Kelly King

Director & Senior Wealth Advisor, Iconic Wealth

Filling the void after retiring

There’s a reason retirement is considered one of the most stressful times in life… Up there with divorce, moving house and death of a loved one. But why? Shouldn’t this time of life be the happiest, reaping the rewards of years of hard work?

A small portion of my clients struggle to make the commitment to finish work. I’ve done the maths, forecasted and charted it to death and it all points to financial comfort, financial freedom, all the cliches. Sometimes it looks so magnificent that a basic calculator could tell them so. But they are still hesitant and cautious – why?

For some, a niggling financial doubt remains. An incredible fear of ‘turning off the tap’ keeps them in the workplace for ‘just another year’. Often, it’s not financial. They are worried about the time when the list of jobs around the house is completed, the big holiday is over, and they are left alone with their thoughts.

These clients are respected in their workplace, their opinions and wisdom are held in high regard, but they wonder, will that still be the case when they are just another retiree? Sometimes comparisons are made with their own parents’ retirement and how they see the ‘man’ they once idolised become irrelevant in society after years out of the workforce.

A big concern for some is the loss of connection. The workplace is the glue of their social circle. They would have seen colleagues come and go with the promise to catch up but it never happened. Building a new circle seems incredibly intimidating and unlikely. They can’t bear the thought of finding themselves stuck with their wives friends husbands, making generic small talk waiting for the time to pass. You know what I’m talking about…

And then, there is… spending more time with loved ones. Many individuals have led completely separate lives from their partner Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm for 20 plus years. All of a sudden, you’re discussing every movement with each other… “Where are you off to?”, “Are you home for lunch?”, “I thought we were doing this today.” It’s a household dance that for some, can take months to refine and for others it’s a whole heap of resentment building.

I felt some of these emotions going on maternity leave for the first time. I had built a career over 15 years, and I was taking a leave of absence that made me feel very uncomfortable. I was losing a sense of identity and whilst the people who don’t love their job scream, ‘your job is not your identity’ I would argue for many people it is.

I can only distantly imagine how I am going to feel when the time comes for me to retire. I often use this tiny personal experience to break the ice and have that open conversation with clients about their plans to fill that void. The conversation is always welcomed.

Some ideas I have used in my business are:

  • Retirement lifestyle planning – really drilling down into identifying activities, hobbies, or even part-time work that can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  • Encourage continued learning and growth – this could include joining clubs or pursuing further education to help my clients feel intellectually stimulated and engaged.
  • Facilitate volunteer work or mentoring – many retirees find fulfillment in giving back to our community. I like to help clients identify opportunities that align with their interests and skills.
  • Promote social connections – encouraging clients to maintain and nurture social connections is vital for their emotional wellbeing. This could involve joining social groups, attending community events, or staying connected with friends and family.
  • Provide emotional support and offer resources on mental health and wellbeing – providing resources or referrals to mental health professionals can be valuable for retirees struggling with feelings of isolation or depression.

I encourage clients to discuss this time in their life with loved ones and invest time mapping out some of those void fillers. I want to invest in their emotional success as much as their financial success in retirement.

I’d encourage you to go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.


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In the next decade, a silver tsunami will sweep Australia. Around three million Australians will reach retirement age, after a full working life of compulsory superannuation contributions.