With Andrew Haley, Chartered Financial Planner
Before joining Active Financial Planners, I spent the previous two years focused solely on ‘retirement’ advice, unsurprisingly causing me to focus quite heavily on this stage of life and the concerns it can give people. If nothing else, it’s helped me realise I’m ready to retire ‘retirement’ from my own vocabulary, and I don’t believe I’m alone in this.
Two people in my life helped me put this in clear focus. The first is an adviser I had the pleasure of working with at a previous firm. This gentleman was around traditional retirement age. Yet, without fail, he remained the most industrious adviser in our office. He was an all around nice guy, quite literally running in and out every day, visiting clients, shredding, emptying the bins, and generally putting a shift in. We’d often have clients or the local BDM jokingly commenting, “I bet he’ll outlive the lot of you.” And if you were to ask him to this day, I’m sure he’ll still tell you he’ll never retire.
The second influence is my dad. Dad carved a path from humble beginnings to managing various branches of a major bank. I’ve always been proud of this, but I know the commitment took its toll on him. After leaving the bank, we spent a couple of years in the States before returning home, and Dad joined a local accountancy firm. Ultimately, he called time on work earlier than planned because it didn’t make him smile anymore. He found greater joy outside of the workplace and it’s a pleasure to see him make that call.
The reason I draw on these two examples is because they have both neglected preconceived ideas of a retirement age and made decisions based on happiness. One continues for the love of the job, and the other was able to call time when it was right for them (albeit a little sooner than planned). The idea of continuing the grind without passion or working to some arbitrary age surely has little appeal to anyone. I believe the key is to appreciate what a day job can provide us with, and most importantly acknowledge that money is just one part of the equation.
As I’m sure many advisers will agree, I am in the fortunate position that my profession provides me with four crucial elements:
- Money; the all essential pay cheque
- Purpose & pride; getting to change lives for the better with the knowledge and skills I’ve built up over the years
- Structure & routine; a full diary and somewhere to be at least five days a week
- Social interaction; regular interaction with colleagues, clients and business contacts
I fully appreciate how lucky I am to have a day job that ticks these boxes. Because I love what I do, the concept of planning for my own retirement has gone out the window, and instead I focus far more on getting the most out of each day.
That’s not to say I don’t continue to invest in my future self. But as many in the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) community would agree, ‘retiring early’ is not really the ultimate goal. I believe that greater financial independence simply facilitates greater freedom to spend your days doing what you love.
Unfortunately, for so many people we talk with, work is perhaps ticking a couple of the boxes I’ve mentioned at best. But as I’m sure many FIRE advocates would accept, there’s little point to swapping the rat race for a race to retirement. Not only can it lead to sacrificing quality of life in the here and now, but ‘retirement’ without considering the elements I’ve mentioned can quite quickly lead to a sense of emptiness.
A key part of discussing retirement with my clients is illustrating that the process doesn’t have to be a cliff edge decision. I love to show clients how they can bring more enjoyment to their lives through goals like voluntary work, fitness objectives, social activities, or pursuing a hobby with greater passion.
I try to keep all of this in mind when having discussions about retirement and what it means to my clients. What images does the phrase ‘retirement’ bring to mind? The experience your parents had with work and retirement might have significant influence over your own views. As with so many areas of financial planning, asking the right questions is the key to quality conversations and often life changing realisations.
Helping others retire the traditional concept of retirement and create a life that provides greater fulfillment is an incredible benefit when it comes to my own day job. I’m sure it will keep me going for many years to come.