Higher Ed. Faculty In No Rush to Retire

Baby Boomer faculty at higher education institutions say they will delay retirement or not retire at all.

Results of Fidelity Investments’ “Higher Education Faculty Study,” which examined the behaviors and attitudes of Baby Boomer (ages 49 to 67) faculty members at higher education institutions, found 74% plan to delay retirement past the age of 65 or never retire at all. When asked the reasons for this delay, 81% cited professional reasons, while 69% cited economic concerns.  

Boomer faculty who plan to delay retirement due to professional reasons said they will do so because they want to stay busy and productive (89%), they love their work too much to give it up (64%), and they are unwilling to relinquish continued access to—and affiliation with—their institution (41%). Of those who say they will delay retirement for economic reasons, 55% are unsure they have enough retirement savings, 42% want to maximize Social Security payments, and 42% believe they will need continued health insurance.  

Many Boomer faculty members indicate they need help in specific areas as they consider their financial future. Six in 10 (61%) are confident they can learn about investments and finance on their own, but 70% do not have a formal investment plan in place for their retirement savings.

Additionally, seven in 10 (70%) say they have at least some experience as investors, but when asked in which areas they need financial guidance, 43% say they need help choosing specific investments, 36% want help developing a formal plan for their retirement savings strategy, and 35% want help assessing their overall financial picture, goals and needs.  

“Making the decision to retire is difficult for any Baby Boomer, but it can be even more complex for faculty who are deeply dedicated to education, and the students and institutions they serve,” said John Ragnoni, executive vice president of Tax-Exempt Retirement Services at Fidelity Investments.  “We understand that financial security is an important factor for faculty contemplating retirement, and that personal and professional considerations will also weigh heavily as they decide when they will retire.”  

The study also found many institutions have implemented retirement programs aimed specifically at providing faculty with financial, professional and personal incentives to support them in making the transition to the next phase of their lives (see “Holistic Retirement Programs Help Higher Ed. Staff Transition”).