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Retirement

Securing retirement in America

A washed out image of a cheering crowd

The Retirement Bill of Rights provides the blueprint for solving the core challenges to retirement security

In October 2023, Angela Antonelli of Georgetown’s Center for Retirement Initiatives sat on a panel in front of a group of nearly 100 policymakers, economists and retirement plan professionals and began with a statement that not long ago might have been dismissed as absurd or even heretical. Instead, many in the audience nodded in agreement.

We have a retirement saving system, not a retirement income system.
Angela Antonelli

“When ERISA  was created 50 years ago, 401(k) plans were meant to be a supplement to DB (defined benefit) plans. The unintended consequence was to make it easier for employers to abandon providing the benefit of income in retirement. This made an existing problem even worse, as employers have never been required to even offer a retirement plan to their workers. Half of the private sector doesn’t even have access to a retirement plan so they aren’t saving. And we also have people who do have access to a plan who don’t save or aren’t saving enough.”

55 million Americans don’t have access to a retirement plan at work

Plenty of data backs up Antonelli’s statements. Over 55 million American workers lack access to a retirement plan, particularly black and Hispanic Americans and those working for small businesses. Women retire with less savings than men but live an average of two years longer, setting the stage for a savings shortfall without some form of guaranteed lifetime income. “If there’s one thing that I wish working Americans knew, it’s whether or not their retirement plan offers an option for guaranteed lifetime income,” shared Barbara Delaney of HUB International . “The one downside to automatic enrollment is that many participants assume lifetime income is a given in their retirement plan when in reality it is not.”

“We face big challenges when it comes to ensuring a dignified retirement for American workers,” says Brendan McCarthy, Head of Retirement Investing at Nuveen. “Working together toward a common goal and purpose, we can make more progress than any of us could achieve as individuals. That’s the purpose of the Retirement Bill of Rights .”

What’s in the Retirement Bill of Rights?

The Retirement Bill of Rights (RBOR) lays out the fundamental challenges in the U.S. retirement system: Not enough people have access to a retirement plan. For those with access, they are:

Given the current state of the retirement industry, the RBOR also identifies a role for everyone to be part of the solution—policymakers, employers and advisors.

Nuveen’s parent company, TIAA, introduced Retirement the Bill of Rights in March 2023, shortly after the passage of the SECURE 2.0 Act in December 2022. At the time, many plan sponsors found themselves drinking from a firehose of reforms enacted by the new legislation and the original SECURE Act of 2019. Many found themselves struggling to decide how and when to make the right plan design changes. “The Retirement Bill of Rights tees up a strategic discussion. It’s an opportunity to ask plan sponsors, ‘What’s critical to helping employees achieve their goals for retirement?’” McCarthy suggested. 

“The Retirement Bill of Rights is a feeling of inalienable rights,” said Philip Chao, founder and chief investment officer, of Experiential Wealth, Inc. , an advisory firm. “It’s very empowering, but it takes a village to make it happen. It offers us the opportunity, but it also challenges us to make sure that we fulfill that promise. This is not just some logo or a throwaway line, but a commitment from the individuals involved as well as the solutions being generated.”

Retirement Bill of Rights

Everybody deserves some basic dignity in retirement. An important piece of that ability to have that dignity is to have enough resources to be able to live comfortably and to maintain your living standard. In order to do that, people need access to good retirement plans. It shouldn’t be a privilege of the few. It ought to be something that every American has access to.

What can advisors do?

The Retirement Bill of Rights lays out the fundamental challenges in the U.S. retirement system: Not enough people have access to a retirement plan. Even if they do, they are not maximizing the plan’s potential.

In many respects, the Retirement Bill of Rights sums up the mission for many advisors. Since its release less than a year ago, more and more advisors are using the Retirement Bill of Rights to open a meeting with plan sponsors and set the stage for a strategic conversation about goals, purpose and ensuring dignified retirements. “While the product is an extremely important part of the solution, we in the retirement industry need to develop a lifetime income implementation process that guides people as they work toward retirement,” Delaney said.

This taps into an advisor’s role as an educator to start to shift the language from retirement savings to retirement income. “Whether we’re talking with lawmakers, with individuals and everyone in between, all of us drive the change we need. And education will help us get there,” McCarthy said.

We are calling everyone to action to join our coalition of champions. We’re leading this effort in terms of identifying the problem that’s out there, raising awareness and starting to provide the solutions to help solve for it, but we need everyone across our industry to come together to drive this conversation.
Brendan McCarthy

[Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to receive our Retirement insights.]

In this issue
Retirement Recordkeeper Corner
Brendan McCarthy and Tina Wilson discuss the critical role recordkeeping platforms play in the adoption of lifetime income solutions.
Retirement Lifetime income: Setting up the conversation with plan sponsors
What are the best practices for discussing lifetime income with plan sponsors? Jason Chepenik, George Fraser and Renee Scherzer discuss the value of facing this pressing conversation head on.
Retirement Closing savings gaps for participants
Getting access to a retirement plan remains a fundamental issue for many Americans. Jeff Cullen, Lisa (Garcia) Drake and Jania Stout discuss the role advisors can play in bridging the gap.

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Endnotes

* Clicking this link will take you to a website independent of and unaffiliated with Nuveen. The information and services provided on this independent site are not reviewed, guaranteed, or endorsed by Nuveen or its affiliates.

Any guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA).

The views and opinions expressed are for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass. This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include, among other things, projections, forecasts, estimates of market returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the information presented herein by way of example. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible.

This material is not intended to be a recommendation or investment advice, does not constitute a solicitation to buy, sell or hold a security or an investment strategy, and is not provided in a fiduciary capacity. The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on an investor’s objectives and circumstances and in consultation with his or her financial professionals.

This information does not constitute investment research as defined under MiFID.

Please note that this information should not replace a client’s consultation with a tax professional regarding their tax situation. Nuveen is not a tax advisor. Clients should consult their professional advisors before making any tax or investment decisions.

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