Segmenting the middle market: Retirement risks and solutions (Phase I report)

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By Noel Abkemeier, Brent Hamann | 01 April 2009

The Society of Actuaries’ Committee on Post-Retirement Needs & Risks has focused prior research on the development of a “retirement needs framework” and a deeper understanding of the risks faced by households approaching and in retirement.

The objectives of this research effort are to further the Committee’s work by defining relevant and actionable consumer segments among middle-income/mid-level net worth households (Phase I), and also to define decision processes which could lead to a set of answers or “solutions” which address the retirement risks faced by each segment (Phase II).

The SOA requested that the research focus on households headed by 50 to 75 year olds, and with net worth between $50,000 and $1,000,000.

Our approach to the research began with the understanding, based on prior research, that the retirement experience for consumers is diverse. Based on relative preparedness, as well as other family and household characteristics, this diversity will likely lead to distinct needs for various market segments and, as a result, the need for distinct retirement solutions. Even among the broad “middle market,” as defined above, there are distinguishable segments. Our belief is that at the core of the development of successful retirement solutions will be the need to understand these consumer segments, and pair that understanding with appropriate advice, products, and services.

The specific middle market, as defined for this research, represents approximately 60% of all households either approaching or currently in retirement (it excludes 25% with less wealth and 15% with more). It specifically includes:

  • 32 Million Households
  • 28% of total U.S. households
  • The 25th to 85th percentiles of all households (as measured by income)

This report was prepared for Society of Actuaries.