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Five Strategies for Older Clients
By Robert Huebscher
March 8, 2011

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What do a woman who volunteered with the Peace Corps in Africa, a teacher from Spanish Harlem who took up Samurai sword fighting, and a former IT manager who earned a medical degree at age 76 have in common? They are all part of a group that David Monday calls “second-half champions.”

And they are all baby boomers.

Over the coming decade, nearly 10,000 boomers per day will be turning 65 and retiring.  According to David Monday, most advisors don’t understand the implications of those numbers for their practices.

Monday, based in St. Louis, is the chief client officer at Wells Fargo Advisors.  He spoke to the Wealthcare Advisory Board, of which I am a member, on February 22 in Las Vegas. 

Many boomers have personal goals for their retirement that are anything but sedentary, Monday said.  The examples above may be extreme, he said, but advisors need to prepare for seniors today who will embrace a far more vigorous lifestyle than their predecessors.  

At the same time, however, boomers will enter retirement with more modest portfolios than the Greatest Generation, Monday said, and without the guaranteed lifetime income of defined benefit plans. 

And they will live longer. For a husband and wife at age 60 today, odds are that one will live to age 92, based on current life expectancies. With anticipated advances in gerontology, living beyond age 100 will be increasingly common. The average age at which one stops working (in some cases involuntarily) is now 58, so advisors need to anticipate retirements of considerably more than 30 years.

“It's a big deal,” Monday said. “The biggest deal we have ever had.”

With so many assets now or soon to be in the hands of retired boomers, Monday offered a five-part plan for serving this clientele.

Step 1 – Help maintain control

At every stage of life, Monday said, people have a mission.  The main mission of a teenager is to “fire” his or her parents, and then “hire them back,” essentially, as consultants.  When someone reaches roughly 70, on the other hand, Monday said their primary mission becomes to maintain control.

Elderly clients lose their physical strength, their health may fail, their friends are dying or starting to move away, and people stop asking them for their opinion.  Seniors react to the combination of those losses by seeking greater control over their own lives.

Housing is the question where control issues are most obvious.  The decision to move one’s parents out of their home and into assisted living or other alternatives can be overwhelming – for both parents and children.  Advisors can help seniors prepare for this by ensuring that they have a well-crafted plan that lets them stay in control of this decision – to an appropriate degree.

Monday credits David Solie’s book, How to Say it to Seniors, for articulating the importance of helping seniors maintain control over their lives.

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