Clients, in general, are bad about even trying to figure out what their retirement number is—that is, the pool of assets they will need to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Even more difficult is figuring out if they are on track. One simple method is mentioned in The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. From Yahoo! Finance:
Thomas Stanley and William Danko, authors of the bestselling book “The Millionaire Next Door,” suggest that you simply take your age and multiply it by your current annual income before taxes from all sources (except for inheritances, which are only paid once). Divide the total by 10, and the quotient is what your net worth should be at that point in your life.
So, for example, if you are making $80,000 per year and you are now 45 years old, this simple formula suggests that to stay on track your net worth should be about $360,000. There are a lot of assumptions that go into this, obviously, and there are better and more accurate ways to figure out if you are on track (for example, we use a % funded spreadsheet), but it’s a start. Given current return expectations, this simple formula might understate what you will require, but anything that will motivate clients to get moving in the right direction is a help.