The Elephant in the Room

Dec 12, 2014

Have you ever worked with a group of people who are trying to solve an important problem, but no progress is being made? You can feel the gnawing sense of tension building in the room as the paralysis sets in… everyone is talking around the central issue yet no one wants to address it.

The implications of dealing with this situation appear to be too daunting and too emotionally charged. The hope is that, if we ignore it, the issue will disappear or resolve itself.

It’s as though there is an elephant in the room, and no one wants to let on that they see it.

The Elephant in the Room

Any outsider looking in immediately realizes that until everyone is willing to admit to and deal with it, this elephant is the obstacle blocking the path to progress.

If you are a baby boomer in your mid fifties to early sixties, chances are there is a significant issue in your life that you feel too overwhelmed to face. What I’m talking about is that looming question regarding the next phase of your life:

AM I going to be OK?

Whenever you get together with your financial advisor, your conversations dance around this issue. You are afraid of the answer, and the advisor can’t seem to give you a credible answer anyway.

How, though, could anyone answer that question, unless they knew the exact definition of “okay” in the first place?

Most of us have spent more time planning our last two-week vacation then we have spent planning the rest of our lives. Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the question.

We must acknowledge the fact that we are not fully prepared to face the next chapter of our lives. Until we become fully engaged in dealing with this elephant in the room then we face the very real danger that we become the saboteur of our own future. Outliving our money is probably one of our worst nightmares.

The issues we will face in the second half of our lives are complex and unprecedented. The current solutions to these matters are not appealing to most people. However, through collaboration and team-work, we can find fresh, creative solutions to overcome what appear to be insurmountable problems.

I look forward to sharing with you the information that I have accumulated through years of experience and research.

I encourage everyone to participate in the process by sharing their knowledge, providing feedback and their own personal perspective. Tell us how you have dealt with the challenges of planning for the next half of your life. is a platform where you can engage in the process of planning and exploring a variety of future life-time scenarios. You will become immersed in the process of discovering the future that awaits you.

You can choose to create the future you have always wanted, or simply let it happen to you.

The choice is yours!

The Fatal Flaw in Most Retirement Plans

Nov 28, 2014

There is a critical issue that continually arises which people don’t tend to think about when it comes to their retirement planning. I’m not discussing their income requirements, retirement age, accumulated assets, government benefits or even their expected rates of return, though they are important. What’s often ignored is their life expectancy.

Your life expectancy is probably a more important decision than deciding how close you are to retirement. Yet, the latter is what the focus is put upon.  Deciding this critical factor then allows you to consider other important things like where are you going to live and for how long will you live there?  When should you downsize and when should you consider a retirement home?

And don’t forget to consider the life expectancy of your spouse – the disparity between your two longevities can have even more significant implications to your planning. How should you split incomes and which assets you should draw from first.

Longevity has increased thanks to medical advances and the fact that many boomers have adopted better lifestyles that often allow them to celebrate their 100th birthday. However, there are many variables that play a role in how long you may live including reducing stress, genetics, eating healthy, exercising and even being married. While we would all agree that living a long life is a good thing, it is important that each individual is prepared for the financial consequences of their longevity.

When Canada set the retirement age, almost a half century ago, at age 65, life expectancy was approximately 72 years old. In a report from Statistics Canada, the average life expectancy for a 65 year old man in 2009 was 83.5 and for a woman it is 86.6. Remember, this is the average, which means over half of the population will live longer than this.

As you can’t see into the future, it’s unclear exactly how long you’ll live in retirement, however there are superior ways of estimating  this rather than simply making a guess based on how you feel about yourself on any given day. A fun, easy and free way to accomplish this is to visit The Longevity Game website, courtesy of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance. By completing the questionnaire, you will receive a life expectancy calculation tailored to you, generated by factors like your levels of stress, lifestyle habits, current health and family history.

A recent report by the Society of Actuaries entitled ‘Key Findings and Issues: Longevity’, it has been revealed that more than half of the population undervalues their life expectancy and as a result their retirement planning time horizons are much too short.

If you over estimate your life expectancy, you’ll leave your heirs with a little bit extra. However, if you underestimate your life expectancy, you could end up running out of money and having inadequate resources to secure your dignity and independence during your ‘No Go Years’.

According to the report from the Society of Actuaries, “As in 2009, retirees say they typically look five years (median) into the future, while pre-retirees typically look 10 years (median)  ahead when making important financial decisions.”

For most, a big part of retirement planning is making sure your money lasts as long as you do, so to avoid a fatal flaw in your retirement planning it would be a good idea to start with a better understanding of how long each of your  journeys may last.

Someone beat me to the punch!

Oct 31, 2014

I can’t believe it; someone beat me to the punch. The book I was planning to write has already been written. I would like to congratulate the author, Daryl Diamond, as he has done an extremely good job. His new book, ‘Your Retirement Income Blueprint’, was recently launched and is now available in your favourite book store.

In his book, Daryl is quick to point out that the vast majority of advisors in the financial services industry remain fixated on serving the needs of those still building their retirement nest eggs. Very few advisors are proficient in helping people successfully transition from their years of earning a pay cheque to the necessity of having to draw down upon their accumulated savings to fund their retirement. Daryl warns of how difficult it is to find advisors who truly understand the art and science of building a secure retirement income stream.

Previous generations relied heavily upon the highly talented and disciplined skills of their corporate pension plan manager. However, with the defined benefit pension plan quickly approaching extinction, Baby Boomers must now look to others to assist in the important tasks of:

  • making the appropriate adjustments to investment decisions during their draw down years;
  • providing an income stream that endures until after the death of the surviving spouse; and
  • safely converting the accumulated savings into an income stream that meets the cash flow needs of a much longer retirement. A retirement that includes a variety of different stages, each with their own unique cash flow challenges.

Like Daryl, we are also recognized as a pioneer in the area of retirement income planning. Our Designing My OK™ planning platform allows you to practically apply the knowledge, wisdom and critical information contained in Daryl’s book to your own personal situation. The three components of the Designing My OK™ software suite: Futures By Design™, Predictable Futures™ and My Personal Pension Plan™ provide real-time learning as you explore and discover how best to:

  • properly combine the right amount of government and personal sources of income;
  • determine which assets should be drawn upon first, and which should be deferred for use in the future;
  • avoid the needless loss of the government retirement benefits you are entitled to;
  • significantly reduce the amount of money unnecessarily lost to taxation;
  • keep you from falling into common retirement ‘Tax Traps’;
  • protect your annual ‘drawdowns’ from the damaging impact of market volatility;
  • ensure the financial needs of the ‘surviving spouse’ are taken care of; and
  • disassemble your accumulated savings in a manner that leaves more of your estate to your loved ones

Most importantly, Designing My OK™ allows you to explore all the possibilities of what your personal version of “OK” might look like. It allows you to stretch the limits as youdiscover what is truly possible. In other words, our planning tools will provide you with a definitive and fully supported answer to the question, Am I going to be OK?

Those who demand this level of retirement income expertise from their financial advisors can anticipate their money lasting much last longer; enabling them to do more, while worrying less.