Pondering the Next Stage in the Evolution of Retirement

A recent survey confirms 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 (74%), mental (70%), and financial (66%) health with well-being. More than half say their financial well-being isn’t primarily about money but includes their health and lifestyle (57%). Interestingly, while workers today place nearly equal importance on mental (81%), physical (80%), and financial (76%) health, they feel the least in control of their financial (55%) health as compared to their physical (62%) and mental (58%) health.

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 (75%), believing their employer should provide incentives for good financial habits (79%) — as well as good health habits (78%). 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 (89%). Tools designed to help achieve financial independence (35%) and visualize long- and short-term financial goals side by side (35%) top their wish list.

The Changing Retirement Landscape

Eighty percent 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 (75%) 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% think it is likely achievable. At the same time, 69% say there is appeal in retirement, whereas 61% say it is likely achievable — a notably smaller gap.

Workers identified their most important financial milestones today as financial freedom (76%) and financial independence (74%), also indicating that financial independence feels more empowering than retirement (81%). Women find financial independence particularly appealing (81% vs. 68% men).


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