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Category: Sales · 5 min read

Today’s Retirement vs. 25 Years Ago

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on October 17, 2019

author profile photo

on October 17, 2019

Senior-age couple out in nature and smiling

Do you remember where you were 25 years ago? That’s 1994, if you don’t want to do the math. I was in a very different spot back then, just beginning my career as a financial professional and working directly with clients. 

I can tell you without a doubt that retirement and planning for retirement is a lot different today than it was back in 1994. The world has changed, and so have our attitudes and behaviors. Back then, we didn’t have cell phones, social media, easy access to the internet, or a lot of the helpful technology we do now.  

Today, your clients’ finances and retirement accounts are more digital and complicated than ever before. Understanding the current retirement landscape and what your clients are/will be going through can help you serve them and prepare them for the road ahead. Here are six ways today’s retirement picture differs from 25 years ago.  

 

It’s Online 

More financial information is available online than ever before. There’s 401(k) balances, online enrollment, bill pay, and investment and money management apps. Basically, your clients have access to monitor and manage their money online, if they want. Their retirement accounts are online, and their tech skills are growing.  

What about you? Is your client experience online? Do you connect with your clients online? If not, it’s time to embrace the digital age. Create social media pages for your business and build a website that’s mobile-friendly and makes it easy to contact you. 

 

It’s More Stressful 

Retirement today is also more stressful. Why? I think there are a few main reasons. First, with more information online and just a login away, retirees have more access and visibility. They can watch their 401(k) go up or down on a daily basis. They can monitor their bank accounts. They can manage more and have more control. Seeing their finances fluctuate so often can become worrisome and time-consuming. 

Rising health care costs have also become another factor retirees have to consider. They have to enroll in Medicare at specific times, either in-person or online. They have to make sure they have enough coverage and money saved as health care costs rise, and they have to account for things like long-term care and Medigap insurance coverage.  

There are also more decisions to make when it comes to planning for retirement. If your clients have a 401(k), they have to decide what to invest into it, when to take money from it, and how much to take out. Another thing to consider: In 1994, the Roth IRA hadn’t been created yet. Now, there are more retirement account options and strategies than there used to be, which makes planning for retirement that much more complicated. 

 

It’s Starting Later 

The days of retiring at age 50 or 60 are mostly gone. Retiring early is now rare and not possible for many. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the average age Americans retire is 631, and even that seems generous. Retirement can be delayed for many reasons, but the most common are not enough savings or income and the desire to continue working. Plus, it may be more beneficial for your clients to delay their Social Security benefits until their full retirement age of 67, so they can get the most out of their Social Security.  

Bottom line: starting retirement later may be a good thing, and it’s become a common thing.  

Retirement can be delayed for many reasons, but the most common are not enough savings or income and the desire to continue working.

It’s Longer 

Did you know this? According to the Social Security Administration, on average, men who are 65 will live to age 84 and women who are 65 will live to age 86.5.2 Plus, one in three 65-year-olds will live past age 90, and one in seven will live past age 95.2 

We’re living longer than we used to, thanks to medical advancements and technology. This means that your clients’ retirement savings and income needs to last longer, too. So, help them prepare their finances for a long life in retirement.  

Because people are living longer, they’re also needing more long-term care. A 2018 study by the Moll Law Group, a personal injury firm, found that 70 percent of people will need long-term care, but only 46 percent think they’ll need it.3 They also discovered that the out-of-pocket cost for long-term care is more than $47,000 over a person’s lifetime.3 So, it may be worth it for your clients to purchase long-term care insurance to avoid those extra expenses. 

 

It’s in a 401(k) 

Back in 1994, defined-benefit plans, or pensions, were what everyone had. Now, they aren’t as common and have been largely replaced by 401(k)s. Now, instead of a fixed benefit amount from a pension, your clients have to ride the potential ups and downs of their 401(k).  

 

It’s More Work 

A new report from Wells Fargo revealed that the number of seniors (age 65 or older) in the workforce is rising, and should continue to rise in the coming years.4 That means more retirees are going back to work to supplement their retirement income. 

Why? Well, it could be due to the fact that 63% of baby boomers are worried about outliving their savings and 58% are thinking about reducing their expenses in retirement.4 There’s a need to have more income and fewer expenses, and re-entering the workforce can help with that. So, more retirees are working part-time jobs and finding new passions. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a realistic retirement where it’s not ALL play and no work.  

Retirement is very different from 25 years ago, and in 25 years from now, it’s going to be even more different. I like looking back and seeing how things have changed. It helps shine some light on how we got where we are today. And, maybe most importantly, it can help you help your clients prepare for the current retirement landscape they’re about to enter.  

 

Sources: 

1. Anspach, Dana. “Average Retirement Age in the United States.” The Balance. Aug. 12, 2019. https://www.thebalance.com/average-retirement-age-in-the-united-states-2388864 

2. Social Security Administration. “Benefits Planner | Life Expectancy.” 2019. https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html 

3. Moll Law Group. “The Cost of Long-Term Care.” 2018. https://www.molllawgroup.com/the-cost-of-long-term-care.html 

4. Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Reimagining Retirement: Generational Strategies for 21st Century Challenges.” Apr. 2019. https://saf.wellsfargoadvisors.com/emx/dctm/Research/wfii/wfii_reports/Investment_Strategy/reimagining_retirement.pdf  

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Written By

Mark Williams

President and CEO

Mark Williams is the President/CEO of Brokers International. Over his more than 25 years of financial services experience, Mark has been both a producing independent agent in the field and a home office leader consulting to agencies and field marketing organizations. Currently, Mark is focused on the future of the insurance industry, from the disruptions of InsurTech and robo-advisors to the changing demographics and needs of customers. He also is an avid mentor, helping financial professionals navigate the industry.

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