More Than 40% of 401(k) Plan Participants Lack an Official Source of Retirement Advice

March 16, 2020 — Boston

Advisors must assess retirement readiness and provide clients with holistic solutions

With approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day, the need for financial planning and advice is greater than ever, according to The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retirement Edition. The sheer volume of retirees provides an opportunity for advisors to expand their services to more individuals approaching retirement as they navigate the complex set of decisions ahead.

Cerulli’s research indicates that many 401(k) plan participants (including half of participants in their 50s) lack an official source of retirement advice, and this “advice gap” is particularly acute for investors in lower wealth tiers. Anastasia Krymkowski, associate director at Cerulli Associates, suggests, “Tools and calculators helping investors translate account balances to replacement ratios and overall ‘retirement readiness’ (including assumptions for market returns and life expectancy) are hardly new, but providers must realize the need for expanded customization in this regard.”

Advisors must also work to identify client pain points and consider all retirement income streams, such as Social Security—often an overlooked, yet vital part of retirement income. Cerulli’s research shows that only 18% of active participants anticipate that Social Security will represent their primary source of retirement income, yet Social Security comprises the largest portion of income for retired households with less than $2 million in investable assets.

Meanwhile, nearly half of participants expect to draw on their 401(k) as a primary source of income in retirement. “To deliver an effective and attractive retirement income solution, providers and financial advisors must emphasize Social Security and propose strategies that integrate government benefits with income generated from other investment products,” says Krymkowski.

Cerulli posits that there is a growing awareness of the need for affordable, high-tech retirement planning services to help manage multiple streams of retirement income in a tax-efficient manner. As Baby Boomers transition to retirement and face these challenges, more comprehensive retirement income solutions are making inroads into employer-sponsored benefit plans and the retail wealth management space. Krymkowski adds, “Providers and advisors who focus on the fundamental financial questions facing retirees—How much is enough? Will I take a tax hit for this? What are my healthcare options?—and offer the technology to solve for these issues are well positioned to establish long-lasting client relationships.”

Note to editors

These findings and more are from The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retirement Edition, 1Q 2020 Issue.

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