EBRI Issue Brief

Retiree Reflections

Jun 16, 2022 21  pages


The Retiree Reflections Survey was fielded in Spring 2022. The sample consisted of 1,109 American retirees between the ages of 55 and 80 with at least $50,000 in financial assets. The survey sought to understand use of a financial plan in retirement, financial advisor use and assistance, priorities in retirement, spending concerns in retirement, financial worries preretirement and postretirement, and reflections upon past financial decisions.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Current retirees wish they’d saved more and planned earlier for retirement. In an open-ended format, retirees were asked to detail what pieces of financial advice they would give their younger self. The majority (70 percent) would advise changing savings habits by saving or investing more or earlier.
  • Retirees seem to fare better when they have an advisor. Specifically, retirees with a plan and/or advisor were less likely to have financial regret, when measured as the desire to change past financial habits in order to improve their current financial situation.
  • Approximately 9 in 10 retirees who used a financial advice professional to create a financial plan were satisfied with their financial professional and felt the value they received from using an advisor outweighed the cost. [Note: High satisfaction rates may in part be due to sample selection as well as advisory relationship survivorship.]
  • Relative to the transition to retirement, retirees who worked with an advisor on their financial plan reported that the primary benefits were asset-allocation-related, including assistance in identifying their risk tolerance and help understanding how to turn their retirement savings into an income stream.
  • Few retirees (25 percent) reported that their former employer offered financial planning assistance, potentially reflecting a timing difference (the benefits were offered after their employment tenure) or an awareness gap, revealing a need for improved communication.
  • Many retirees don’t have a formal financial plan for retirement. Only 4 in 10 (42 percent) retirees surveyed had both identified financial goals in retirement and developed a written financial plan. Retirees report various reasons for not identifying financial goals in retirement, including lack of knowledge, admitted procrastination, and unexpected events that were competing priorities.
  • While not saving enough for retirement, unexpected medical expenses, and preventative health expenses were the top financial concerns preretirement, inflation is the most frequently cited financial concern during retirement, identified by more than half (54 percent) of current retirees. In addition, approximately 1 in 3 retirees remain concerned about health- or medical-related expenses, running out of money, and market volatility.

EBRI was able to fund the development of this research thanks to generous support from Edelman Financial Engines. Edelman Financial Engines, LLC is not affiliated with EBRI.