Really Nothing Good in These #s

We’ve reported previously on the results of the Natixis Global Retirement Study. 2021’s results are out and the United States has fallen one spot to #17. Not much to be proud about given that ranking. Sure, we are one place ahead of the United Kingdom, but we trail the likes of Slovenia and the Czech Republic. We have 100,000s of well-intentioned individuals feverishly working on behalf of current and future retirees, but that effort isn’t creating the outcomes that our workers and retirees obviously need and want.

According to the study, the index “incorporates 18 performance indicators, grouped into four thematic sub-indices, which have been calculated on the basis of reliable data from a range of international organizations and academic sources. It takes into account the particular characteristics of the older demographic retiree group in order to assess and compare the level of retirement security in different countries around the world.” Those thematic sub-indices are Health, Quality of Life, Material Well-being, and Finances in Retirement. Regrettably, the U.S. doesn’t score in the top 10 in any of these categories. Shockingly, it scores in 34th place for life expectancy, which craters the overall Health ranking despite scoring well in 2 of the 3 main sections.

Importantly:

80% of individuals (including 77% of business owners in our survey) believe companies should be responsible for helping them achieve a secure retirement. In addition, 80% of individuals say they would be more inclined to work for a company that offered matching contributions to their retirement savings plan. That’s fine and dandy, but we’ve seen companies quickly eliminate or slash matches in DC plans when economic times get challenging.

If our goal is to provide a dignified retirement to our participants, then we as an industry need to do a much better job. Retirees need a monthly annuity that they can count on. Asking untrained individuals to fund, manage, and then disburse a “retirement” benefit with little skill to do this is a ridiculous exercise. Trying to manage a retirement portfolio in this low-interest rate environment is incredibly challenging and forces participants to chase more aggressive/risky strategies. I’m a huge fan of traditional defined benefit plans, but the private sector has abandoned them, and individual workers are less interested in working for one company anymore. I just read this morning that the average worker will have 12 employers during their career.

Lastly, too many American workers aren’t earning nearly enough to provide for their needs today let alone allocate a percentage of their incomes to a retirement benefit years away. Sure, I’ve read many an article about how people had wished they’d saved more for retirement, but you can’t get blood from a stone.

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