I encourage you to read the following and think about the possible implications to you and your satisfying retirement. I ask you to leave a comment at the end with your reaction and thoughts.
Americans have emerged from the economic recession with a new set of expectations around the purpose, timing and funding of their retirement. Not only is retirement being postponed, but it no longer means an end to working—retirement is now a new chapter in life. The SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set Study is a nationwide survey of Americans age 55 and older that takes an in-depth look at this new retirement mindset. Developed in collaboration with Age Wave and conducted by Harris Interactive, the study found a significant shift in attitudes and actions since 2001 when SunAmerica conducted its initial landmark retirement study, Re-Visioning Retirement.
The SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set Study is the first major study of its kind to specifically assess the impact of the recession on America’s mindset, family dynamics, lifestyle expectations and financial planning for retirement. The study reveals that while the recession had a financial and emotional impact, Americans are emerging from the tumult of the last few years empowered, and with a more pragmatic and disciplined approach to retirement and retirement preparation. Here is a summary of the key findings.
1: Retirement Mindset Re-Set
- One-third of Americans age 55 and older say their financial assets have not yet recovered to pre-recession levels. Almost half (46%) say their home is worth less now than it was before the recession.
- Americans are recovering from the “recession mind-bender.” The percentage of people who felt secure dropped dramatically during the recession but is now on the rebound. Similarly, people became more worried and angry during the recession but are now increasingly optimistic.
- A new outlook: Today, 54% view retirement as a new chapter in life, rather than a winding down—a significant increase over the 38% that held a similar view a decade ago.
2: Re-Setting Timing and Purpose:
- Retirement is being postponed: Pre-retirees say they now intend to delay retirement by five years—from age 64 to age 69—triggered in part by increasing longevity, as well as the recession and financial need.
- Retirement no longer means the end of work: Almost two-thirds say they would ideally like to remain productive and include work in retirement.
- The top reason people want to work during retirement is “the stimulation and satisfaction” rather than the money.
- Americans 55 and older say that baby boomers are more likely to have less in entitlements, less money for retirement and less respect from younger generations compared to prior generations of retirees. However, they also expect boomers to be more active and youthful, have more opportunities to learn and grow, and experience more interesting lives.
3: Re-Setting Values and Obligations:
- 85% say they now appreciate the importance of quality relationships with their friends and family even more after the recession.
- Asked how the recession affected their financial situation and investment strategy, 96% say it’s important to protect themselves and their families against financial uncertainties.
- Nearly half of Americans 55 and older expect to provide intergenerational support for family members and, in a new twist on childcare, 70% of those believe their adult children will need financial assistance.
- Financial peace of mind is now 6x more important than accumulating wealth: 82% name it their key financial goal.
- Protecting assets is now 5x more important to investors than higher-risk returns.
4: Re-Setting Long Life Expectations:
- “Remaining productive” is now seen as the top benefit of living a very long life, followed by “deepening relationships with family” and “witnessing new discoveries as the world evolves.”
- Nearly half of today’s retirees retired earlier than they planned. The top reason people give for early retirement is unexpected health problems.
- Asked what their financial challenges are for retirement preparation, people say their top concern is higher taxes.
5: Re-Setting Financial Solutions:
- Three-quarters say the last several years have provided a much-needed financial wake-up call, and 81% report they have learned important lessons regarding saving, investing and preparing for retirement.
- Americans believe they can still “get there from here,” and 78% say they can still have a fulfilling retirement by being more financially disciplined.
- Post-recession, people are seeking financial solutions that won’t lose value and can help their money go the distance.
6: Re-Setting the Path to a Satisfying Retirement:
- There are four distinct segments of Americans age 55 and older based on their retirement attitudes, expectations and behaviors: Ageless Explorers (20% of respondents), Cautiously Contents (18%), Live for Todays (27%) and Worried Strugglers (35%).
- The first two groups are enjoying their retirement and have a high level of happiness and financial security.
- The second two retiree groups are struggling due to misfortune and/or bad planning. Over the past decade, the percentage of those age 55 and older who are “Ageless Explorers” and “Cautiously Contents” fell from 46% to 38%. Meanwhile the percentage of people who fall in the two segments who are having a difficult time—the “Live for Todays” and “Worried Strugglers”—rose from 54% to 62%.
SunAmerica Financial Group (SAFG) is the enterprise name for a group of companies offering insurance, retirement and investment services through a diverse family of financial services companies. Copyright ©
2011, SunAmerica Financial Group. All rights reserved.
This is important information. What group are you in? Do you identify yourself in these results? Please leave a comment and let's talk about it.
Note: just after this post was added to the blog I received the following news release from ABC:
Next week “World News” cracks the code for a happy retirement. During a special week-long series, ABC’s Claire Shipman goes in search of boomers rewriting the rules of retirement with an in-depth look at the “Retirement Revolution” taking place across the country. We show you the amazing new ways boomers are pursuing their dreams, surprising new strategies to help them afford their big new goals, and breakthroughs that promise to give boomers the energy and health to do it all. Reports will begin airing on “World News with Diane Sawyer” on Monday, July 18.