New Retirement Realities And The Longevity Bonus

OCEAN CITY — With people living and often working longer than any preceding generation, a recent study examines their perspectives about preparing for retirement and living the best life that they can during their later years.

How are people adjusting to this great life transition in today’s environment? How have their attitudes about retirement shifted in response to new realities? What do they expect and worry most about? What do they really think about the longevity bonus and rest of their life?

These and other questions are the focus of the 2013 Merrill Lynch Retirement Study, conducted in partnership with Age Wave, experts on the aging population.

Completed in January 2013, the study is based on a nationwide survey of more than 6,300 respondents age 45 and older. Age Wave is the nation’s foremost thought leader on population aging and its profound business, social, healthcare, financial, workforce and cultural implications.

Findings from the study reveal new insights into people’s approaches to and thoughts about retirement, such as:

Finances: When it comes to financial goals, achieving peace of mind is seven times more important to Boomers than accumulating wealth.

Reinvention: Today’s retirees are largely not retiring — they view the "longevity bonus" as a chance to explore new options, pursue old dreams and live life to the fullest.

Family Interdependencies: With today’s economic uncertainty, and with many family members struggling financially, balancing an individual’s or couple’s retirement needs with the needs of parents, siblings, children and grandchildren is a growing and complicated challenge.

Connections: Today’s retirees are finding comfort, meaning and safety in connections with family, friends, communities and trusted guides.

Traditional Values: Retirees today define happiness not in terms of dollars but in terms of new experiences, peace of mind, helping family and making a difference.

The study also offers new insights about sources of concern and the need for guidance, including:

Health Disruptions: Health problems and the cost of healthcare now top the list of retirement worries — even more so among the affluent.

Falling Short: People don’t know exactly how long they will live and feel insecure about their ability to support a very long life.

Home and Community: People are concerned about where they should live in retirement, as well as the need to support adult children and parents’ housing and eldercare needs.

The study reveals a strong desire among those approaching and in retirement to know more about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, to gain greater clarity about what they hope to achieve, and to understand what is possible.

Most people understand that retirement planning is not a ‘once and done’ proposition,” said David Tyrie, head of Personal Wealth and Retirement for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Where guidance is needed most is helping people understand how all of these variables and decisions work together over time. At Merrill Lynch, we are developing a new approach to help people carefully consider nearly all aspects of their life when planning for and living in retirement, including health care costs, family, giving, home, work, leisure and finances.”

 (A Merrill Lynch senior financial advisor, who can be reached at 410-213-8520.)