How Can a Financial Planner Help Me Retire? Part 2

In last week’s (lengthy…) post, I explored how a financial planner can help you plan for your retirement.  

In it, I defined the three stages of retirement planning (Planning, Jumping and Landing) and described the different ways we can help. From keeping you accountable, to mapping out your current trajectory and improving your financial portfolio, there are a lot of ways an adviser can help! 

It’s not all just superannuation contributions, investment plans and budgeting… 

This weeks post, though, is all about the second phase of the retirement planning process – Jumping.  

Jumpin’ Jumpin’  

If you think of planning for retirement like bungee jumping, you can see how I’ve come up with the names for the phases – it wasn’t just to squeeze in a Destiny’s Child reference in this post.  

The Planning stage is the first part – the drive to the bungee centre, walking to the bridge and standing still while somebody straps you in. All the time, desperately hoping they’re doing it right.  

It’s toddling up to the edge, sneaking a look down and trying not to remember all of the horror stories you’ve heard about detached retinas and whiplash.  

It’s standing there, waiting for somebody to count you down as you prepare to leap off into a terrifying, thrilling future.  

Jumping is, obviously, what comes next.  

It’s the actual act of diving into the future, trusting that what’s gone before – the Planning phase – is enough to get you through the terror and into the adrenaline-fuelled excitement of being free.  

But let’s not downplay how much effort and concentration is involved in propelling yourself off a perfectly good platform – or out of a perfectly good working life into retirement.  

Jumping, generally, requires less work to happen – but requires a huge amount more emotional commitment, so can be even more confronting.  

Can You Handle This? (Yes, You Can)

Because this is when all of the fears, uncertainty and worries come to the fore.  

What if I don’t have enough? 

What if I haven’t done enough? 

What if I hate it? 

What if I get bored? 

What if I lose all my money? 

What if I’m only valuable so long as I’m working? 

What if, what if, what if.  

These worries and fears mean that ‘Jumping’ into retirement can be nerve-wracking if the Planning work hasn’t been done.  

Which is why we emphasise the benefits of a good, long Planning phase – it takes the power away from these worries. They’ll still be there, but they won’t be deeply powerful as they would be if you’re completely unprepared for retirement.  


I Worked Hard and Sacrificed To Get What I Get 

The main benefit of this is, of course, feeling confident about your path into retirement. You’ve done the work – now it’s time to get things done.  

And it’s been work – you’ve sacrificed, and prioritised, and traded off, and struck the balance between ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’.  

Now you’re at the edge of the platform, taking deep breaths as you work through the final checks. 

After all, this phase is all about tweaking your arrangements, making sure you’ve taken advantage of all the opportunities our system affords people leading into retirement and preparing yourself for the huge changes you’ll be experiencing soon.  

Which, sure, means it’s not an ideal time to be putting plans in place, because you probably won’t have enough time to execute them properly. Plus, the limited timeframe also limits the opportunities you’ll have access to. 


Nuts and Bolts 

Even so, there are quite a few ways financial advisers can help you in this phase: 

  • Map out your financial future. 

We can use what we know about you and your situation to map out the likely trajectory you’re on – where you’re likely to end up in the future, in other words.  

This lets us illustrate to you the impact of different decisions you might face. What would it mean if you retired six months early, for instance, or if you sold that investment property before you retired instead of after. 

Having this model of your financial life makes this process easier, faster and – if I can say so – a lot more valuable. 

  • Help you prepare for the big financial changes ahead of you. 

You will – hopefully and most likely – only retire once. It is a momentous occasion in your life, one of the big lines we have in life that signifies ‘before’ and ‘after’.  

So you will have questions, you’ll be nervous and you’ll be juggling a whole bunch of thoughts.  

But your financial planner has helped many other people walk this path. While they’ve not retired themselves, they still know the way.  

They’ve helped people decide what to do with all of their annual leave.  

They’ve set up pensions for people to live on in retirement.  

They’ve helped people choose caravans, or cars to tow them.  

They’ve run the numbers on downsizing, upsizing, sea changes and tree changes.  

They’ve answer questions similar to the ones keeping you up at night quite a few times before.  

So we can help you prepare for these big changes – both financially (getting your affairs set up properly) and emotionally.  

  • Stress test your upcoming reality.  

Combining these two areas – mapping out your future and helping you prepare – can also mean that we try to ‘break’ your financial model.  

In other words, we can show you what needs to go wrong for things to seriously go off the rails.  

This is most useful for the truly secure, because it can be incredibly useful to see just how unlikely your worst fears can be.  

But sometimes it can show up some vulnerabilities in your financial position, which can be awfully confronting.  

  • Improvements 

There’s also the final suite of recommended improvements, which involves: 

  • A final product portfolio check 

  • Referring you to a specialist for a full debt review/plan 

  • Making sure your superannuation is able and ready to work for you in your retirement. 


Choosing an Adviser (No Scrubs) 

A quick step aside here – I’ve written before about how you can choose a financial planner to work with on your incredibly-important-only-get-one-shot-at-this retirement plan.  

I won’t rehash the points here, but I will say that you need to be comfortable with the person you choose to work with.  

This should be a longer-term relationship, predicated on trust, competence and commitment.  

You want somebody who understands you, not just your money, and who can feel comfortable talking to about important, personal, almost intimate stuff.  

If it takes a while to find the right person, so be it. This person will be by your side as you walk through one of the biggest personal transitions you’ll ever face – you want to make sure it’s somebody you can have an enjoyable conversation with! 



The third and final stage of your retirement plan is, hopefully, the longest and most enjoyable one – landing.  

To return to our bungee jumping metaphor, this is the period between when you first hit the bottom of the jump to when they lift you back over the edge of the launch platform (or you stand up in the boat).  

It’s the stage where you realise there’s nothing more you can do, so you might as well enjoy the ride.  

You’ve left work and now find yourself bouncing through the first exciting twelve months of retirement.  

You’ll be buying your new car, paying out the mortgage, moving to a fixed income, applying for the Age Pension, booking that trip, buying that caravan, becoming an unpaid child care worker, changing your sleep schedule, catching up on those books, seeing friends, visiting family, volunteering, not missing the dramas of work, pinching pennies, and generally moving on with your life.  

All of the work you’ve put in before this – the uncomfortable conversations with your adviser, confronting your financial realities, making balanced money decisions and sticking to your priorities – will all start paying off in this stage.  

You’ll still be worried about money, to be honest that will probably never go away. But you’ll also be able to recognise when your worries are on the mark, or are being driven instead by emotion. 

The Diminishing Role of Advice 

How can a financial planner help here? Well, our role will change and – all going well – eventually disappear in this phase.  

The years immediately after your retirement are all about managing the transition.  

So making sure you feel in control and comfortable with your money, that your spending remains in line with expectations and ensuring that your portfolio continues to do it’s job (i.e., support your desired lifestyle in retirement).   

But, over the years, you’ll find that your need for advice slowly dissolves away.  

Your life will settle into a nice routine, there won’t be too many big changes and the trajectory of your wealth is, really, pretty well settled too.  

I find that this means that we gradually step back, and out of, our clients lives. Which is normal!  

We’re always there if, and when, they need us. And some people like to retain our services each year simply for the peace of mind that comes with having a trusted party looking over things.  

They want us to keep an eye on their financial position.  

But do they need us to? Not really.  

This changes as people move into the later stages of retirement, or perhaps when big life events occur (inheritances, bereavements, etc).  

Again, we’re always there to help – but the intensity of our advisory process definitely drops over time.  


Your Retirement Journey 

And those are the big three parts of your retirement plan.  

Planning is where the bulk of the work is done, getting your situation into shape for your looming new financial reality.  

Jumping is the scariest part where you leap into your new future, hoping that everything you’ve done before has set you up properly.  

And Landing is the fun part, where you can progress into life as a retiree with confidence and comfort.  

At each point, a financial planner can be immeasurably helpful.  

They can help you identify the work that needs to be done in the Planning phase – and help you make sure it gets done.  

They can take away some of the terror when it comes time to jump off that platform, freeing you up to enjoy the view as the adrenaline hits your system. 

And in those first years of retirement, we’re there to help you transition to your new life with as few worries as possible.  

Hopefully these posts encourage you to seek out your own financial planner to help you navigate your way to retirement. But even if not, I hope that this three-part structure helps you when you’re building your own retirement plan.  

Finally – good luck with it all and I hope you can enjoy your journey to retirement! 

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