Many Americans, millennials especially, are lagging when it comes to saving for retirement. “People aren’t putting away enough money,” said Michael DiCenso, managing director, investment strategies at Mesirow Financial.

That’s why the conversation advisers have with their clients needs to change, DiCenso said Monday at the SPARK Institute’s national conference in Washington, D.C. Most people look at retirement as its own issue, however, it’s connected to all other financial aspects of life like saving for children’s college and medical expenses.

“We need to get people to think about retirement holistically,” DiCenso said. “It needs to be around every aspect of their life.”

A big problem many individuals have is a false sense of security about their retirement funds, DiCenso said. A lot of people express confidence about the amount they’ve saved, but they don’t have an ultimate figure they hope to reach. “If you don’t know what the target is, how are you going to hit it?” DiCenso said.

That target varies depending on the individual, he said, but employees should be saving between 12% and 15% annually for 20-plus years to have enough to retire. “That’s not happening,” DiCenso said.

In fact, some retirees are in the red. These plan participants — such as a person in their mid-50s who refinances their house — should seek counsel from an adviser, DiCenso said. “They need to go into retirement debt-free,” he said.

That might mean encouraging a change of lifestyle. “We’ve got to help people manage this,” DiCenso said. “If people continue to live longer, who is going to take care of them?”

Engaging milennials requires a method other than handing out literature, DiCenso said. “They learn in a different way. They really don’t read, they scan,” he said. Initially, milennials are averse to one-on-one conversations, DiCenso said, but later on they do want in-person education.

Also see: DOL proposed fiduciary rule: What advisers need to know

In the wake of the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule, some advisers are switching to a purely educational role, no longer serving as fiduciaries and focusing on consulting, DiCenso said. Other advisers are trying to figure out how to stay in business and grow their business, he said.

The latter can be difficult. In order to keep revenue where it is today, advisers need new clients, DiCenso said. However, they have very little time to devote to new business development, he said. A new, streamlined business model that focuses on efficiency and value is needed, DiCenso said. “They have to evolve or die,” he said. 

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