Retirement Perspectives: Pondering the Next Stage in the Evolution of Retirement

A recent survey shows that there is no single path to retirement.  Franklin Templeton’s June 2021 “Voice of the American Worker” survey confirms that retirement today feels “less cookie cutter than it used to be,” according to 82% of those polled. The survey found that individuals can benefit from personalized guidance to achieve their financial goals — an area where a financial advisor can help. The survey also showed that many participants are looking to their employers for more tools and resources. But most of all, the survey found that the way participants think about retirement is changing.

A More Holistic View of Financial Well-Being
The vast majority of survey respondents associate their current physical, mental and financial health with well-being. More than half say their financial well-being isn’t primarily about money but also includes their health and lifestyle. Interestingly, while workers today place nearly equal importance on mental, physical and financial health, they feel the least in control of their financial health as compared to their physical and mental health.

The Changing Retirement Landscape
80% of respondents agree that the traditional idea of retirement is no longer accurate for most people’s expectations or experiences, while at the same time, three quarters say that their future financial goals and plans look different today than they did five years ago. Respondents also feel it is more important to achieve financial freedom than to retire but that financial freedom is not always as attainable. More specifically, 76% of respondents say there is appeal in achieving financial freedom, whereas only 56% of those respondents think it is likely achievable. At the same time, 69% of respondents say there is appeal in retirement, whereas 61% of those respondents say it is likely achievable — a notably smaller gap.

The Future of Workplace Benefits
Three out of four workers want their workplace to provide more resources to help them with their overall financial well-being, believing their employer should provide incentives for good financial habits — as well as good health habits. In fact, workers are more interested in long-term support over today’s monetary gains, with most preferring a boosted 401(k) match to a raise. Nine in 10 respondents are also looking for tools to visualize their future and optimize well-being, with top choices being planning tools and resources. Tools designed to help achieve financial independence and visualize long- and short-term financial goals side by side top their wish list.

While the evolution of the retirement landscape is not exactly something a plan sponsor can control or predict, by offering optimal workplace benefits and resources, you are demonstrating the value you see in your workplace and the support being offered to better assist associates in gaining financial stability. The WoodTrust retirement plan website recently introduced a Financial Wellness tool accessible on the homepage of each participant’s account. Within this tool are dozens of financial education resources and programs made accessible to your plan participants and their households. The tools go above and beyond the retirement plan and offer resources on overall financial wellness and meeting financial stability strategies.

Contact your WoodTrust Relationship Manager if you’d like to coordinate an education session for your staff on the new Financial Wellness tool.