Family Finances

Expanding Retirement Security Through Public and Private Innovation

August 27, 2018  • Financial Security Program & Ellen Stark

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In April 2018, the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program hosted the second annual Aspen Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia. The Forum is a unique, invitation-only gathering comprised of roughly 80 senior leaders from industry, government, academia, and advocacy. It is designed to advance breakthrough solutions to one of the most critical financial challenges facing American households—the lack of adequate savings for retirement—by providing an opportunity for thought leaders from a diverse range of organizations to share their knowledge and perspectives, build trust, develop collective insights, and work together to produce results.

As savings plans continue to replace traditional pensions, too many American workers struggle to set aside adequate funds to supplement Social Security. A lot of them have no savings options on the job, including the millions who freelance or work in the expanding “gig economy.” Even many of those who do manage to save doubt that they will enjoy a comfortable retirement. Their worries are not misplaced: Roughly 40 percent of American workers report having less than $10,000 saved for retirement. Among households led by someone between the ages of 55 and 64 — the cusp of retirement — the median retirement account balance is only slightly higher, $14,500.

Against that backdrop, the Aspen Leadership Forum on Retirement Savings held its second annual meeting in April. More than 80 policymakers, financial services executives, entrepreneurs, industry association leaders, researchers, and consumer advocates convened for two days in Middleburg, Va., to discuss creating a more robust and comprehensive retirement savings system and ensuring the financial security of all Americans.