Research: Participants Talk Saving, Retirement Plans and Risk


Plan Sponsors and their advisors consider many factors when evaluating and defining retirement plan design. One of those should be understanding participant sentiments about saving and retirement benefits. Use findings from our 8th national survey to add insight and value in your discussions and deliberations about participant behaviors and plan features.

Watch an overview of key findings


Recurring Retirement Themes; New Lenses

As in years past, participants express savings regrets and a reliance on employers. From progressive plan design to laying the foundation for success, employees share how much they value retirement benefits and the decisions plan sponsors make on their behalf.

New this year, generational and gender lenses, as well as the unique pandemic backdrop, provide additional perspective on the findings.

The survey was conducted at the beginning of the pandemic. Although respondents could not have anticipated the coming weeks and months, they expressed their regrets about past saving behavior, the value they place on the roles of their employers and interest in holistic advice and a retirement income solution.

Get the overview of the key findings.

Retirement plan participants showed several differences among three generations in the workplace. From retirement expectations to financial worries and employee benefits, each group expressed distinct preferences.

Explore these and other generational findings.

Men and women conveyed differences in views around saving, investment advice and risk.

Review these and other gender differences from the research.

The survey was conducted between March 10 and 31, 2020. Survey included 1,508 full-time workers between 25 and 65 saving through their employer’s retirement plan. The data were weighted to reflect the makeup of key demographics (gender, income, and education) among all American private sector participants between 25 and 65. Percentages in the tables and charts may not total 100 due to rounding and/or missing categories. Data collection and analysis were completed by Mathew Greenwald and Associates of Washington, D.C.


Research Insights for Retirement Advisors and Plan Sponsors

  • Recognize the role emotions play in finances, including about retirement plans, regardless of generation or gender.
  • Embrace automatic features participants want.
  • Evaluate plan investments and services through the lens of participants, especially regarding ESG, retirement income and holistic advice.
  • Consider risk in all its forms for investment decisions.


Contact a representative for the full research findings or to schedule a client presentation.

This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.

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