Building resilience: What it means for retirement savings

As the economic fallout from COVID-19 threatens peoples’ livelihoods and erodes their short-term savings, it follows that their long-term financial security is also at-risk. What does it all mean for retirement savings and what steps can we take to build a more resilient system?

I like a quick fix as much as the next person. One-pot meals? Sounds great. 10-minute workouts? Sign me up.

But when it comes to building resilient retirement savings… there’s no silver bullet.

In part, that’s because we face a number of challenges all at once. Lack of access to workplace retirement plans, low saving rates, gaps in participation and employment, withdrawals to meet more pressing needs – all these undermine the ability of hardworking people to retire with dignity.

Now combine that with the economic fallout from COVID-19, and you’ve got the makings of a major crisis.

The good news? There are things we can do to improve retirement security.

That’s exactly what my group focuses on at BlackRock. We’re developing innovative solutions to address the most pressing retirement challenges. One of the toughest challenges has been to replace the security of the traditional pension: the need for guaranteed income. Not having enough money for retirement was already a primary financial concern for most Americans – one that will likely be exacerbated by the current crisis. We believe employers will increasingly recognize that there’s an urgent need for new retirement solutions that provide steady, reliable sources of income for their employees – a paycheck in retirement.

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That’s precisely the kind of innovation we’re working toward at BlackRock – and we’re bringing together expertise from across the retirement ecosystem to do it. Drawing on cutting-edge product design, behavioral finance and technology, we are building solutions to confront the accelerating retirement crisis in the United States. We are grateful to our partners for their participation in this journey.

Here’s my take: If you’ve worked hard all your life, you should be able to count on a lifetime of stable and secure income, without fear of running out of money in retirement – even if there’s turbulence and volatility along the way.

If we want to provide millions of American workers with a secure retirement, we must focus our efforts on creating new, modernized solutions that seek to provide the opportunity for guaranteed income where employees are already saving – in the target date fund, which is the default investment option in most 401(k)s.

I believe a future like this is within reach. But we must act to make it a reality. Now more than ever, this is a time when we all are increasingly concerned about our long-term financial futures. And we deserve retirement investment solutions that we can all count on – no matter what. Now that is a resilient retirement plan.

Anne Ackerley is the Head of BlackRock’s U.S. & Canada Defined Contribution (USDC) Group and a regular contributor to The Blog.

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