Like a Good Wine, It's Complex

Like a Good Wine, It's Complex

My wife and I enjoy a good wine. We try to have some with our Friday date night at our local favorite restaurants and recently took a trip to Sonoma County, California, to tour the vineyards. It was nice to spend time with my wife in a place unfrequented by polar vortexes.

I confess I'm fascinated by the craft of wine-making. I wish I had more time to learn about the process. Winemakers manipulate the flavor of the grape, which affects the wine’s taste, aroma and how it feels on your pallet. Much of it relates to climate and environment – how much sun the grape received, the dryness and the quality of the soil.

Some things are more in the winemaker’s control, such as the placement of the vineyard, the type of wine vessels and the length of fermentation. Each of these decisions affects the smell, flavor and taste of the end product.

The complexity of income planning is like a winemaker’s development process. Most people look at their assets as they might look at an ordinary bottle of wine. "Yep," they say. "It’s wine. That’s all I need." But just like a good wine, there are many factors that go into retirement income planning. Some are out of your control, but many are our choice. Just like a good wine, it's up to us to help control the end product.

To create a fine wine, winemakers use different tools. To plan for retirement, you also have to use different tools and strategies.

Asset Location
Award-winning winemakers match grape crops to the optimal soil mixture. We must place our clients’ assets in the proper location to make sure the income is optimal.

Going Beyond Accumulation

Even if you have enough grapes, that does not ensure that you make a bottle of great wine. As planners, we must match our clients’ desires with products that create optimal outcomes for them.

Plan Ahead

The element that makes a great wine takes years to develop. Our clients need to know their options to make an optimal retirement outcome, and that conversation needs to happen early.

Winning Strategy

Think like a winemaker. Use all the tools available. Take all contingencies into consideration when you are developing retirement income strategies. It could mean the difference between a sweet, robust retirement… and vinegar.


About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a team leader, retirement industry activist and disciple of Indiana Hoosier basketball. In addition to being EVP of retirement at Ash Brokerage, he is a sought-after writer and speaker. His web series, “Winning Strategies,” provides insight and motivation for financial advisors in many forms – blogs, books, videos, podcasts and more. His latest book, “Free Throw for Financial Professionals,” is available now – learn more at