Employers Asked to Take Part in Meeting Americans’ Retirement Income Needs

An economic report discusses Baby Boomers’ lack of retirement readiness and how a new framework for income security is needed as more and more people turn 65.

There’s a wave of people turning 65—the traditional retirement age—but that will peak in 2024, according to the Alliance for Lifetime Income, a nonprofit consumer education organization.

The alliance published an economic report that addresses how underprepared millions of Baby Boomers are for retirement and proposes ideas for a new retirement security framework. Author Jason Fichtner, a senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a research fellow with the Alliance for Lifetime Income and the Retirement Income Institute, suggests that the three-legged stool for retirement income security—pensions, Social Security and personal savings—is no longer sturdy.

Fichtner says a new framework is needed and calls on employers, financial professionals and policymakers to each take a part in meeting Americans’ retirement income needs.

His framework says employers should ensure their employees have better access through their workplace retirement plans to solutions that generate protected income easily and efficiently. He suggests that employers consider using “trial annuities” as part of workplace retirement plans to mitigate behavioral hurdles to annuitization and encourage adoption of proven protected income strategies. He also says employers should make professional financial advice, education and retirement income planning a key workplace benefit.

Fichtner suggests financial professionals advise clients on income planning, Social Security planning and the need for adequate sources of protected income in retirement to maintain a desired standard of living. He says they should provide clients with more robust retirement income education and resources to encourage optimal Social Security claiming strategies. In addition, he urges financial professionals to consider incorporating annuities into clients’ retirement portfolios as a way for them to generate protected income—especially in today’s low-rate environment.

Policymakers should continue to pursue policy improvements and modernization to promote broad access to efficient protected income solutions for individuals, Fichtner urges. He also encourages them to work with the private sector to ensure that lifetime income disclosure practices continue to improve based on new research-driven framing practices and plan participant behavior.

“The countdown to peak 65 is on and is a wake-up call that the retirement income crisis in America is no longer just looming, it’s here,” says Jean Statler, CEO of the Alliance for Lifetime Income. “Boomers realize they may be living 20, 30 or more years in retirement, which is why it makes sense that their No. 1 concern is outliving their savings. Similarly, our Alliance research shows they’re worried about having enough money to cover their essential monthly expenses, now and throughout retirement. That’s why there’s more urgency now than ever before for collective action to equip Boomers—as well as those that follow—with retirement plans that include protected income to fill the gap that Social Security leaves, which will give them the protection and security they need and want.”

The report, “The Peak 65 Generation: Creating A New Retirement Security Framework,” is available here.