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'Financial Freedom' More Appealing Than 'Retirement': Survey

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What You Need to Know

  • Survey participants associate their current physical, mental and financial health with well-being.
  • Respondents struggle to find a holistic view of their finances: 61% say they need to consult many resources.
  • Financial freedom appeals to 76% of participants, but only 56% think it is achievable.

A big majority of respondents in a poll released Monday by Franklin Templeton said retirement now looks different for everyone and there is no single path to retirement today. 

Respondents were more likely to find the concept of financial freedom appealing than the concept of retirement, but less likely to consider that goal achievable.

Most expect their financial future to be different from that of their grandparents, parents and children.

The Harris Poll conducted the study on behalf of Franklin Templeton in October among 1,007 employed U.S. adults, all of whom had some form of retirement savings. 

Changing Retirement Landscape 

Eighty percent of respondents agreed that the traditional idea of retirement is no longer accurate for most people’s expectations or experiences. At the same time, three-quarters said their future financial goals and plans look different today than they did five years ago.

Seventy-six percent of participants said achieving financial freedom is appealing, but only 56% thought it is achievable. At the same time, 69% said there is appeal in retirement, while 61% said it is likely achievable — a notably smaller gap.

Three-quarters of workers identified their most important financial milestones today as financial freedom and financial independence, also indicating that financial independence feels more empowering than retirement. Many more women in the survey than men said they find financial independence particularly appealing.

A More Holistic View 

Survey participants associate their current physical, mental and financial health with well-being. More than half said their financial well-being is not mainly about money but includes their health and lifestyle. 

But although many workers today place nearly equal importance on mental, physical and financial health, they feel least in control of their financial health. 

The poll found that respondents struggle to find a holistic view. Sixty-one percent said they need to consult many sources to get an overall picture of their finances, and 51% said integrating all of their financial information and goals into a single picture is simply too complicated. 

Seventy percent said they would like a “Fitbit-like program” for their finances so they can easily track everything in one place. 

The Future of Benefits 

Three-quarters of workers surveyed said they want their employer to provide more resources to help them with their overall financial well-being. Seventy-nine percent said their employer should provide incentives for good financial habits, and 78% said the same about good health habits. 

In fact, Franklin Templeton said, workers are more interested in long-term support over today’s monetary gains, with most preferring a boosted 401(k) match to a raise. 

Nine in 10 respondents are also looking for tools to visualize their future and optimize their well-being, with top choices being planning tools and resources. Tools designed to help them achieve financial independence and visualize long- and short-term financial goals sit side by side atop their wish list. 

Personalization is non-negotiable, the survey found. Seventy-three percent of workers said they expect their financial management apps and programs to use what they know about them to suggest the most appropriate resources. 

Sixty-eight percent of men in the survey and 54% of women said that absent personalized recommendations, they feel their financial education is not helpful.

Survey participants are seeking a holistic and consolidated view of their finances to achieve overall financial health. Their wish list includes these things:

  • Resource that combines the financial view of their entire household: 73%.
  • More ways to get a view of their overall well-being: 73%.
  • Well-being coach to help with all areas of wellness, not just financial or physical: 62%.