My overall life assessment, to the clear majority of people that we sit with, is to exhibit a “less is more” attitude. Trust me, the vast majority of Americans don’t want to hear that, and I assure you that finding a needle in a haystack would be easier than to find someone in the financial services industry preaching that viewpoint. Why, you ask? Because it’s a sales killer! So, when I’m speaking to someone about retirement planning and I note that, if they want to get out of the “rat race”, they’re going to have to learn to eat “less cheese”, I’m often then removed from their Christmas card mailing list!  Sadly, this is thanks to the incompetent financial planning advice that they had followed up to now. But because I’m the bearer of the harsh reality, I don’t end up winning any popularity contests. But like Hebrew National, I have to answer to a higher authority and tell it like it is.

While, fortunately, there are few clients that I work with that are in as dire shape as the man in the cartoon above, the clear majority of those clients, with retirement on their minds, have a major uphill battle ahead. And, thanks to an overall poor job from the financial services industry despite mega bull markets in financial assets, many are never going to come close to the retirement lifestyle that they viewed in all those commercials.

But before I go any further, let me be abundantly clear on two points that will certainly lead many to delete this message after I state the following (but those, who continue reading, will very much appreciate it):

Retirement is a man-made myth, not a God-given right of passage
True peace and contentment will come, if you can pass the “rope” test 

For those who are in agreement with the preceding two points and who haven’t made a voodoo doll of yours truly sticking it with pins, this commentary will be most beneficial for your future.

The Myth – As noted in Chapter 13 of my book, “Confessions of a Former Wall Street Whiz Kid”, retirement is a “Man-Made Myth”. The Creator, of all that is good in the Universe, didn’t create us so that we literally kill ourselves the first 75%, or so, of our lives, just so we can live “comfortably” for the final 25%. While I encourage you to read what I said, I want to feature one of the single-best articles that I’ve read in years about this subject, “It’s Time to Say It: Retirement Is Dead. This Is What Will Take Its Place”. This article is, by far, one of the most realistic commentaries about a subject upon which the financial services industry spends billions promoting, but actually results in benefitting those who sell the products more than those who buy them far too often.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

That great, biblical verse also can be applied to the many false prophets in the financial media, who sound convincing and exhibit disdain for certain methods, some of which are indeed inadequate, but others, most appropriately, doesn’t enrich the client either when peddling it.

Then, there are those that take a most-complicated and time-consuming effort to do right and make it sound simple and easy to do – if you engage them. I can assure you that catching “15 minutes of fame” is more likely than your accomplishing the goal of securing your retirement in 15 minutes.

Stop Focusing Just On The Red Part – Only the minority will truly believe what Pastor Chan is referring to and even fewer will agree with his belief. But I can tell you that if you focus upon even half as much of his recommendation as you do on the red part, your “golden years” can end up golden versus bronze or worse.

Reality Check – I would be extremely popular if I had taken out membership in the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crowd that makes up much of the financial services industry. But, blunt honesty and tying my faith to my work, doesn’t cause lines to form to see me outside my office doors (other than the financial advisors who don’t like my analogy of our industry).

Because my economic, social and political outlook is not very optimistic, I believe that the challenges to successful retirement planning have grown tremendously since I first entered Wall Street 34 years ago. Among the many of today’s issues, I find the following most concerning:

65% of Americans have saved little or nothing—and half of those may find themselves struggling in retirement.
More than 8 in 10 Americans have no idea how much retirement savings they’ll need when leaving the workforce.
Debt, deficits and you.
The US pension system is beyond repair.
The Scary Facts About Social Security’s Future.
15 Retirement Statistics That Will Scare the Crap Out of You.

I’m proud of being part of a team that continues to demonstrate the ability to generate  20% to 40% more income for our clients than they were set to earn over their lifetime by:

1) Delivering unique and verifiable strategies to increase wealth over and above what one is currently on track for.
2) We do this without taking more risk, in fact, we usually lower risk(s) that clients are currently exposed to.
3) We achieve the above without having to sacrifice lifestyle.

The obvious question, if you made it this far, is “How do you manage to do this Peter?”

Most financial service organizations focus upon product-based solutions. The challenge with this method is often additional cost and the future performance of the product is unknown. The other challenge is, when one defines “success” predominately based upon “Net Worth” and “Assets Under Management”, one loses sight of some key points.

Our main difference is that we define “wealth” based upon “cash flow” and “quality of life”. We use an academic approach to asset management and asset protection – not an emotional approach based upon a product’s past performance. We all have heard that “past performance is not indicative of future results”. Unfortunately, the public continually marginalizes this very-important disclaimer and invests as though success is assured in the products that they’re sold. Nothing could be further from reality. In fact, the only thing, that can be assured, is a process that works and solutions that are proven – which is what we do.

While I would welcome assisting you with your retirement and estate planning needs, there’s only “One” who can absolutely guarantee doing the right thing for you:

“Even to your old age I am He, even when your hair is gray I will carry you; I have done this, and I will lift you up, I will carry you to safety. To whom would you liken Me as an equal, compare Me, as though we were alike?” Isiah 46:4-5