If you’re like many Canadians thinking about and planning for an eventual retirement, you already know there are a lot of books to choose from at your local bookshop or library shelf.
But you probably also know that with more and more Canadians hitting the “traditional” retirement age of 65 every year – never mind those of us who strive to retire before 65 – and all of us planning to live longer than ever, the topic of retirement is hot and getting hotter.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see another retirement planning book pop up earlier this year. Titled “The Boomers Retire: A Guide for Financial Advisors and their Clients,” it’s co-written by two Certified Financial Planner certificants (CFP®), David Field (of Papyrus Planning) and Alexandra Macqueen (of “Pensionize Your Nest Egg” fame).
Last March, Alexandra helped me out with a decision about whether to stay in or leave my employer pension plan.
I’m interested in retirement, and I know my readers are, too – so I decided to check in with David and Alexandra to chat about why they wrote this book together, what they hope readers will get out of it, and why you should consider adding The Boomers Retire to your reading pile.
Why another retirement planning book?
“As strange as it seems,” says Alexandra, “there’s just always something new to say about retirement.” That’s because retirement keeps changing, she adds:
“What retirement means, when it takes place, how we fund it, how long it might last, how we plan for it and the strategies we can put in place to help ensure a successful retirement … they all change over time, and by a surprising amount! So even if it feels like you know a lot about retirement, there’s always more to learn and know to make sure you’re prepared.”
Just take the Canada Pension Plan, for example. Even though it’s been around since 1965, it’s undergone several major overhauls since then and we’re in the middle of implementing the last round of changes, which started in 2019.
For people approaching age 60, the decision about when to take the Canada Pension Plan is key – but that decision is complex and there’s a lot of nuance in figuring out what the best choice is. (Alexandra wrote about CPP claiming decisions for high-income earners in an article that I linked in a recent blog post.)
What’s different about this book?
Many retirement books are targeted to a particular audience or focus on a single strategy, whether that’s retiring early or following a specific asset mix or withdrawal strategy. Unlike those books, this book is much more “agnostic,” the co-authors say.
“We tried to provide information that’s relevant and practical to a very wide audience,” Alexandra notes. “And because we wrote this as a guide for both advisors and retirees, there’s lots of supporting information, like checklists and references to where additional information can be found.”
The additional info ranges from contact information for provincial pension regulators to checklists for will preparation and the administration of an estate, how to make a home accessible as you age, where to find emergency medical coverage outside of Canada, and more.
“Many retirement books are written as a story,” explained David. “The Boomers Retire is a tool to help answer questions and ensure nothing is missed. The book has clearly defined subject areas so if you do not have a defined benefit pension, there is no need to read about defined benefit pensions. It is not a novel, it is a retirement resource.”
Why do Boomers need their own retirement planning book?
Boomers are the largest group heading into retirement today, but the retirement they’re heading into is different from how we retired 10, 15 or 20 years ago.
“Retirement is defined simply as ‘withdrawing from active working life,’” says Alexandra, “but that simple definition hides the complexity and the realities of the many, many different decisions that future retirees face today in planning for their own retirements.”
Boomers are also the first generation to enter retirement with a Tax-free Savings Account. “The TFSA is one of the most powerful, underutilized, and underappreciated tools in a retiree’s arsenal,” says David.
Chapter 1 covers three trends that “make retirement different today:” it’s increasingly longer, it’s increasingly diffuse – it might take place before, at, or after the “traditional” age of 65 and might happen in stages, instead of all at once – and funding retirement is increasingly complex.
All of these factors together mean that more than ever before, Canadians are designing their own retirements: when it happens, what it looks like, and how it’s funded. And these “new realities” mean more planning is required, say the authors.
What are the top challenges facing Boomers planning for retirement today?
Boomers are living longer and not necessarily healthier with less guaranteed income for life. “Often retirees go from managing one income from their employer to many different sources,” says David. “Everyone of those income sources can have tax and retirement benefits consequences.”
David adds that strategies must change depending on health, marital status, differences in age between spouses, and goals that retirees have for their retirement. A strategy that may work for one retiree could be disastrous for another.
The Boomers Retire works to explore the different paths and the benefits and consequences of specific retirement choices.
Where can I buy The Boomers Retire?
The book is available directly from the publisher, Thomson Reuters.
Of course, you can always check it out from your local library, too.
And David and Alexandra have generously offered readers a chance to win a copy. Let me know in the comments why you think this book deserves a place of pride on your reading shelf, and you’ll be entered into a draw to receive a free copy.