Workers Globally Confront Lack of Retirement Preparedness

Many full-time workers in developing and mature economies, not just the U.S., have taken few or no steps to plan for retirement.

According to two recent MetLife surveys, nearly half of U.S. employees (46%) have not taken any steps to determine income need in retirement; however, the studies found that eight out of 10 Mexican (81%) and Indian (80%) employees, more than half of Australian employees (58%), and more than one-quarter of U.K. employees (31%) have done no retirement planning independent of any mandatory government plans. William J. Toppeta, president of MetLife International, said in a press release that the lack of retirement readiness is especially worrisome since life expectancies continue to rise around the globe.

Many employees surveyed recognize the importance of workplace retirement benefits and expressed interest in receiving both financial and retirement planning products through their employers, the release said. In the U.S., nearly half of employees surveyed (49%) are interested in financial planning assistance for retirement issues, up from 38% the previous year.

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Nearly half of Indian employees (48%) whose employers do not offer retirement benefits indicated they would be interested in purchasing retirement planning products through their employer, even if they had to pay 100% of the cost. About two in every three Mexican employees (66%) are interested in receiving advice from a financial adviser regarding their retirement savings.

More than half (54%) of Australian employers are receptive to offering financial planning services, including personalized advice, to employees, and nearly one-third of employees are interested in having employers provide this type of service. In the U.K., 61% of employees already consult with financial professionals, and 29% of employees are interested in having their employers offer this service.

Retirement Readiness in the U.K.

The studies indicate that U.K. workers may be the most prepared for retirement. According to the press release, 71% of U.K. workers surveyed say they have taken steps to determine their households’ retirement needs, and 69% have actually started to plan.

In addition, of those U.K. workers who have planned, more than half (59%) say they have either reached or are on track to reach their retirement savings goals. About one-third (34%) of U.K. employees indicated they are “concerned” about outliving retirement money, compared to 55% of U.S. workers.

Retirement Readiness in India and Mexico

The divide between employee concerns about retirement readiness and employee actions to prepare for a successful retirement is particularly pointed in Mexico and India, MetLife said.

Nearly three out of four Mexican employees (74%) say they are “concerned” that they will have to work full- or part-time to live comfortably in retirement years, and almost seven out of ten (67%) say they are “concerned” about outliving their retirement money. However, only 21% of Mexican workers say they have taken any steps to determine their households’ retirement needs, and even fewer (19%) say they have begun any retirement planning.

In spite of this, most Mexican workers expect to retire early. The survey revealed that most expect to stop working by age 58, and one out of four plan to retire between the ages of 30 and 50.

In India, while almost three out of four employees (71%) say they are “concerned’ about outliving retirement money, only one out of every three (35%) say they have taken steps to determine retirement needs, and only 20% say they have done actual planning for retirement. Of those Indian workers who have planned for retirement, nearly six out of ten (58%) say they have either achieved or are on track to achieving their retirement goals.

The fact that one-third (33%) of Indian employees say they never expect to retire may account for why 80% say they have not done any retirement planning.

Retirement Readiness in Australia

The MetLife research found many Australians are optimistic despite their apparent lack of independent retirement preparation, according to the press release. Just under half (49%) of Australian employees say they are “extremely concerned’ about outliving retirement money, although 58% admit they have done no planning for retirement outside of the country’s government-sponsored benefits and retirement program – the Superannuation Fund.

MetLife pointed out the median Superannuation Fund balance among those Australians closest to retirement (ages 51 and older) is a meager $57,800 [AUS].

While most Australian workers report they plan to retire at around age 60, 15% say they do not have any retirement savings goals.

The MetLife Study of International Employee Benefits Trends (iEBTS) provides insight into the financial needs, habits and perceptions of employees and employers in India, Mexico, Australia and the U.K. The 6th annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends (EBTS) provides a comprehensive picture of the U.S. benefits landscape by surveying employers and employees on pressing issues facing the benefits industry today.

For copies of the studies, visit