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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

For Wealthy Pre-Retirees, What Beats Financial Security?

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Financial security is only one consideration for wealthy investors contemplating retirement, and not the most important one. They are more concerned about being emotionally prepared to retire.

A new survey by UBS Wealth Management Americas finds that this work-leaving anxiety is largely unfounded, with most wealthy retirees happier than they have ever been.

For its report, UBS said it revisited retirement concepts first introduced in a 2013 report titled “80 is the new 60.” The firm surveyed 2,028 affluent and high-net-worth investors (with at least $1 million in investable assets) in early June, including 475 with at least $5 million. It also conducted qualitative follow-up interviews with 94 respondents.

Beyond Financial Security

Two-thirds wealthy pre-retirees surveyed said they wanted to reach a certain asset level before they left work—in contrast to their less well-off counterparts for whom age is the retirement trigger, according to UBS. Forty-five percent of respondents set their retirement savings target at between $1 million and $3 million.

The vast majority of wealthy pre-retirees were confident that they had the financial tools and knowledge necessary for a comfortable retirement, and 89% said they would have enough money saved.

Another 89% knew where their retirement income would come from. Most reported that their retirement savings were in liquid assets, primarily held in traditional retirement accounts. They also held taxable investments, banking accounts and, to a lesser extent, real estate.

Seventy-four percent of respondents believed they knew how long their savings would last.

However, the survey findings showed that emotional anxiety eclipsed financial concerns when respondents assessed their retirement readiness. Sixty-four percent said they expected to miss their work schedule more than their salary.

Among other emotional concerns, they cited these:

  • Adjustment to retired life: 59%
  • Leaving work colleagues behind: 57%
  • Experiencing an initial shock: 39%
  • Losing a sense of purpose: 36%
  • Filling the hours of free time: 34%

“Baby boomers have been known for ‘living to work,’ having been focused on their careers for so many years,” Paula Polito, client strategy officer of UBS Wealth Management Americas, said in a statement. “Even once they achieve financial security, their emotional attachment to work keeps many boomers on the job.

“Now, as many of them look toward retirement, they need to start ‘working on living’— figuring out how they will fill their time and find their purpose once they leave the workforce.”

In the event, half of wealthy respondents said it took no time at all to adjust to retired life, and a third were able to do so in less than a year.

Eighty-four percent said retirement was the happiest point in their lives. In fact, only 19% of today’s retirees in retrospect said they would have delayed their retirement.

Still healthy and on solid financial footing, 90% of wealthy investors said they were very satisfied with life in their 60s and 70s. This was a higher percentage than for investors in any other age group, including 68% in their 30s and 83% in their 40s.

One wealthy retiree in the survey compared retirement to being young again, “but with money and no curfew.”

Not surprising, however, 73% of wealthy retirees said getting sick was their chief retirement concern, and 47% worried that they would not have anyone to take care of them.

This compared with a fifth of respondents who worried about outliving their money and having to downgrade their lifestyle.

Citing an earlier report, UBS said one of wealthy investors’ top expectations of the Trump administration is to address healthcare.

Shunning Traditional Guidance

The UBS findings showed that 84% of investors were looking to grow assets in retirement rather than follow traditional asset allocation guidance to reduce equities with age. Sixty percent said they disagreed with this guideline.

Three-quarters of investors believed that equities offered the best returns regardless of age, and the majority said they had maintained or increased their equity exposure after retirement.

UBS noted that once wealthy retirees had achieved sufficient liquidity to make them feel financially secure for retirement, many focused on longevity needs, such as healthcare expenses, and building wealth for future generations.

The low interest rate environment contributed to this, it said, with 71% citing low rates as a reason to seek higher returns, even at an older age.


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