Here’s what you said about retirement education.
Thank you for responding to my question in Post #58.
You’ll recall that I phrased it this way:
If you’ve already graduated from full-time work, would you have appreciated some retirement education while you were still working?
If you’re still working, would you appreciate some retirement education before you retire?
I’m not looking at second-level issues like who would design and deliver the education and how, or anything like that, or what it would cost: assume it’s free, though of course there’s a cost to you, in that you’d have to put time and effort into it.
Click on firstname.lastname@example.org and say A, B, C or D, where:
A means “I’ve graduated, and my answer is Yes”
B means “I’ve graduated, and my answer is No”
C means “I’m still working, and my answer is Yes”
D means “I’m still working, and my answer is No”
I also said that you should feel free to add any further comments that occur to you, with the promise that I wouldn’t quote your name if I cite your comment. I got so many thoughtful comments that I’m going to cite them – without names attached, of course.
I got all of A, B, C and D responses, I’m glad to say, as well as a couple of responses with no letter of the alphabet identified.
There were few responses from those who have already graduated, but both As and Bs added comments.
These came from As, that is, those who have graduated from full-time work and would have appreciated some retirement education.
- As an actuary working in pensions and investment (and including a spell in education!) I was privileged to gain the retirement education I needed in Life 1, as Don calls it. Indeed, Don was a valued colleague at an investment firm for many years, so some of my education was directly due to him. I find it hard to imagine the challenges most people face, not blessed with receiving such a retirement education before Life 2 begins, and I strongly endorse Don’s advocacy for it.
- Even though I worked as an investment advisor I believe there is a scant amount of basic retirement planning advice. This leads some to work longer than they need to and others to retire too early. Both cases lead to a significant amount of angst for both the retiree and partner. Both parties need to be included in basic retirement planning in order to comfortably enjoy life after full time employment! I am happy to be a guinea pig for any thoughts or ideas!
The next set came from Bs, that is, those who have graduated and do not feel they would have benefited from some retirement education. I have the impression that the responses are personal, but not meant to indicate that such education is itself of no value.
- My personal answer is B given my background and career in finance. However, in functioning as informal/unpaid retirement advisor for my extended family, I can tell you that they are all Cs and need this sort of education.
- I’m from the industry and I have often said that if someone would pay my costs I would travel the country and provide free education on the importance of preparing for retirement and how to do it. This open offer is the result of years of exposure to people who don’t understand the importance of preparing for retirement. I believe that most Canadians can retire in dignity, but many won’t – even though it is possible.
Cs amounted to half of all responses; that is, from readers still working and feeling that they would appreciate some retirement education. I won’t cite numbers, because the aggregate number is so small that I think of it as a set of random responses rather than having any significance.
Some C responses came with multiple exclamation marks added!!! (Yes, like that.)
Here are the comments attached to Cs.
- For me, it’s less about the money side of things, and more about the transition from a structured work life to a relatively unstructured retirement life – or a gradual transition. How do you find and maintain friendships; how do you find meaning in Life 2?
- My answer is C and the editorial comment is how do we get folks to engage in this at a much younger age. I appreciate that most folks don’t want to think about retirement until they’re on the edge, but even the more financially savvy start to plan in their late 40s I think. I know that they can still influence outcomes at that point, but it would be so much better if we could get them interested in their 20s and 30s!
- I just got certified as a Retirement Coach. The whole idea is to prepare people beyond the money issues. I believe that the money issues are really important and must be integrated with everything else – your health, purpose and meaning, social connections, …
Now the comment from a D response, that is, someone still working and having no desire to get some retirement education.
- The problem as I see it Don is that there are lots of experts and there’s lots of good information already available. But as you probably know – there’s no consensus or at least not a lot.
Finally, two sets of comments from readers who didn’t select a specific letter response.
- Am not sure if I’ve graduated or not—sort of on my way! I think I didn’t need education on how to make the transition in lifestyle, but would have welcomed better financial planning tools than the usual ones. I found most of the existing tools pretty primitive, so made my own. Would have been happy with someone else doing it.
- I would have thought that western-style governments would appear to be the stumbling block. Whilst I understand the honourable intention of your proposal, the reality is that formal education is generally aimed at the youth, the future taxpayers. Getting government to design formal education for the retirees (present and future) who in this country (Australia) create a financial burden for the government – don’t pay tax and receive age pension payments and benefits – is problematic. Unless governments could find a way of designing formal education to highlight the drawbacks of age pension dependency because most people are trying to score benefits off the government rather than avoid them. In terms of non-financial or social aspects of retirement, we could as a society benefit from an understanding of the reality of post-working life, especially men. However, my fear is that people in a modern democratic world would scoff at being told how to live their lives.
As I said at the start, I think these are very thoughtful remarks, reflecting a wide variety of perspectives. Anyone forming views on retirement education should be aware of them, and that’s why I’m publishing them.
As for me, I’m about to attend the DC West Conference (the annual US west coast conference for defined contribution plans) organized by Pensions & Investments. There are sessions there that are relevant to this subject. And I’ll be the wind-up keynote speaker and will make the case in favor of education for Life Two. I’ll write up what I say in the next post, and will also let you know what the response is.
Thanks again for your interest!
I have written about retirement planning before and some of that material also relates to topics or issues that are being discussed here. Where relevant I draw on material from three sources: The Retirement Plan Solution (co-authored with Bob Collie and Matt Smith, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009), my foreword to Someday Rich (by Timothy Noonan and Matt Smith, also published by Wiley, 2012), and my occasional column The Art of Investment in the FT Money supplement of The Financial Times, published in the UK. I am grateful to the other authors and to The Financial Times for permission to use the material here.