Family Finances

2021 Aspen Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings Report

January 6, 2022  • Financial Security Program

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In April 2021, the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program kicked off its fifth annual Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings. In a departure from previous years, this event was held virtually, convening leaders from financial services to grapple with the issues that have prevented our country from building the inclusive, adequate savings system necessary to achieve retirement security for all. This fifth convening began with a free, public conversation on how retirement savings must be a part of an equitable recovery from the pandemic and the gaps in the safety net it revealed. 

As we saw state and national-level policy changes and private market innovations gain momentum in 2021, the fifth annual Aspen Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings hosted four intimate, deep dialogues among leaders from diverse sectors:  financial services, government, consumer advocacy, academia, nonprofits, fintech, and beyond.

These reports summarize the deep conversations between these experts and reveal both the convergence and divergence on the set of policy and market solutions that will enable all workers in America to meaningfully participate in a retirement savings system that builds financial security.

Expanding Worker Access to Automatic Enrollment Into Retirement Savings identifies promising solutions to expand access to automatic enrollment for workers across America and grapples with the specific policy, market, and racial equity implications of various approaches.

Building User-Centric, Portable Retirement Savings Tools for a 21st Century Workforce explores what role portability and user-centricity should play in how we expand access to workplace retirement savings in pursuit of an inclusive, effective retirement savings system. This report explores a key question: what do we really mean by portability — and how can portability translate to permanence?

Strengthening and Steadying Cash Flow in Retirement explores the most promising options for creating safe, easy, and equitable non-labor income streams to support household financial security -and dignity- in retirement. This report also asks what public and private sectors can do to support Americans of all income and wealth levels as they wrestle with the complex task of converting retirement savings to a lasting income. 

Centering Racial Equity and Wealth Building in an Inclusive Retirement Savings System summarizes a dialogue in which diverse experts on both retirement savings and economic equity explored what we know- and don’t know – about how to create a retirement savings system that is a net contributor to closing multiple racial wealth gaps.

At the halfway point for the Aspen Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings’ planned 10-year journey, two things have become clear: systemic change is needed across a range of issues, and that systemic change will require collaboration and commitment from both the private and public sectors. The summary reports from these intensive dialogues among cross-sector leaders display a growing diversity of interest and leadership on the issue of inclusive retirement savings, and a wealth of creative ideas from leaders that we look forward to supporting in 2022 and beyond at the Aspen Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings.

The Aspen Retirement Savings Initiative thanks AARP, BlackRock, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Prudential Financial, and T. Rowe Price for their generous support of the Forum as well as this report.