Share:

Ready or not, the Baby Boomers are set to retire. Every day in 2011, roughly 7,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 – and so it will be pretty much every day for the next 16 years. How can your credit union help them tackle this new stage of life?

The Boomers may be chronologically ready for a life of leisure, but in practical terms, not so much. When their parents approached retirement, they did so having paid their mortgages, eschewed consumer debt, earned pension benefits and saved considerable nest eggs. Not so for Boomers, who took an extra hit recently when the financial crisis wreaked havoc with the stock and job markets.

According to life coach Barbara Waxman, author of “How to Love Your Retirement,” the result is a complete rethinking of what it means to retire. It’s not just that Boomers have less financial security going into the retirement years; they also look forward to a longer, healthier, more active (and possibly more expensive) retirement than their parents had. “People are living longer,” says Waxman, “but what that means is that they’re adding years onto the middle of their lives – years where they’re active, traveling and still interested in contributing.”

Even their definitions are fuzzy. “The majority of Boomers plan to continue working after retirement,” says Waxman. “They want to change the parameters (by working fewer hours or with less pressure to achieve) – and may even choose to pursue totally different careers.”

Being open to new ideas and solutions is central to how Boomers are approaching retirement. In part, this is born of necessity: If you haven’t saved enough to support yourself for 20 or 30 years without additional income, continuing to work is a reasonable notion. But Boomers are also looking for options because that’s what Boomers do.

“From the moment they were born, Boomers have required change,” says Waxman. “Schools had to be born to accommodate them. Neighborhoods had to be built.” Boomers ushered in tremendous social change in their younger days, and have continued to reshape every stage of life as they’ve sailed through it. They didn’t parent like their parents did. Middle age? 50 is the new 30.

As credit unions look to address the needs of this new wave of retirees, one thing is clear: Business as usual won’t hit the mark. Traditional retirement planning is great for folks who have years until retirement. For Boomers who need to retire now, planning may require a more holistic – and improvisational – approach. Consider:

  • Financial planning geared toward helping Boomers piece together a real-life retirement strategy they can implement now.
  • Refinancing options that help near-retirees reach their debt-reduction goals faster or more effectively.
  • Financial products and services that simplify: Now is a great time to make the case for a single source of financial services.
  • Insurance consultations that help Boomers navigate the confusing waters of life, health and long-term care insurance.
  • Involvement opportunities that make the most of retirees’ skills for the benefit of the credit union.

What are you doing to engage boomers? Have you already found success by employing these, or other, ideas?