02 Oct 2017

    It's Time To Change The Way We Think About Retirement

    Two weeks ago, I was at a seminar and had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Mitch Anthony, author of “The New Retirementality: Planning Your Life and Living Your Dreams…at Any Age You Want”. For me, it was a great presentation as it aligned completely with my thoughts and ideas around retirement. 

    Often, we underestimate what lies ahead and the financial implications of what it takes to sustain the lifestyle we enjoy today. Just think about it for a moment, if you lose your job or source of income today, how long will it take you to go completely bankrupt? Three months? Six months? Maybe one or two years? Or perhaps you don’t even know, which simply means you don’t have a plan, it could well be less than 3 months.

    Planning in our current marketplace focuses on reaching a particular age, hitting a particular net worth target and achieving a certain Return on Investment (ROI). The media and the financial planning industry have created a picture of retirement that often raises fear rather than confidence or inspiration. In fact, in recent surveys, only two out of ten people feel comfortable they can achieve their financial goals.

    Seventy percent of family-owned businesses never make it to the next generation, and for those that do, only half make it to the subsequent generation. Bankruptcies amongst seniors (ages 65 and up) are at an all-time high. In our society today, overall contentment is low, principally because people focus too much on money, often spending it in the wrong places. These are unfortunate stats that give me a great deal of concern.

    These concerns are made worse by the fact that our financial/retirement planning industry is not as regulated as it should be. As a result, there are a lot of advisors who are not qualified to be providing financial, retirement, or investment advice. While there are a few good Financial/Retirement/Investment Advisors, a majority of those who have a great need for financial and retirement advice cannot access the services of these Advisors as they often don’t qualify based on arbitrary qualification criteria such as net worth and investable assets. Often times, you need to have a net worth in excess of one million dollars or/and at least $250,000 in investable assets (cash or registered and non-registered investments in securities) to be accepted as a client.

    For many, the only alternative left is to plan yourself or use online services. Robo-advisors (Online Wealth Management firms like WealthSimple, etc.) have emerged and are now growing in popularity to meet the needs of these Canadians that have been excluded, based on their net worth, from the services of qualified Advisors.

    The good news is that we are doing something about this. We want to change the trend and change the discussions around retirement and financial planning. We want to remove fear and give people the confidence they need as they begin to take meaningful actions toward planning for their future.

    Return on Life (ROL) is a simple concept that challenges the old mentality around retirement and offers a possible solution to these problems. Return on Life (ROL) is about getting the best life possible with the money and resources you have. It recognizes retirement as a very personal transition that, in many cases, calls for changes in habits around money. Instead of focusing on ROI, age, and net worth, a great retirement plan should be value-based.

    A value-based plan focuses on generative values across families from generation to generation. Value-based planning takes into consideration not only wealth, but also intimacy, spirituality, giving, and other core values that are vital to us. Moving from ROI to ROL requires this kind of planning and thinking around wealth and retirement.

    Over the last couple of months, as I’ve been reflecting on my faith, my life experiences, my values, and my businesses, I’ve been increasingly drawn to the need to do more, not only for myself and my family/friends but also for my clients and the community. As I reflect on my own struggles and those of my clients around business building and finances in general, I believe there is a lot we can learn from this new perspective on financial and retirement planning.

    I must admit that I don’t know it all. In fact, if I lose my job today, I will only last a few years before I go totally bankrupt, so I am very much an open-minded student learning as much as I can to get to where I want to be. I invite you to join me in this learning journey and together let’s build something we will all be proud of. For those of you on Facebook, you can join the private Facebook Group called “Plan To Retire Well” that I have recently created. For those not on Facebook, you can join my email list.

    Through accountability, objectivity, proactivity, education and meaningful partnerships, we will bring clarity and help each other take actions that will enable you to move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. Ultimately, my goal is to help you live the life you want with the means you already have. More to come…stay tuned!

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    Ken Green

    Ken is a partner at GMS and a Chartered Professional Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. Ken holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Ken has extensive experience both in public accounting and in the financial services industry.

    Ken’s industry experience spans over 14 years including substantial experience in the financial services industry in various senior and management positions. Ken’s public accounting experience started with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), Toronto in 2005 where he was responsible for managing and directing a staff of associates in all facets of public accounting including audits, tax and special accounting assignments involving internal controls, preparation of financial statements and analysis of accounting and tax policies. Ken is also a Certified Internal Auditor and has over 6 years of internal audit experience working in Senior management roles in major Canadian Financial institutions such as BMO Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada.

    Prior to GMS, Ken operated a part-time Chartered Accounting practice for 3 years providing tax advisory and accounting services to small business, charities, not-for-profit organizations and professionals.

    Ken currently serves on the boards of Nia Centre for the Arts, Waterdown Chess Club and on the executive board of the National Black MBA Association, Toronto Chapter.


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