Retirement is one of life's major milestones-one that working Americans approach with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. While most look forward to breaking free of the constraints of the working world, the price of that freedom can be a major concern. "How much money will I need?" "How much should I be saving now?" "Will I be financially prepared?" That anxiety is enhanced by a nagging suspicion that Social Security and Medicare-programs Americans have supported with substantial tax payments over many years-will not be able to provide the full benefits that have been promised.

Likely, as a financial adviser, you have at least a basic understanding of the vehicles and strategies that can be used to accumulate retirement savings. What you may not be as familiar with, however, is a newer area of concentration related to the products and strategies that can be utilized to craft a withdrawal, or "decumulation" strategy, during one's retirement years. This topic is where we will spend the majority of our time in this course.

Whether it's with an annuity, systematic withdrawals, or another distribution strategy, clients need help creating a distribution plan that will sustain them for life. This can be especially challenging given that longevity is increasing and no one knows for sure how long they will live. Combine this with inflation risk and market volatility and you can see the magnitude of the task of planning for retirement distributions. A recent study by MetLife showed that 60% of clients do not have a good understanding of how to begin drawing on their accumulation at retirement. They have never retired before and likely are very uncertain, and maybe a bit scared. This presents a tremendous opportunity for advisers who are well equipped to discuss different products and strategies available to these retirees, and can do so in an understanding and empathetic way.

Finally, congratulations on undertaking the challenge of earning your CRPC designation. Advisers who continue to learn and stay up to date on changing retirement trends will be best able to guide their clients to and through their retirement years. Retirement planning represents a huge opportunity to help clients achieve important personal goals: economic independence for themselves and their survivors; medical care they can afford; and, after they are gone, distribution of their property according to their wishes. This module begins with an introduction to current trends in retirement readiness and some of the challenges that you will surely encounter when working with your clients to plan for their retirement.

An examination of the six-step "retirement planning process" begins in Chapter 2. This process is a set of activities that defines the relationship between the retirement counselor and the client. This process is essentially the same as one used more generally for personal financial planning, but gives special attention to the requirements of the retiree. The purpose of the retirement planning process is to understand the client's financial situation and expectations about living in retirement, to develop a realistic set of goals around which a financial plan can be constructed, and to implement and monitor that plan over time.

About the Author

David Mannaioni, CFP®, MPASSM is a professor at the College for Financial Planning. Utilizing his 30+ years of experience in the financial services industry, David also maintains a financial planning practice where he works with his clients in all areas of financial planning. In addition to his certifications, David holds life and health insurance licenses in several states, as well as the Series 6, Series 7, and Series 63 registrations with FINRA. You can contact David at

Complexity Level: Overview