September 28, 2015 Greg Preite

Why Retirement is Like Coaching Football

When you meet with clients to put together a retirement strategy, do you notice that most of them tend to view financial planning as a race? Often they become so focused on reaching the finish line as quickly as possible that they overlook other important aspects of their strategy!

If you need to break your clients out of that linear thinking style, it could be that you need a new way to explain your services to them. Rather than portraying retirement planning as a race, help your clients view their strategy as an intricate game based on teamwork and skill. Now that fall has arrived and most of us are enjoying football season once again, perhaps these football analogies can help you shed new light on your retirement planning strategies.

Remember, it’s a team effort. In football, no single player wins the game all by himself. It takes coordination between many talented and skilled people. Likewise, you can’t expect one asset class or a single move in the stock market to propel you forward to success. Financial planning is about choosing the right players for your team, and balancing your efforts among them.

Research your quarterback before signing him to the team. The quarterback of a football team shoulders an enormous responsibility to make the right calls under pressure. That’s why head coaches place so much emphasis on researching, watching, and recruiting the right quarterback for their own teams. The quarterback of a financial strategy is a fund manager who has proven himself to be skilled, dependable, and consistent. Remind your clients to carefully research such a person before turning over the responsibility of their life savings to him.

Formulate a strong offensive line. Even the most talented quarterback needs protection from a solid offensive line; otherwise, a threat will break through the line and sack him. Remind your clients that their long-term financial strategy is the offensive line that protects their quarterback. They should create a strategy that gives the quarterback room to make the right calls – without the fear or pressure that can prompt hasty decisions.

Choose your kicker wisely. Sometimes the outcome of a football game comes down to a single kick – either a field goal or an extra point. While a kicker might not spend more than a few minutes on the field during the entire game, his role can vastly important during a close game. Likewise, your clients might select a high-risk asset class that does not “play” very often. They devote only a small amount of their resources to it, and yet selecting the right one can propel them to success even when the rest of the team is struggling.

Slow and steady wins the game. It can be temping to take the risk of a long pass, hoping for the reward of a 40-yard gain. But many football games are lost when quarterbacks take on too much risk. Likewise, in retirement planning you should focus on the “running game” – the slow, steady approach to gradually gain ground over time.

Keep playing until the very end. Often we see football teams with an enormous lead over the competition, but then they seem to stop playing during the second half of the game. We have even seen the underdog team come back to win the game in these scenarios! Remind your clients that making large gains early in the game isn’t a signal to give up and get lazy about their strategy. They still have a long way to go before retirement, and developing a cocky attitude can cost them big money.

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