Is your retirement following its flight plan?

Most retirees live a retirement filled with fear and doubt due to the absence of such a navigation system

Within the traditional financial services industry, the financial (retirement) plan is revered as the sacred text. It is as though this preparatory “flight plan” document is supposed to provide continual guidance throughout a journey that may last two to three decades. My belief is, while the flight plan is important, ultimately it is the navigation system we rely upon that has far greater value, once our retirement journey begins.

In Canada, no plane is authorized to leave the ground until a pilot files a detailed flight plan. Yet every pilot will tell you that seldom, if ever, does a flight go according to plan. The reason a pilot exists is not for the plan, but rather for their ability to quickly and reliably make appropriate course corrections at the appropriate time. These changes are being made in response to the constant inflow of information and conditions not anticipated in the flight plan. Relying solely upon the original flight plan and failing to make the appropriate course corrections can result in the plane arriving a long way from the planned destination or worse yet, running out of fuel and falling from the sky.

Retirement for most baby boomers is a 25-to-30-year journey, with very few variables that can be relied upon for their accuracy. Therefore, one should anticipate a rather complex and messy trip through a topography of challenges, obstacles and opportunities, which will seldom be captured in the original retirement (flight) plan. Course corrections are inevitable and will be frequently required.

Designing your retirement is not about precision, but rather making decisions based upon best guesses at the time, and then making better choices and necessary course corrections when new, better information reveals itself.

Don’t get me wrong, it is always advisable to have developed a flight plan prior to leaving the security of a pay cheque, but this pre-departure plan quickly becomes an outdated map. As the pilot of your own retirement journey, what you seek is a reliable, easy-to-use navigation system to identify when course corrections are required and what these course corrections should be.

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