Do You Need a Retirement Coach?Most people's worries about retirement are, first and foremost, about money: Will I have enough? How much can I spend? How can I make what I have last as long as I do?

But there are other questions to retirement -- the ones about all the nonfinancial stuff -- that can be just as complicated. What will I do with my time? What matters most? How will I transition into this new phase of my life? What can I expect?

These are big life questions, and increasingly, folks are turning to retirement coaches for help finding answers.

But what can a retirement coach do for you that you can't do for yourself? And at $100-plus an hour, are their services worth it?

The Game Has Changed

Truth is, when you're working the 9-to-5 grind, you know the deal. When suddenly there's no boss, when your days are your own -- well, that can be either a cause for celebration or a bit overwhelming. Will you work part-time? Volunteer? Will you want to travel the globe or visit the grandkids? Will you split your time between your primary house and a second home?

You'll face loads of options, and you'll want to make the right choices. And what about the questions that you might not have anticipated asking, or perhaps not so soon: What happens if I get critically ill? What if my partner dies?

"Getting help in this very big life change is priceless," says Bill Dueease, president of The Coach Connection, which brings together people and coaches. "If people retire without a purpose, they wither away. It is almost life-critical they develop a new purpose to get up, other than playing golf. But rarely do any soon-to-be retirees know much about themselves to even recognize their ideal retirement if it was given to them," says Dueease.

"Provide the Needed Nudge"

"A coach does a few things you could never do on your own," says Eric Dunavant, president of Dunavant Wealth Group. For example, a coach may help you stay disciplined, rather than emotional about tough financial decisions.

"It can happen with retirement decisions where someone is so anxious to retire they have never counted the cost to see if they could afford to do so," says Dunavant. A good coach will start by working with you to determine what you really want to do, lead you to resources to help you get there and provide the needed nudge to keep you focused on your goals. They will also track your progress in moving toward them and make necessary adjustments so that you get where you're trying to go.

"A coach will constantly challenge you to look at how you stack up against your desired results," says Dunavant. "There are instances when you can spend a lot of time and energy chasing an objective that was never one of your goals to begin with. It might feel really important at the time, but after it's over, you are no closer to your ultimate goal."

But who most stands to benefit from hiring a retirement coach? "This is for people who want to have someone to hold them accountable," explains Pete D'Arruda, president of Capital Financial Advisory Group. "I think it's great to have a second opinion you can trust, someone who has your best interest at heart. Everyone could use a coach, but the do-it-yourselfers who don't respond to constructive criticism will never be a good coaching candidate."

Certified and Solid

As with any adviser, though, the key is to choose wisely. "Coaches should have training in coaching and retirement coaching in particular," says Barbara Adler, senior consultant and retirement coach at Impact Group."They should have experience working with individuals dealing with retirement related topics and useful resources to provide for your ongoing planning," she adds.

You're also not likely to get a rookie if you go for a coach certified by the International Coach Federation, especially one who has attained their mid-level certification, the Professional Certified Coach. That seal of approval means they have at least 750 coaching experience hours and 25 clients, among other requirements. 2Young2Retire offers a training program that certifies facilitators to work with people designing the second half of life. You might also check out Life Planning Network.

Prices vary greatly. You may be able to find a group retirement coaching session that starts at $25 per meeting, according to Candy Spitz, director of facilitator training for 2Young2Retire. But one-on-one advising isn't cheap. For example, "Fees can range from $300 to over $4,000 for a month's coaching. Some coaches require a three- to six-month contractual obligation," explains Dueease. If you're shelling out that kind of money, you want to get what you're paying for.

More Guidance Than You'll Need

As with any adviser, you'll want to interview several candidates -- thoroughly. For starters, suggests Mark Matson, founder of Matson Money, ask these questions: "What strategies do you follow for investing assets? How is your relationship with other coaches, advisers and brokers? How have you educated past investors to make better financial decisions? How long do you typically stay attached to and help clients? Why did you become a coach versus a broker?"

In addition, Impact Group's Adler suggests, ask about their approach to retirement planning, and ask what are some of the significant mistakes people make. Inquire how he or she will prevent you from stumbling into those pitfalls if the two of you work together. Of course, you'll want to know how long they've been coaching and how often they will met with you, among other thingss.

Don't be afraid to drill down: Experience and expertise counts, but so does personality. The best recommendations may come from your trusted circle: family, friends and existing advisers.

An Ongoing Relationship?

Not everyone is sold on the notion of retirement coaches. Richard Barrington, a chartered financial analyst with says, "It's a 50-50 proposition whether this is a good idea, because often financial planners and other 'experts' have been the source of bad ideas that have gotten retirement savers into trouble."

That said, it can make sense if you lack the discipline to follow through on retirement planning concepts, you find someone who is properly certified -- say, a certified financial planner -- and who charges a reasonable fee, and doesn't receive any form of incentive for recommending specific products. Once your plan is mapped out, the next question how much continuing attention you'll need.

"The word 'coach' implies an ongoing, intensive relationship, and it's questionable whether that is worth the money," says Barrington. "Once you have a long-term plan in place, you shouldn't need too much continuing help unless you find yourself off track from your goals."

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Sam Das

Be your own coach, be prudent and wise, be cautious. I am in 2nd year of retirement and my estate is still growing. Minor losses of 08 has now been fully recovered and again the ball is rolling forward. I am very well diversified and reallocate frequently. Good lord has blessed me and when I reach 70 years I will start giving away my wealth for good causes and hopefully live long enough to enjoy my giving.

January 22 2011 at 5:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

To acward 69----BEST OF LUCK FOR A FULL RECOVERY--- may GOD bless you and your family. On TV they always advertise the Cancer Treatment Centers of America---maybe you should get a second opinion on your treatment process. They have three locations in the USA, one in Phlidelphia, one I believe in Arizona, AND ONE UP NORTH.

January 22 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Most of those so called professionals mislead their clients prior to each crash, including the last one. If your going to invest in the stock markets, DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK----the old saying still applies--- IF YOU WANT IT DONE RIGHT ---DO IT YOURSELF. And stay away from full sevice WALL STREET BROKER BANKS unless you want to pay an arm and a leg AND THEY DON'T WARRANTY THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS.

January 22 2011 at 3:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Wow...$100 + per hour for a retirement coach? If you can't figure out what to do in retirement I feel sory for you. How about photography, volunteering, bird watching, camping, astronomy, metal detecting. I do not have enough time to do them all. And how much does it cost? As much as you have.

Dave in Arizona

January 22 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


I was not ready to retirer, but at 62 was laid offand forced out. I spent7 months finding a house in the South, so i could get out of the NE. Surpise - If you do not have income, it gets hard and all my money was in 401, but finally with retirement income pension and SS, got a $150,000 loan.
Had promise wife i get physical - wow passed all the major test and blam - high PSA & Dr. did not like his digital exam - June 21 - 14 months retired and I'm having my prostate removed. its full of cancer. Now Im waiting for my 8th month check up and worried as hell. - that retirement month 22. If things look good I'll go back to working on house and work part time. If not life will change.

January 22 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The surest way of enjoying a fruitful retirement is to avoid all financial advisers. These people do not have your interests at heart. Learn to make decisions for yourself.

January 22 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rgkarasiewicz's comment

went to seminar for seniors, Planner wanted you to give him your entire retirement fund and he will give u a monthly check for life, LOL

The best advise he had was, " Donot give your retirement money to your kids", you can not afford it and they need to spend with in their limits.

January 22 2011 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

just a way for someone to get your money. For $30 you can buy a book that tells you everything you need to know. all these people are gonna tell you is to 1)volunteer, or 2)get a part time job, or 3) get a hobby (preferably one that you can make money at if #2 is a must.

There you are, each of you send me $100>>>I accept paypal

January 22 2011 at 11:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to StopUrWhining's comment

My lawyer told me when I was young, everyone has their hand in your pocket.

January 22 2011 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This sounds like a crock of BS to me. Some jack-ass comes with another scam on how to make money for themselves and invents the job title "retirement coach." How many financial experts and coaches does one need? If these people aren't financial coaches or advisors what are their credentials??? They coached basket ball? If you're going into shock over what to do after you retire...then maybe you shouldn't have retired in the first place. IF you were forced to retire before you wanted to and are lost...get a shrink. I doubt a retirement coach was trained in psychotherapy or can prescribe anti depressants. What are they going to tell you to do...take up golf or sky diving? Such an irritating article isn't worth my comments.

January 22 2011 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Artie's comment

The problem is the people who write these articles are say 30 yrs old and can not even see retirement, the future, forcast the stock market or your health.

January 22 2011 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How in the world are you supposed afford $100 an hour, if the reason you're reading this article, in the first place, is beccause you're concerned that you have little to retire ON?!

Please, post articles with an ounce of common sense.

January 21 2011 at 2:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

A retirement coach ??? What do you think you are paying your financial advisor or CPA for ???

January 21 2011 at 1:02 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply