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The Happy Retiree Probably Has An Advisor

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Finally! Some good news about retirement! This comes courtesy of a new MassMutual study that probes how retirement feels to those who’ve done it, perhaps after a period of worrying about how it would work out.

The study found what I have learned from talking with retired people around my town. They like it. Some of them like it a lot. Most say they were anxious about it but, once they crossed the divide, they say they’re basking in their new-found freedom.

In MassMutual’s words, “retirees overwhelmingly report that they are enjoying themselves and discovering that pre-retirement fears of boredom, financial insecurity and lacking purpose are largely unfounded.”

To wit: 72 percent told researchers (Mathew Greenwald & Associates) that they feel “extremely or quite happy.” In addition, 67 percent said they’re “extremely or quite relaxed,” and 66 percent reported being “financially secure.”  Few characterized themselves as stressed, frustrated, lonely or distressed.

This rousing celebration of retirement flies in the face of the many articles and studies we’ve all seen about people fearing retirement for oh-so-many reasons — lack of money, lack of a plan, worries about sudden jolts, anticipated loneliness and/or boredom, to name a few. I’ve written some of those articles myself.

Could it be that the people in the MassMutual survey group were so well off that they were insulated from such problems?

Not likely. The group included 1,817 retirees and pre-retirees who were ages 40 and up, had at least $50,000 in savings and investments, and shared in the household financial decision-making. They were either one to 15 years into retirement or one to 15 years away from retirement.

Most polls I’ve seen on such individuals do point out that, once retired, many manage to adjust and find relative satisfaction. But we don’t hear much about them being “extremely or quite happy.”

So again, what is to explain the MassMutual finding? The researchers found that the highest levels of satisfaction occurred among those who took concrete steps to put both their emotional and financial lives in order. This happened at least five years or more before retirement. The preparation included focusing more on their relationships as well as on financial matters.

Of particular interest to InsuranceNewsNet readers is a related finding, that six in 10 (58 percent) of retirees who were most satisfied with their situation worked with a financial advisor before retirement.

These findings suggest that advisors are doing their jobs.

The previous industry surveys — about people fearing retirement — are probably spot-on. MassMutual also detected such fears. For instance, the researchers found that some pre-retirees worry about financial uncertainty (44 percent), not knowing what to do without their jobs (31 percent), and boredom (26 percent).

But MassMutual’s contribution to the discussion is that those fears seem to dissipate as retirement day draws near, especially — and here’s the significant part — when an advisor has been in the picture. Presumably those advisors have been helping pre-retiree clients address retirement concerns before the big day arrives.

Not incidentally, 46 percent of those within one year of retirement reported having very few or no concerns. As for those who have already retired, they reported positives such as enjoying themselves (82 percent), more free time (80 percent), and having new experiences (69 percent). What’s not to like about that?

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Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Connect with Linda →

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