Merrill Lynch Retirement Survey

In 2005, Merrill Lynch released a landmark retirement survey that forever changed the perception of how future retirees would spend their retirement.  The new Baby Boomer generation is not ready for the rocking chair upon retirement.

The retirement survey shows that 76% of the boomers plan to keep working and earning an income during retirement.

Also, this survey showed that conventional retirement calculators no longer are accurate.  The income earned from a retirement job considerably reduces the amount of retirement savings that is necessary to retire.

Here is the press release of the retirement survey from the Merrill Lynch website at 

 Merrill Lynch Retirement Survey

"The New Retirement Survey"From Merrill Lynch Reveals How Baby Boomers Will Transform Retirement


NEW YORK, February 22, 2005 — Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) todayannounced the findings of a new study that reveals how baby boomers envisiontheir retirement and the coming decades of their lives. "The NewRetirement Survey," conducted for Merrill Lynch by Harris Interactive®in collaboration with Age Wave, builds upon conventional wisdom that boomers arenot interested in pursuing a traditional retirement of leisure. The majority ofboomers relate they plan to keep working and earning in retirement, but will doso by cycling between periods of work and leisure, thus creating a new model ofretirement.

"Baby boomers fundamentally willreinvent retirement, and this has profound implications for how we at MerrillLynch need to advise this generation of clients — individuals as well asretirement plan sponsors," said James P. Gorman, president of theGlobal Private Client Group. "With boomers living longer and remainingengaged and employed beyond age 65, many of the traditional financialassumptions regarding retirement need to be reexamined. This survey provides auseful starting point."

The New Retirement Surveyoffers a complex and illuminating preview of the kind of lifestyles, workstylesand recreation activities that boomers envision for their future. With guidancefrom noted gerontologist and author Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., it offers unparalleledinsight into the hopes, fears and motivations of this influential generation, aswell as the coming impact on retirement, work, recreation, marriage, family,healthcare, housing, entitlements and the economy. Highlights include:

  • The new retirement "turning point." While 76% of boomers intend to keep working and earning in retirement, on average they expect to "retire" from their current job/career at around 64 and then launch into an entirely new job or career.

  • Taking advantage of their "longevity bonus," boomers will create a whole new life stage. Since Social Security established the "normal" retirement age at 65, life expectancy for a 65-year-old has increased by over seven years and continues to lengthen. As a result of living longer, this generation plans to be "younger" longer and work longer. Most boomers (65%) will stop working for pay and retire in the traditional sense at some point. However, that phase is more likely to begin in the late 60's, than at age 60 or 65.

  • Boomers reject a life of either full-time leisure or full-time work. When probed about their ideal work arrangement in retirement, the most common choice among boomers would be to repeatedly "cycle" between periods of work and leisure (42%), followed by part-time work (16%), start their own business (13%) and full-time work (6%). Only 17% hope to never work for pay again.

  • It's not about the money. While 37% of the boomer generation indicate that continued earnings is a very important part of the reason they intend to keep working, 67% assert that continued mental stimulation and challenge is what will motivate them to stay in the game.

  • The transformation of the "me" generation into the "we" generation. The "me" generation has grown up — now with deep concerns for the well-being of their children, their parents and their communities. Boomers are now 10 times more likely to "put others first" (43%) than "put themselves first" (4%).

  • The unpredictable cost of illness and healthcare is by far boomers' biggest fear. They are three times more worried about a major illness (48%), their ability to pay for healthcare (53%) or winding up in a nursing home (48%), than about dying (17%).

  • Boomer women are better educated, more independent, are simultaneously juggling more work and family responsibilities and are more financially engaged than any generation in history. Married boomer women are more than six times more likely to share responsibility for savings and investments compared to their mothers' generation (33% now vs. 5% then).

  • Boomer women are dreaming of retiring to Mars while boomer men hope to retire to Venus. Boomer men are looking forward to working less, relaxing more, and spending more time with their spouse. While boomer women view the dual liberations of empty nesting and retirement as providing new opportunities for career development, community involvement and continued personal growth.

  • Financial preparedness is the gateway to retirement freedom and the antidote to retirementphobia. Accumulating the resources boomers believe they need for retirement freedom (81%), rather than age (56%) or any other variable, was cited as the most decisive factor for when they choose to retire. And, recognizing the growing uncertainty of government entitlements, boomers who have a plan and feel prepared are twice as optimistic and far less fearful compared with those who do not.

  • One size doesn't fit all. When it comes to retirement dreams and preparedness, there are five distinct and different boomer segments: the "Empowered Trailblazers," the "Wealth-Builders," the "Leisure Lifers," the "Anxious Idealists" and the "Stretched and Stressed." The survey revealed how each group is doing, their plans and ambitions for later life, their level of financial preparedness and how they intend to fund their future dreams.

"The results of this visionary studyprovide an unprecedented preview into the future of this influential generation.While there are some problem areas, it appears that boomer men and women aregenerally optimistic, innovative and hopeful — and they're definitely gearingup for a new model of retirement," said Dychtwald, co-author of the surveyand president of Age Wave. "We asked boomers for their hopes, fears andthoughts about retirement and what we got was the systematic dismantling of allof our preconceptions about the future, for not only this generation, but fornearly all of society's institutions."

Approaches to Financial PreparednessMust Be Transformed
By rejecting traditional retirement and planning to work or cycle between workand leisure, boomers will have increased earning, savings and investmentcompounding years. And they will not have to tap retirement savings as theirprimary source of income until much later than is usually promoted.

"Boomers pioneering this 'newretirement' can readily attain their financial goals. It starts with savings,but it requires a new planning model that considers all of the elements of theirretirement dream, as well as their total financial picture," said MichaelFalcon, chief operating officer of the Merrill Lynch Retirement Group."This new approach to retirement offers individual investors and retirementplan participants significant benefits as they can take advantage of additionalyears of compounding investment returns and fewer years of distribution; therebymaking retirement savings goals more attainable."

New Planning Illustrator ShowsYesterday's Calculators Are Outdated
Merrill Lynch also unveiled today the new Retirement Illustrator, located at New Retirement Illustrator is an online calculator that illustrateshow a new phase that balances work and leisure, changes all financial planningelements. It reflects a departure from a time when an advisor could insert aclient's simple financial profile into a calculator to determine assets at aparticular point in the future when they could be drawn down upon. That modelfails to capture the complexity of boomers' lives particularly that they maywant and be able to earn partial incomes after their retirement "turningpoint."

Another component of the, called "Explore," looks at retirement dreams from a lifestyleperspective, asking questions like: "What drives you in terms of workgoals? Do you seek additional education?" There is also a "Learn"component that helps boomers map out the advice and planning they need, frominvestments and financing to personal banking and estate planning.

Survey Methodology
Harris Interactive® fielded the online and telephone survey forMerrill Lynch and Ken Dychtwald, between February 5 and
March 1, 2004, among a nationwide cross section of 2,348 U.S. adults ages 40 to 58 of whom 1,061 were menand 1,287 were women. Data were weighted to reflect the total U.S. adult population ages 40 to 58 for age, sex,race, region, education and household income. For the telephone survey, datawere weighted for the number of voice/telephone lines in the household. For theonline survey, propensity score weighting was done to adjust for respondents'propensity to be online.

In theory, with samples of this size, onecould say with 95% certainty that the results for the overall sample have asampling error of plus or minus two percentage points. Sampling errors for theresults of the following subsamples: men (1,061), women (1,287) and marriedwomen (763) are higher and vary. The online sample is not a probability sample.

More About The New Retirement Survey
Merrill Lynch, in an effort to better understand boomers, their aspirations, thefinancial implications of those aspirations, and to better serve this marketsegment undertook a major research effort with the help of Ken Dychtwald andHarris Interactive®. The results, The New Retirement Surveyat Merrill Lynch, are an important step in Merrill Lynch's ongoing, long-termcommitment to serve the complete financial needs of this generation. For moreinformation on this survey, please visit

Merrill Lynch is one of the world's leadingfinancial management and advisory companies, with offices in 36 countries andtotal client assets of approximately $1.6 trillion. As an investment bank, it isa leading global underwriter of debt and equity securities and strategic advisorto corporations, governments, institutions and individuals worldwide. ThroughMerrill Lynch Investment Managers, the company is one of the world's largestmanagers of financial assets. Firmwide, assets under management total $501billion. For more information on Merrill Lynch, please visit

Age Wave ( created in 1986 to guide leading companies and government groups worldwidein product and service development geared to aging boomer and mature populationsegments. The company's far reaching explorations and innovative solutions havefertilized and catalyzed a broad spectrum of industry sectors from vitamins andcookies to automotive design and retail merchandising to mutual funds and healthinsurance. Age Wave's services include groundbreaking primary and secondaryresearch, cutting-edge brainstorming, business development guidance and a widerange of highly acclaimed presentations, communications and education programs.

Harris Interactive Inc. (,the 15th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world, is aRochester, New York-based global research company that blends premier strategicconsulting with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis andapplication. Known for The Harris Poll® and for pioneeringInternet-based research methods, Harris Interactive conducts proprietary andpublic research to help its clients achieve clear, material and enduringresults. Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases andtechnology to advance market leadership through U.S. offices and wholly ownedsubsidiaries: London-based HI Europe (,Paris-based Novatris (,Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan, through newly acquired WirthlinWorldwide (,a Reston, Virginia-based research and consultancy firm ranked 25th largest inthe world, and through an independent global network of affiliate marketresearch companies. 

From this retirement survey, Merrill Lynch created a retirement illustrator which can be accessed at the following link.  When the page loads, click the link "Retirement Illustrator" on the right side of the page under "Tools".

This illustrator shows a graphic representation of the impact of retirement job income on retirement finances.

Merrill Lynch leads the way in declaring the old retirement calculators invalid, and I applaud them for their leadership.

In 2006, Merrill Lynch followed this retirement survey with a study which is quoted in many retirement websites.

You can read The Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study at

Here is an analysis of the data from the Merrill Lynch study

Use the retirement calculator on Retirement Jobs Online for an accurate projection of retirement finances after retirement since it factors in the income from a retirement job. 

Merrill Lynch Retirement Survey

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