FA Magazine March 2023 - Page 32

Steve Gresham

Pick Up The Phone To Your Future Self

Advisors help people realize that their brains aren ’ t necessarily wired for oddsmaking and long-term planning .


OST PEOPLE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR RETIREment . And most people are not prepared for a natural disaster . Is there a connection ?
Consider :
• More than 20 million houses in the U . S . are at risk from serious flooding . Fewer than five million have flood insurance .
• One in 10 Americans age 65 or older suffers from Alzheimer ’ s , and more than 20 % have some form of dementia . Yet only 3.3 % of the population has long-term-care insurance .
Retirement stress and natural disasters both pounce on people who think they might be OK , but aren ’ t really sure and haven ’ t really taken precautions . And besides , the “ forecast ” is never right … right ?
Our Brains Don ’ t Plan
Blame our brains . The human brain is not wired for long-term planning — of any kind . We have trouble with abstract concepts . We can ’ t process “ odds .” We process only what we can see or feel or deposit or fear . Clients get in big trouble with retirement planning because they hear the numbers but don ’ t really “ see ” themselves forward . Really good advisors close the gap . It is ironic that the designer of our planning-deficient brains is the same Mother Nature who is most often the culprit when we fail the worst . The real risk in retirement is not running out of money , it ’ s running out of options .
The real risk in retirement is not running out of money , it ’ s running out of options .
But There ’ s Never Been A Big Storm Before
Take my mom ’ s neighbor , who we ’ ll call Marcie . Marcie and her husband moved to Florida for retirement and had all their bases covered . He died a couple of years ago with their home fully paid for and modest but adequate savings .
Mom , Dad , Marcie and her husband made it through Hurricane Charley in 2004 , which slammed into Sanibel Island , where they lived , and completely deforested the historic canopy along Periwinkle Way . Charley was mostly wind , so the damage was minimal at both homes . Hurricane Irma in 2017 was different and more threatening . My mom evacuated to the mainland and spent a couple nights sitting in a folding chair in a school gym with no air conditioning . At age 83 .
Again , the storm was forecast to be worse than it turned out . Local preparation for the evacuation was uneven and led to public recriminations .
When Hurricane Ian hit Sanibel Island on September 28 last year , a wavering forecast and last-minute evacuation orders confused many residents . Too many recalled the pure discomfort and inconvenience of Irma and didn ’ t gird themselves for the disaster to follow . A thousand people stayed on the island and were hit with winds at 150 miles per hour and a storm surge as high as 18 feet — on an island that is an average of 3 feet above sea level .
Mom was slammed . Four months later we are still working with the in-