When it comes to traditional retirement plans, you’ve heard it a million times: To develop a comprehensive retirement plan, you need to figure out your goals and develop the best strategy to help achieve them. Investors often define those goals only in terms of what they want to accomplish personally and financially. While those are two important pillars of a strategy, a comprehensive retirement plan will not stand on those two legs alone.

Given people’s lifetime career paths have evolved, it’s more important than ever for investors and advisers to make career choices a part of the planning process. The career landscape has undergone a dramatic shift from a lifelong employer system to one where holding multiple jobs throughout the course of your professional life is both common and encouraged. A recent LinkedIn study noted that job-hopping in the first five years after college has nearly doubled in the last 20 years . When you consider that today, 90% percent of an average American’s net worth is accumulated after age 40 , moving from job-to-job, changing or interrupting careers early in professional life is a lot more understandable.

Because of that change, professional considerations play as big of a role in an investor’s long-term success as personal or financial goals. They have a tremendous impact on long-term retirement strategies and earnings, and including them during the planning process makes it easier to develop the right plan.

In response to this reality, my firm, McAdam, created the Advanced Advisory Model™ to specifically address all three aspects of an advanced retirement plan – personal, financial and professional decisions – and make them equal drivers of retirement-planning strategy. After years of experience and careful research on the most common career decisions, we’ve identified five distinct career paths and how their unique characteristics and challenges can shape your retirement.

These are contract workers, or professionals who choose to regularly move from job-to-job, spending a few years at each company before deciding to move on to a higher salary, different location or new challenge.

Either by choice or by circumstance, this professional is taking time off from the workforce for an often-undetermined amount of time. Examples include stay-at-home parents, laid-off workers and those going back to school to earn advanced degrees (for example, MBA or Ph.D.) and designations.

This would be a professional who decides after some time in one industry to change careers in order to find something more fulfilling, lucrative or enjoyable.

A professional, with or without industry experience, may want to start a business, invent and market a new technology or service or get involved in a start-up.

Some professionals take a more traditional career path, staying with one employer for an entire career with no desire to leave and working their way up to manager, director or managing partner. Loyalists may also acquire advanced degrees or industry certifications along the way.

The typical American spend about 40 years in the workforce, often putting in long hours to someday be able to reap the fruits of their labor. However, the typical American rarely fully understands the impact of their careers on retirement decisions. That’s ultimately where financial professionals can help the most. Not only do professionals need to adjust their clients’ portfolios based on where they project their career going, but they also need to be able to pivot if the trajectory changes along the way. Balancing professional decisions with personal and financial decisions is a critical aspect of retirement planning, and it needs to be part of the process from Day One.

Phil Simonides, CFP®, is Senior Vice President at McAdam , where he oversees the firm’s Washington, D.C., metro, New York City metro and Boston offices.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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