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Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker Study Reveals Changing Concept of Retirement

Inaugural survey indicates desire for personalization and workplace assistance to achieve a reimagined retirement where financial health plays an integral part of overall wellbeing

Retirement today feels “less cookie cutter than it used to be”, according to 82% of those polled in Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker Survey. The vast majority of respondents indicate that retirement now looks different for everyone (88%) and that there is no single path to retirement today (82%). A majority envision their financial future will be different from their grandparents (65%), parents (56%), and children (56%).

The inaugural survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton, is connected to Franklin Templeton’s Retirement Innovation Initiative (RII), which launched in January 2020 with the goal of improving retirement in the U.S.

“We believe every U.S. worker and household has the right to experience financial wellbeing throughout each phase of life,” said Yaqub Ahmed, Head of Retirement, Insurance & 529 – U.S. at Franklin Templeton. “New dynamics represent an opportunity for breakthrough innovation and require imagination, creativity and collaboration to solve. Our mission with RII is to bring together industry experts to help improve the future of retirement in the United States and to guide Franklin Templeton’s retirement strategy and product efforts in the context of our shared vision of success.”

A More Holistic View – Financial Health Now Part of Overall Health

The vast majority of survey respondents associate their current physical (74%), mental (70%), and financial (66%) health with wellbeing. More than half say their financial wellbeing isn't primarily about money but includes their health and lifestyle (57%).

Interestingly, while workers today place nearly equal importance on mental (81%), physical (80%) and financial (76%) health, they feel least in control of their financial (55%) health as compared to physical (62%) and mental (58%) health.

Many respondents struggle to find a holistic view, with 61% indicating they need to consult many sources to get an overall picture of their finances, and 51% stating it is too complicated to integrate all of their financial info and goals into a single picture. Seventy percent would like a “Fitbit-like program for their finances” to easily track everything all in one place.

The Future of Benefits – Closing the Financial Health Gap and Building Benefits for the Modern Workforce

Three out of four workers want their workplace to provide more resources to help them with their overall financial wellbeing (75%), believing their employer should provide incentives for good financial habits (79%) – as well as good health habits (78%). In fact, 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 wellbeing, with top choices being planning tools and resources (89%). Tools designed to help achieve financial independence (35%) and visualize long- and short-term financial goals side by side (35%) top their wish list.

As financial futures become more fluid, personalization is non-negotiable. Nearly three quarters (73%) of workers expect their financial management apps and programs to use what they know about them to suggest the most appropriate resources, while 62% say, “unless I am getting personalized recommendations, I feel like financial education isn't very helpful” (68% men vs. 54% women).

Americans are seeking a holistic and consolidated view of their finances to achieve overall financial health:

  • 73 percent say they wish there was a resource that combined the financial view of their entire household.
  • 73 percent say they wish there were more ways to get a view of their overall wellbeing.
  • 62 percent say they wish they had a ‘wellbeing coach’ to help with all areas of wellness not just physical or financial.

Changing Retirement Landscape – Financial Freedom is Top Priority

Eighty percent of respondents agree that the traditional idea of retirement is no longer accurate for most people’s expectations or experiences, while at the same time, three quarters (75%) say that their future financial goals and plans look different today than they did five years ago.

Respondents also feel it is more important to achieve financial freedom than to retire but that financial freedom is not always as attainable. More specifically, 76% of respondents say there is appeal in achieving financial freedom, while only 56% think it is likely achievable. At the same time, 69% say there is appeal in retirement, while 61% say it is likely achievable – a notably smaller gap.

Workers identified their most important financial milestones today as financial freedom (76%) and financial independence (74%), also indicating that financial independence feels more empowering than retirement (81%). Women find financial independence particularly appealing (81 percent vs. 68 percent men).

“The American worker is looking to employers to upgrade their long-term financial health and optimize their overall wellbeing,” added Ahmed. “Technology will play an integral role for employers and employees to address these needs. New innovations will allow individuals to reap the rewards, and educate themselves, so they may achieve financial independence.”


This study was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton from October 16 to 28, 2020, among 1,007 employed U.S. adults. All respondents had some form of retirement savings. Data are weighted where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Franklin Templeton

Franklin Resources, Inc. [NYSE:BEN], is a global investment management organization with subsidiaries operating as Franklin Templeton and serving clients in over 165 countries. Franklin Templeton’s mission is to help clients achieve better outcomes through investment management expertise, wealth management and technology solutions. Through its specialist investment managers, the company brings extensive capabilities in equity, fixed income, multi-asset solutions and alternatives. With offices in more than 30 countries and approximately 1,300 investment professionals, the California-based company has over 70 years of investment experience and approximately $1.5 trillion in assets under management as of May 31, 2021. For more information, please visit and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright © 2021. Franklin Templeton. All rights reserved.


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