Getting Off the Retirement Mountain Safely: Introducing Your Sherpa Team

Few people know that it is only in the last 100 years that anyone, sherpas included, would have considered climbing Mount Everest.

By local families around the base of Mount Everest, it was considered a place where evil spirits dwelled. A trek up “the mountain too high for birds to fly over” was considered a one way ticket.

The concept of retirement is also unique to the last 100 years. Did you know that prior to the 1930’s no one would have known what you were talking about if you asked them what retirement is? The whole concept of retirement didn’t exist. It really wasn’t until the inception of Social Security and the pensions established by unions that people began to talk about “retirement benefits.”

You most likely aren’t preparing for a trip to summit Mount Everest, but you are most likely preparing for retirement, which can certainly feel like an uphill battle.

Retirement is a lot more like mountain climbing than you might at first imagine. Let’s start with the mountain. Retirement is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You can choose which mountain you want to climb. Every mountain has its own unique challenges.

Many people think that there’s only one mountain. By default, they follow everyone up “Route 65”. That is, work until you are 65, then you stop, right?

Wrong. Retirement comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

All retirements share two things: the ascent and the descent. The time when you are accumulating assets is your uphill climb, and the time when you are spending assets is the descent.

But did you know that the most precarious part of climbing the mountain isn’t the ascent?

It’s the descent.

And this is one case in which our metaphor holds especially true for retirement. People consistently underestimate how long they will live.

Your Retirement Reality Tip

“In a recent report, “Key Findings and Issues: Longevity,” the Society found that more than half of Americans underestimate their life expectancy, and that their financial planning time horizons are too short. The Society interviewed 1,600 adults ages 45 to 60 (800 retirees and 800 pre-retirees) for the full 2011 Risks and Process Of Retirement Survey Report.

Of the retirees and pre-retirees who guessed the age to which an average person of his or her age and sex could expect to live, about 4 in 10 underestimated the age by five or more years and another 2 in 10 underestimated it by 2 to 4 years. More significantly, only 4 in 10 retirees correctly responded that about half of 65-year-old men and women can expect to live until median life expectancy—indicating that the variability of life expectancy is not well understood.”

— Ebeling, Ashlea, Aug. 10, 2012

Americans Clueless About Life Expectancy, Bungling Retirement Planning.


This is why having someone who knows the routes up and down the retirement mountain can be such a saving grace. Why tackle this mountain alone? There’s a better way to get up and down the mountain.

Successful Mount Everest climbing teams employ local Sherpas. Those Sherpas know the local conditions. They know alternative routes. They know the tools you are going to need at each stage of the journey. Most importantly, they know how to make sure you get off that mountain safely.

At, every team member is trained to think like a Sherpa for retirement income. We are writing this blog to help ensure that you successfully summit the mountain you choose for your journey. We want to make sure you get off that mountain safely and that you know where to stop to enjoy the view.

Please stay tuned for our next Retirement Reality blog post. We’re going to give you a simple tool to help you think about different retirement paradigms and choose which mountain you want to climb. It’s an important post you won’t want to miss.

Your Retirement Reality Sherpa


Reality Check: It Might Be Time to Revisit Your Retirement Income Plan

Funding your retirement today has changed dramatically from planning a retirement income a few decades ago. Today’s economic circumstances have created a new reality that requires a different approach.
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