Retirement readiness is an important part of financial wellness yet many people approach retirement feeling ill prepared and often realize too late that planning for such an important financial milestone was something they should have paid greater attention to earlier in their working lives.
What is retirement readiness?
The DC Institutional Investment Association's Financial Wellness Task Force (DCIIA) defines retirement readiness as varying by individual and based on:
- his or her goals and needs in retirement;
- wealth outside of the retirement plan;
- ability and desire to generate income in retirement years,
and other factors such as longevity.
A lack of employee retirement readiness costs employers
The reasons employees benefit from being retirement ready are pretty easy to understand and appreciate. What about from the employer's perspective? When employees don't feel they have the financial freedom to choose the ideal time to retire, there is a stronger tendency for them to stay in jobs that disrupt the natural progression of the workplace. The greater the number of older workers, the greater the propensity to experience increases in the cost of salaries, health care, worker's compensation and disability.
As per the DCIIA's Financial Wellness Task Force, retirement readiness is critical for an employer to appropriately manage its human capital. Additionally, an employer's approach to educating about retirement planning can help attract and retain employees, but also manage the cost of its workforce.
With more than 10,000 Baby-boomers turning age 65 on a daily basis, the topic of retirement readiness takes centre stage. The question remains, who is financially ready to retire?
Who's ready to retire?
Prudential's report, Do You Have a Good Sense of Your Retirement Readiness, indicates that more than 43 per cent of Americans inaccurately assess their retirement preparedness. Their inaccuracy can go either way -- perhaps worrying too much or not enough.
In an annual human resources study conducted by Morneau Shepell Ltd in July 2017, the results from questioning 370 employers across Canada revealed that over 90 per cent of HR leaders worry about employees' level of retirement preparedness. This concern was greater for those participating in defined contribution rather than defined benefit pension plans.
In New York Life's Financial Stress and Retirement Readiness Report, 73 per cent of respondents reported feeling moderate to extreme financial stress over the last 6 months and 60 per cent said they were behind or far behind schedule in their saving for retirement.
How do you assess retirement readiness?
According to Sibson Consulting's report, Quantifying Retirement Readiness, assessment factors include three typical metrics:
1) Replacement ratio -- this ratio is the required income for retirement as a percentage of income just before retirement. This is often represented as a ratio of 70 to 85 per cent of pre-retirement income (including government sponsored programs such as Old Age Security and the Canada or Quebec Pension Plan). Many assume age 65 as the most common retirement age.
2) Wealth accumulation target -- this is the total savings an employee needs to carry through the length of their retirement. For example, if an employee retires at age 65 and aims to replace 85 per cent of his income, he needs 11 times his final pay. The target amount decreases for each year the employee pushes back his retirement date.
3) Retirement readiness grade -- this is a grade given to employees to track their financial preparedness and retirement readiness progress.
There are many reasons why employers are incorporating educational components specifically related to retirement readiness into their wellness programs, financial literacy campaigns and pension plan education workshops. When employees are stressed and anxious about their financial present and future, they tend to be less productive and more distracted at work. Lapses in quality are linked to customer satisfaction. When these decrease, the risk to a company's bottom line may also be compromised.
Taking an intergenerational approach to supporting retirement readiness for all employees is something we're keen to talk to you about. We invite you to contact us. We know that helping employees confidently save for their goals including retirement benefits the employer too. We'd like to explore options that are best suited to your workforce needs. As always, we're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.