Gen X, Millennials May Have Misguided Retirement Expectations

More than one-third of Gen Xers and Millennials have no retirement savings, and although many expect to rely on Social Security for a major portion of retirement income, they have no intention of maximizing their benefits, a survey finds.

A focus on Baby Boomers and Millennials may have left Gen Xers in the dust, resulting in stunted retirement preparedness, according to a survey from Personal Capital.

Among pre-retirees, more than one-third of Gen Xers (34%) and Millennials (39%) have no retirement savings despite the fact that most members of both generations (56% and 57%, respectively) expect they will need over $1 million in retirement. Gen Xers are less likely than Millennials to max out their employer sponsored plans, though their timeline to accrue retirement savings is shorter (18% vs 22%).

Only 24% of Gen Xers and Millennials believe that a skilled financial adviser is key to a comfortable retirement, while 30% of Boomers consider it a crucial part of their plan.

“Despite the hurdles they may have to overcome to reach their retirement goals with a shortened runway, it’s not too late for Gen Xers to get serious about preparedness. Contextualizing savings—or lack thereof—by talking to an adviser or using online resources is a great first step. Americans need a retirement wake-up call, and these findings should serve as the alarm,” says Michelle Brownstein, vice president of private client services at Personal Capital.

Also somewhat alarming is how one-quarter of pre-retirees surveyed expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income, including 15% of Millennials and 29% of Gen Xers. Social Security follows closely behind employer sponsored plans (27%) as a top expected revenue stream in retirement.

In addition, more than half (51%) of pre-retirees surveyed by Personal Capital report that they plan to retire at 65 or younger, at least a year shy of maximizing the full Social Security benefit for anyone born after 1943. Millennials plan to retire by age 65 at a higher rate than their peers (62%). Despite expecting early retirement, 32% of Baby Boomers, 34% of Gen Xers and 39% of Millennials say they have no money at all saved for retirement, making reliance on the questionable safety net of Social Security all the more worrisome.

According to survey findings relating to genders, responses show that more women than men understand that sticking to a comprehensive financial plan (62% vs. 47%, respectively) and leveraging a skilled financial adviser (28% and 24%, respectively) are critical to securing a comfortable retirement. However, 40% of women say they do not have any money saved for retirement, compared to 33% of men.

Twenty-seven percent of employed women report they are not offered an employer sponsored retirement plan, in comparison to 19% of working men. Among those who do have access to an employer sponsored retirement plan, female respondents were less likely to contribute to their plans than their male counterparts (58% vs. 67%) or max out their employer sponsored retirement plan (16% vs. 26%).

The survey was conducted online within the United States by ORC International’s Online CARAVAN on behalf of Personal Capital from March 1 through 7, 2018, among 2,008 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Of the 2,008 total respondents, 1,630 qualified as pre-retirees.