Retirement Readiness Improves from Generation to Generation

Are people becoming more savvy about ensuring their retirement won’t be like something out of the “Hunger Games?”


Two years ago, Fidelity Investments ( created a unique way of measuring not only how close working Americans are to meeting their post-retirement expenses, but also how different generations — Baby Boomers, Gen Exers, and Gen Yers — compare to one another. The one stand-out back then was Boomers.

Now that same measure, the Retirement Preparedness Measure (RPM), is signaling more widespread improvement — due in large part to what John Sweeney, Fidelity’s executive vice president of retirement and investment strategies, ascribes to “across-the-board savings, and investments being allocated in a more age-appropriate way.”

Specifically, the number of people likely to afford at least their essential expenses in retirement jumped seven percentage points since 2013, from 30 to 45 percent, according to the firm’s biennial “Retirement Savings Assessment” study.

Conversely, of course, that means that 55 percent are estimated to be “at risk of being unprepared to completely cover essentials like housing, food and health care.”

What’s especially illuminating about the RPM is the color-coded breakdown —with dark green being the best — showing how retiree households are currently prepared to withstand a down market compared to 2013:

• Dark Green. 27 percent are on track to cover more than 95 percent of their total estimated expenses (up 4 percent).

• Green. 18 percent are headed toward only covering essentials with no money for travel or entertainment (up 3 percent).

• Yellow. 23 percent are off track and would likely require “modest” lifestyle adjustments (up 4 percent).

• Red. 32 percent “need attention” immediately, though that’s down 43 percent.

So which generation is faring best?

Well, boomers saved the most — stashing away 9.7 percent of their salaries (up from 8.1 percent, which is still below Fidelity’s recommended rate of at least 15 percent). However, millennials showed the most improvement by boosting their savings from 5.8 percent to 7.5 percent.

For those curious how they’re doing, Fidelity now allows anyone to access their personal retirement score online. And if you’re “seeing red,” — or just eager for a more comfortable retirement — certain “accelerators” can help.

Saving that aforementioned 15 percent of your income, for example, brings the study’s median RPM score of 76 — smack in the yellow zone — up to the green zone’s 84. Replacing portfolios that are either too conservative or too aggressive with more age appropriate asset mixes can help improve that score, too.

“The score reaches 100 if you combine delaying retirement with the other two accelerators,” says Sweeney.