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NEW YORK – Most employers are not on track when it comes to preparing for employees who are working in retirement or have taken steps for a new retirement career, a new study reveals. The Merrill Lynch New Retirement study released May 18, surveyed 5,111 adults and more than 1,000 U.S. companies. One key finding showed that 76% of all baby boomers had no intention of seeking a “traditional” retirement. Seventy-one percent said they planned to continue to work in some capacity. Most preferred having the option of “cycling” or intermingling work with leisure. The study indicated that while companies recognize the shift toward the desire to work in retirement, they are more likely to assume that employees want to work a regular part-time schedule than to cycle between periods of work and leisure. They also have not responded to individuals’ overwhelming desire to pursue a completely new line of work in their “new retirement.” “Not only is the new model of retirement here, but it transcends many different age groups,” said Michael Falcon, head of the Retirement Group at Merrill Lynch. “Multiple generations report cycling in and out of work and pursuing a new career in later life as the retirement ideal. This important study shows us that companies need to be aware of this new concept of retirement in order to prepare for the new work force realities.” Almost half of all adults who do plan to work during retirement, do not plan to ever stop working completely, the study found. Among those who expect to work in retirement and eventually stop, the average tenure of their “retirement career” is over nine years and the average age at which they stop working completely is over 70. The study also found that among all of the individuals surveyed, the most frequently cited reason for working during retirement was to stay mentally and physically active. As life expectancy increases, both current and future generations of retirees plan to use their longevity bonus to create a freedom-filled and fulfilling “new retirement.” Concerns about health insurance and financial realities were also cited. For the companies surveyed, 60% of them said the increasing costs of benefit programs are more of a concern than retaining older workers. Forty percent said that the wave of retiring boomers is not an important priority, but they did express concern that the majority of workers are not well prepared for retirement. When it comes to who’s needed most, companies said highly skilled professionals are the most valued and most at risk for a shortage, but many are not responding to this threat, the data indicated. Only one in four employers said that they are on track with preparing for the boomer outflow from the workforce and almost 31% said there has not been much thought about it. Employers who have taken steps to prepare for future labor shortages focus on recruitment, but tend to focus on younger workers, not recruitment and retention of older, skilled workers, the study revealed. “The pioneers on the employment front are those companies that have already realized that the `new retirement’ is here,” said Cynthia Hayes, head of Employer Plan Solutions at Merrill Lynch. “By permitting telecommuting and more flexible schedules, providing coaching and mentoring services, as well as offering increased access to health insurance, these companies have demonstrated that they are already thinking about the new approaches they can take to leverage a very valuable work force segment that still has the desire to work.” One other key finding in the study involved how spouses see their retirement plans. Husbands were significantly more likely to say they share common goals with their wives, while women were more apt to say they haven’t ever discussed the issue. One third of the spouses surveyed disagree about whether or not they have a viable financial plan. [email protected]

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