Americans Idealize Do-It-Yourself Retirement

But that doesn’t mean they feel confident planning their own retirement


Most Americans think that financing retirement is their own responsibility. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that workers feel confident about planning for their own retirement needs.

Some 79 percent of American workers think that an individual should save and plan for their own retirement, according to a recent Towers Watson survey of 20,000 employees in 22 major cities. About 16 percent of workers report that their employer should be primarily responsible for ensuring that worker retirement income needs are met and just 6 percent of employees think the government should be the primary provider of retirement income. (In contrast, 53 percent of American workers feel health care is largely an individual’s responsibility, as opposed to their employer’s (39 percent) or the government's (9 percent) responsibility.)

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However, many workers don’t feel comfortable about their ability to save and invest for their own retirement needs. Only about half (48 percent) of Americans feel confident about managing their own retirement income needs and just 37 think that their health care needs in retirement are likely to be met. “Employees get that they’re primarily responsible for their financial security in retirement, but they don’t feel they have the understanding, education, or tools to make the right decisions,” says Laura Sejen, a leader of talent and rewards at Towers Watson. “And the stock market’s impact on 401(k) balances certainly put a fine point on the validity of their concerns.” Only about a third (38 percent) of workers in the U.S. say they are confident they will have sufficient financial security throughout retirement.

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American workers are increasingly coping by resolving to delay retirement. While the average worker around the world anticipates retiring at age 62, that number rises to 67 in the U.S., Towers Watson found. And 30 percent of the survey respondents in the U.S. plan to work until age 70 or later.

Tell us, is your retirement preparedness your employer’s responsibility?