In just a few weeks we’ll be making preparations to launch the 2015 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS)[i]. It is, by far, the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation. Indeed, this will be its 25th year. Think for a moment about where you were a quarter century ago, what (or if) you thought about retirement, what preparations you had made… then consider for a moment what you have done in the years since. Are you where you thought you would be? Are you more – or less – confident about your prospects for a financially secure retirement? Have you planned toward a specific retirement date or age? Has that changed over the years – how, and why?
Through the prism of that near-quarter-century window, the RCS provides a unique perspective to view in the here and now, and to look back over time on how American workers – and retirees – have viewed their preparations, readiness, and confidence about retirement. It has also provided those who are working to help improve and/or ensure those prospects insights into those collective preparations, or lack thereof. Moreover, the RCS has offered the ability to gauge potential responses to specific regulatory, administrative and legislative alternatives, both real and envisioned – a critical real-world filter to balance the theoretical world in which academics often imagine we live and respond, or as they often assume, won’t respond[ii].
Retirement confidence is, of course, a state of mind at a point in time, unique to individual situations, and as past waves of the RCS have shown, it’s not always based on a realistic assessment of where you are or what lies ahead. That said, the RCS offers more than a sentiment snapshot, and those who look not only to feel better about retirement but to have a basis for that feeling need look back no further than the pages of that report.
The RCS has outlined the impact that real-world actions can have on confidence: having saved for retirement, having sought professional investment advice, having made a determination as to how much is needed for retirement, and – as last year’s RCS findings emphasized — having some kind of retirement savings account. Little wonder that those who have undertaken those steps are more confident of the outcomes.
It’s one thing to anticipate that eventual cessation of paid employment, and something else altogether to make the preparations – to choose to save – and to be confident that you’ll be able to look back with satisfaction one day knowing that you have the financial resources to enjoy it.
- Nevin E. Adams, JD
[i] More information about the Retirement Confidence Survey is available online here.