Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: January 22, 2024 Focus on Wealth Management / Retirement

Retirement planning in your 50s: 'It's never too late'

Photo / Tim Greenway Tracey Daigle, a senior financial advisor, chief compliance officer and manager at Robinson Smith Wealth Advisors, talks to all new clients about retirement from Day One no matter what their age.

From the minute that Tracey Daigle starts working with new clients at Robinson Smith Wealth Advisors, she broaches the topic of retirement.

“I don’t care if you’re 20 or if you’re 60,” says Daigle, senior financial advisor, chief compliance officer and manager at the Portland-based wealth management firm. “The hope is that we all retire someday. The only other option is to die before you retire. That does happen, but it isn’t something you plan for.”

Her first piece of advice is to have a detailed plan, which becomes more important the later a person starts. Risk tolerance is another key consideration. That means telling clients that while stocks do better over the long term than bonds, “you have to be OK with the ride,” she says.

Provided Photo
Helen Andreoli

At Great Diamond Partners, founding partner Helen Andreoli says that when she meets with clients or prospective clients in their 50s, retirement conversations become “very real.”

“The client is no longer dreaming about retiring, they are actually starting to make their plans,” she says.

“The conversation begins to shift from ‘How do I make as much money as possible?’ to ‘How do I protect the funds that I have built up?’ Health concerns are also often top of mind for clients in their 50s, who are more likely to have lost a loved one or have a family member who has dealt with an illness.

“The topic becomes much more relevant — and specifically thinking about how to pay for it,” she says, offering this reassurance: “It’s never too late to start planning.”

“Even if you are retired already,” she says, “a Certified Financial Planner can assist you with retirement cash flow planning, wealth transfer to the next generation, an insurance review and even charitable giving to name a few. There’s so much more that goes into retirement planning than just saving for retirement.”

Andreoli’s suggestion to someone who has saved but has not yet embarked on planning is to start with a budget. From the planning side, she likes to look at a budget that’s broken into pieces.

For clients, she recommends working with a planner “who will be able to help no matter how late you are to the game.”

Provided Photo
Jill Hibyan

To find the right financial advisor, Jill Hibyan of F.L.Putnam Investment Management Co. recommends reflecting on what you hope to get out of the relationship and what you deem most important. She also suggests finding a financial planner who charges a fee for the assets managed or a flat fee for financial planning rather than someone who is working on commission.

“Look for an advisor who is bound to the fiduciary standard of care and operates on a fee-only versus commission-based — compensation model,” she cautions. “This helps to eliminate conflicts and ensure that the client and advisor are sitting on the same side of the table.”

For anyone in their 50s just starting to think about retirement finances, Cynthia C. O’Rourke of Spinnaker Trust offers the reassurance that it’s never too late to start planning and saving. Her advice is to contribute the maximum amount to any tax-advantage retirement plans for which the person is eligible, such as 401(k) and IRA accounts.

She also advises saving as much as possible in an after-tax account. since the tax consequences or withdrawals from different types of accounts will vary.

“Over the course of my career, I have found that people with a plan and goals feel much more comfortable approaching retirement,” she says. “They have been updating their plan regularly over the years, making adjustments along the way, and are able to see the progress they’ve made toward reaching their goals.”

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF