Retirement anxiety is a global issue

retirement anxiety

When it comes to retirement, people all around the world are experiencing retirement according to a research report from Malvern, Penn.-based investment management giant Vanguard Inc.

This is what retirees in four countries think about retirement in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

In both the U.S. and Canada, 65% of recent retirees each felt highly satisfied with their financial situations compared with 53% of pre-retirees in the U.S. and 46% in Canada. In the U.K., 78% of recent retirees were highly satisfied with their financial situations, compared with 52% of pre-retirees.

Australia had slightly lower numbers: 59% of recent retirees were highly satisfied versus 41% of pre-retirees. Vanguard surveyed more than 5,600 investors, split between pre-retirees and recent retirees, in the four countries.

Almost half overall, and even more in the U.S., felt there was a national retirement crisis in their countries, but they didn’t feel they were personally suffering from it. This is likely due to a push around the country to think about their retirement, said Stephen Utkus, director of the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research. “We encourage people to save by telling them about the dire consequences if they don’t,” he said. The participants were all investors with a minimum of $50,000 in investable assets in the four countries, and were between the ages of 55 and 75 years old.

The disconnect between retirees and pre-retirees about their retirement is that the latter has anxiety building up about whether they’ll be okay, while retirees have just experienced it. “Your financial life looks clearer and brighter when you retire,” Utkus said.


There do seem to be challenges looming for some pre-retirees. In many countries, a sizeable amount of people will not be well-prepared for retirement, Utkus said. Americans in particular are not helping themselves, either: only a third save in an employer-sponsored retirement account, for example. But recent research, alongside Vanguard’s, shows perhaps it won’t be so bad after all: only 27% of pre-retirees believe they’ll be ready financially for retirement lasting 10 years, but they say they’re also willing to compromise with their finances, work, family and so on to make it work, according to a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey of more than 4,800 people.

Investors from the four countries had relatively similar perspectives on how they felt about their retirement, but not on how they received advice for it. The U.S. and Canada heavily relied on formal help, from either multiple sources or one, such as financial advisers, while Australia and the U.K. also relied more so on informal help, such as from friends and family, or no help at all. Because the U.K. still has a defined benefit system, though it is moving to a defined contribution system where retirees must rely on themselves for their future savings, they need less help right now, said Utkus. Australia also has the superannuation system, which is a defined contribution program, and may not need as much formal help because their government pension is standardised for everyone and makes it easier to convert their savings into income, Utkus said. The U.S., on the contrary, has a defined contribution system for younger workers, but today’s retirees are also relying on their defined benefit plans.

People felt confident handling decisions by themselves for when to retire and whether to work or not in retirement, and even how to manage their home or estate. Where they needed help was in breaking down income in retirement, and managing their investments. Retirees who did not use a financial adviser said they did not do so because of cost and lack of trust, Utkus said. The U.S. is currently undergoing proposed changes for the financial advice its investors receive: the fiduciary rule, a bill that sought to provide more transparency on advisers’ conflicts of interest and fees, was set to go into effect in April, but President Trump has delayed it until his staff could review.

Many of the investors Vanguard surveyed, except for in the U.K., said they should have saved more: 51% in the U.S., 43% in Canada, 29% in the U.K. and 45% in Australia. Stashing money away for retirement when you’re still young can make a dent in your progress, thanks to compounding interest as well as forming the habit of saving. More than a third in the U.S., Canada and Australia and 24% in the U.K. said they should have started planning earlier. Others said they would have liked to have learned more about government benefits available to them and found a financial adviser. Planning and saving when you’re younger can be difficult, what with balancing far-off goals and current necessities and desires, but it’s imperative experts in the U.S. said.


This post originally appeared on Market Watch.

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