of vibrant living,” he said. “If you’re the one who helps them get on a great retirement plan that lights them up and gets them excited, they’re going to talk about it. That’s where referrals come in.”

Often the key to discovering a goal for later life is to inquire about a client’s interests from their youth.

Armstrong told the conference about a friend who, at 59, was recently retired with a generous pension and a healthy portfolio. When the client called Armstrong with concerns about how he’d spend his days, Armstrong remembered how he used to manage a music club in Toronto during their high school days. Armstrong asked him if there were any music festivals where he now lived.

“That’s all it took,” he said. The client reached out to the organizing committee of a local festival and is now happily involved in a fulfilling post-retirement project.

But it’s not just about avoiding boredom, Armstrong said. A key component of retirement planning is promoting health and vitality.

“That can become a real challenge,” he said.

Having a purpose in retirement can contribute to mental sharpness and sustained physical strength, he said. For example, a client’s purpose or identity might revolve around organizing or participating in physical challenges like hiking, running or kayaking.

“Help rewire clients’ mindsets so that when they think of their retirement,” Armstrong said, “they think of it as their winning lottery ticket — a ticket they can use to explore their passions, both big and small, with more resources than they’ve ever had.”