Income Outcomes:
Retirement Planning Confidence Study Results

Insights. Information. Intel. Explore the outcomes of our recent retirement income planning survey.

Save. Save. Save.

That’s the mantra when preparing for retirement to start and paychecks to end. But upon retirement, mindsets must shift from accumulating to spending. And in some cases, assets must last a very … long … time. We conducted a proprietary survey to see how retirees and pre-retirees feel about this financial phase. Both groups shared similar concerns, but greater retirement confidence was expressed by those who:

Seek guidance from financial professionals

Create formal retirement income plans

Add guaranteed lifetime income sources

When Concerns & Confidence Collide

When Concerns & Confidence Collide

Bar chart that shows the top retirement concerns among retirees and pre-retirees. Top concerns include running out of money, cost of healthcare, inflation and cuts to Social Security.

Top Concerns Similar Among Retirees & Pre-Retirees

Running out of money ranks high on the list of concerns for both retirees and pre-retirees. And most lack confidence in managing that money. Social Security cuts also rank as a high concern. So does real and recent inflation. When regular job pay ends, the feeling of uncertainty begins. Guaranteed income is seen as key to meeting expenses.
Almost half of respondents (age 50-75) are slightly or not at all confident they can manage their own investments throughout retirement. Female retirees and respondents with net worth at or below $250k are even less confident.

Lack of Confidence in Managing Investments

Almost half of respondents are slightly or not at all confident in managing investments through retirement. Females and those with $250k or less net worth are least confident.

Insight 1: Professional Guidance

Insight 1: Professional Guidance

Retired couple meeting with a financial professional

Retirees & Pre-Retirees Want Professional Financial Advice

People believe in the power of professionals. More than half say they’re a top information source.

Top 3 Sources of Financial Information

  1. Financial Websites
  2. Financial Professionals
  3. Friends & Family

Financial professionals aren’t the only source. But they’re one with advantages. They can be more interactive than websites and more knowledgeable than family or friends.

5 Reasons People Seek Out a Financial Professional (PDF)
Professional Retirement Guidance (VIDEO)

The Value of Guidance

The nearly half of respondents expressing uncertainty in managing investments signals a need for guidance. Yet 6 in 10 do not work with a financial professional. When managing assets that can be needed to last 25+ years in retirement, a “DIY” approach may be risky. Recognizing the value of guidance, nearly a third of pre-retirees say they are actively seeking a financial professional’s help.

1 in 3 pre-retirees are looking for a financial professional

Those working with financial professionals expect unbiased, transparent and knowledgeable recommendations on the companies behind the financial products they offer. Many understand that the financial strength of a company whose products may be relied upon for decades is key to creating confidence that money will be there when needed.

Couple discussing annuities with financial professional

Additional Considerations for Annuities

We asked annuity non-owners what annuity factors are most important when considering adding an annuity to their financial plan. Here’s what they said matters about the company.

Key Company Factors

  1. Financial Strength
  2. Company Reputation
  3. Recommendation by Financial Professional

Western & Southern's Financial Strength

Insight 2: Retirement Income Planning

Insight 2: Retirement Income Planning

Anatomy of an Income Plan

What is a retirement income plan? It’s not the same as a retirement savings plan. It’s a way to structure sources and risks to better ensure income in retirement. A retirement income plan has three steps:

1. Establish Goals

Determine when and how much to pull from a plan to ensure payouts throughout retirement – however long it is.

Find Your Income Gap Worksheet (PDF)
Formal Retirement Plans (VIDEO)

2. Understand Risks

Balance sources against risks, such as longevity, volatility, inflation, taxes, withdrawal rates and other asset-depleting factors. Since risks can be unknown and fluctuate, adjustment and contingency options are part of a plan.

3. Identify Sources

Review guaranteed sources such as pensions, annuities and Social Security that help cover retirement needs. Other sources such as part-time pay, IRAs and savings can help fill the gap left over.

Understanding Income Planning

A retirement income, or spending, plan is different — but just as important — as a retirement saving plan. Yet 44% don’t know what it entails. Pre-retirees and annuity non-owners know less. Pre-retirees are twice as concerned as retirees about income planning, yet a third have no plan. They need help with what goes into it, customizing it and putting it on paper, ideally with financial professional help.

Couple researching annuity options on the computer at home with their dog

When In Doubt, Write It Out

As many as 7 in 10 respondents have no formal written retirement plan. Half of those with one are very or extremely confident income will last through retirement. The simple act of documentation increases confidence considerably.

Set It, But Don't Forget It

Retirement can last decades. Over time, needs change, costs rise and surprises happen. That’s why reviewing and adjusting is important. Yet nearly 30% of retirees never adjust their plan.

Keep It Up To Date

Reviewing a plan is recommended at least annually. Half of respondents review quarterly or monthly. Plan assistance, documentation and adjustment can help pre-retirees prepare for and help retirees keep pace in the income stage.

Insight 3: Guaranteed Lifetime Income

Insight 3: Guaranteed Lifetime Income

Grandmother sitting in wheelchair and playing with grandson

Solving the Income Challenge

Only three sources create guaranteed lifetime income:

  1. Pensions
  2. Social Security
  3. Annuities

The first two may be well known. But pensions are less common and Social Security has funding challenges. Annuities may be less known but provide predictable and guaranteed income for life.

Retirement Income Sources (VIDEO)
What's an Annuity? (VIDEO)

Need & Solution Disconnect

A majority, 83% of those surveyed believe a guaranteed monthly income source is very or extremely important. Yet only 66% agree that annuities can provide exactly that.

83% believe having a guaranteed monthly income source is important, yet only 66% know annuities provide guaranteed income.

The Need for Annuity Knowledge

Planning – with a professional’s help – helps people prosper in retirement. But plans need products to provide lifelong guaranteed income. An annuity does that. But do people understand what it is and how it can help? Not really.

46% of non-owners are not knowledgeable about annuities
Chart comparing owner and non-owner perceptions of annuities. Actual annuity owners have a good grasp on the wide-ranging benefits and advantages the strategy can bring to their retirement. Owners consistently rated the top beneficial aspects of annuities higher than non-owners. But non-owners aren’t as aware of benefits and may even have some misconceptions.

Annuity Perceptions & Reality

Annuity perceptions vary. Annuity owners are aware of the product benefits and rank them highly. Non-owners aren’t as aware and may have misconceptions. Owners believe annuities to be more guaranteed, more stable and more important than non-owners. As well as less expensive and less rigid.

Woman discussing retirement income planning with financial professional

Neutral Sentiment Equals Opportunity

As for overall impression of annuities, 65% of non-owners report neutral sentiment. Women are more open to them than men. This indicates an immense opportunity to convert neutral sentiment to informed interest. Financial professionals hold the key to helping clients understand annuity features and benefits and how they can help meet specific income needs.

Key Takeaways

Retirees & Pre-Retirees

Retirees and pre-retirees can build retirement income confidence by:

  • Working with a financial professional
  • Understanding income planning and putting plans on paper
  • Reviewing sources of guaranteed lifetime income

Explore Western & Southern's approach to planning for retirement.

Financial Professionals

Financial professionals can help clients with retirement income confidence by:

  • Helping explain the importance of guaranteed income in retirement
  • Walking clients through the income planning process
  • Explaining the benefits of annuities and showing where they may fit in a plan
  • Assisting with plan reviews and facilitating adjustments to maintain goals

Learn about Western & Southern's family of companies.

Income Outcomes Retirement Planning Confidence Study cover page

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Survey Methodology

Respondents = 988 | ages = 50-75
495 females | 492 males
492 pre-retirees | 496 retirees
282 annuity owners | 706 non-owners
593 net worth < $250k | 395 net worth of > $250k (including primary residence)
Online survey conducted by LIMRA, May 1-22, 2023; Margin of error ±3.118%.

About Western & Southern

Founded in Cincinnati in 1888 as The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc., a Fortune 500 company, is the parent company of a group of diversified financial services businesses. Its assets owned ($66 billion) and managed ($35 billion) totaled $101 billion as of June 30, 2022. Western & Southern is one of the strongest life insurance groups in the world. Its seven life insurance subsidiaries (The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Columbus Life Insurance Company, Gerber Life Insurance Company, Integrity Life Insurance Company, The Lafayette Life Insurance Company, and National Integrity Life Insurance Company) maintain very strong financial ratings. Other member companies include Eagle Realty Group, LLC; Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc.;1 IFS Financial Services, Inc.; Touchstone Advisors, Inc.;1 Touchstone Securities, Inc.;2 W&S Brokerage Services, Inc.;1,2 and W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc.

1 A registered investment adviser.
2 A registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.
Review our current financial ratings.

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