I was standing at the top of the highest point in Africa – Mt. Kilimanjaro – with friends and clients several years ago. I considered all of the hours of meticulous planning and training that went into the successful five-day hike to the top. While struggling to catch my breath at nearly 20,000 feet above sea level, I had a somewhat disturbing epiphany. My journey was not over. In fact, it was far from over. I was standing on top of a mountain in the middle of Africa and I had another 15 hours of hiking ahead of me. The summit was not the finish line. Not even close.
When I think of traditional retirement financial planning I think back to my thoughts on top of the mountain. Advisors and their clients spend a great deal of time accumulating assets, investing them, cutting expenses and taxes, and building a large retirement nest egg. Once we take the plunge into retirement, we think we’ve reached the pinnacle and the finish line when, in fact, we’ve reached neither.