Today, Bank of America Merrill Lynch released a breakthrough new study, which revealed major gaps in retirement readiness. Among pre-retirees, the survey discovered that half don’t have any positive financial role models and consider finance topics too taboo to discuss openly. Furthermore, financial decisions are the most second-guessed of any major life decisions, and people are more concerned about their personal economy than the overall economy. The study also explores a vast range of lifestyle and financial trade-offs and course corrections people would be willing to make to help achieve a more financially secure future.
This new study, “Finances in Retirement: New Challenges, New Solutions”, is the capstone of eight studies conducted in partnership with Age Wave. This study concludes a first-of-its-kind, four-year, 50,000-respondent investigation focused on understanding the transforming nature of retirement through seven interconnected “life priorities” – family, work, health, home, giving, leisure and finances.
Key findings from this latest survey of more than 4,800 respondents include:
“As Americans gear up for longer retirement experiences, the responsibility for funding these later years is landing much more on their shoulders,” said Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions at Merrill Lynch. “To navigate this new landscape, today’s retirees and future generations will need to play a more active role, which includes closing the savings ‘intention-action’ gap, planning ahead to meet their retirement goals and regularly course-correcting along the way.”
Today’s picture of retirement readiness shows significant room for improvement. Americans age 50+ graded themselves a “C-minus,” on average, for financial and savings behaviors. The survey also found the need to both encourage new discussions and break some taboos around sensitive but important financial topics in order to close knowledge gaps and increase confidence:
“In order to better experience the great ‘upsides of aging’ and the new freedoms retirement can offer, people could take steps to better understand their finances, more openly discuss finance topics and seek out positive role models – and that process can start now, no matter what age you are,” said Kevin Crain, head of Workplace Financial Solutions. “This also opens doors for employers to play an even larger role in empowering Americans to financially prepare for their futures.”
Although most retirement preparedness studies have focused primarily on savings patterns, this investigation uncovered a myriad of trade-offs Americans would consider in order to improve their financial security during retirement. As tens of millions of boomers migrate into retirement, we’re likely to see a range of potential course corrections to modify family spending, continue working, downsize or relocate one’s home, barter time for services and even new innovations in the “sharing economy” geared to retirees. Some examples of course corrections include:
“This study underscores that thriving in retirement requires looking through the interconnected lenses of all major life priorities – family, health, home, work, leisure, giving and finances – and anticipating how you want to live, what matters most to you, and the trade-offs you can make today to more generously fund your future self,” said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Age Wave. “Although we are all challenged to fund our longer lives, this suite of studies has repeatedly revealed that Americans remain quite hopeful and are willing to consider a wide range of course corrections in order to enjoy a secure retirement.”
1 Federal Reserve, 2016 November
Age Wave is the nation’s foremost thought leader on population aging and its profound business, social, financial, health care, workforce, and cultural implications. Under the leadership of Founder/CEO Dr. Ken Dychtwald, Age Wave has developed a unique understanding of new generations of maturing consumers and workers and their expectations, attitudes, hopes, and fears regarding retirement. Since its inception in 1986, the firm has provided breakthrough research, compelling presentations, award-winning communications, education and training systems, and results-driven marketing and consulting initiatives to over half the Fortune 500. For more information, please visit www.agewave.com. (Age Wave is not affiliated with Bank of America Corporation.)
Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is a leading provider of comprehensive wealth management and investment services for individuals and businesses globally. With 14,629 financial advisors and $2.1 trillion in client balances as of December 31, 2016, it is among the largest businesses of its kind in the world. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management specializes in goals-based wealth management, including planning for retirement, education, legacy, and other life goals through investment, cash and credit management. Within Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, the Private Banking and Investment Group focuses on the unique and personalized needs of wealthy individuals, families and their businesses. These clients are served by more than 190 highly specialized private wealth advisor teams, along with experts in areas such as investment management, concentrated stock management and intergenerational wealth transfer strategies. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is part of Bank of America Corporation.
Bank of America is one of the world's leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 46 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,600 retail financial centers, approximately 15,900 ATMs, and award-winning online banking with approximately 34 million active accounts and nearly 22 million mobile active users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
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