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The Changing Nature of Retirement June 2019

Are You Ready?

When change takes place slowly, one day you realize that what you took as a given is no longer true. That day has arrived.

In the 1970s, two seemingly unrelated events took place that would, at some future time, change the nature of retirement: Baby Boomers began to flex their muscle in the consumer marketplace, and 401(k) plans became part of the tax code, shifting responsibility for postwork income largely from employer to employee. Now, the majority of Boomers are close to, or have reached, the traditional retirement age (65) with insufficient retirement savings in 401(k) plans and no pension.

Boomers are not the only ones unprepared for retirement. Most organizations and institutions are unprepared for the potentially enormous effects of what will happen when the majority of Boomers are no longer in a position to spend freely. Every aspect of society will be affected, and every assumption about and aspect of retirement will face questions, challenges, and inevitable alterations. The financial-services industry may be the first—but is not the only—sector to feel the changes.

The MacroMonitor is in a unique position to document retirement changes in US economic households, because this comprehensive survey has been doing so for more than 40 years. The Changing Nature of Retirement captures what changes have taken place in retirement preparedness between 1996 and 2016. The more successful providers in the future will adjust and innovate to take advantage of these inevitable changes today. The Changing Nature of Retirement provides a road map of some of these changes for enlightened institutions that want to continue as successful services providers.

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