Retirement Practice Research and Insights

Retirement Market Research

The Diversified Services Group, Inc. (DSG) brings its unique approach and expertise to the retirement market. With over 20 years of financial services experience and a sustained focus on rthe retirement market, our research provides clients with critical and actionable knowledge enabling them to:

  • Understand the dynamic landscape of the retirement income market.
  • Select and market to appropriate retiree target segment(s).
  • Develop effective marketing strategies and sales approaches.
  • Design tailored portfolio of products and services to help retirees protect their assets and lifestyles.

For syndicated Research initiatives, DSG is partnering with Greenwald & Associates, who offers more than two decades of retirement market and financial services industry research, including the Retirement Confidence Survey. The combination of the two firm's breadth of experience and expertise on the retirement market and research effort will provide Sponsors of our syndicated research with better understanding and valuable insight into the retirement income market and the ability to better develop the meaningful and profitable responses to growing demand for sustainable retirement oriented strategies and financial solutions.

Available for 2017, DSG's Multi-Sponsor/Syndicated Market Research Projects include:

The Annual Retiree Insight Program - Year 5 - Launch Spring, 2017

This popular, annual multi-phase syndicated research program offered by The Diversified Services Group, Inc. (DSG) and Greenwald and Associates and at reasonable cost, is designed to provide sponsors with a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the finance-related needs and preferences of pre-retirees and retirees. The annual program is now entering its fifth year and has already produced a number of important new insights which indicate that some commonly held industry assumptions about retiree preferences are inaccurate.

For 2017, we will focus on people ages 60-75 with investable assets of $200,000 and include additional samples of those with investable assets of $100,000 to $199,999 and people ages 50-59. We will also conduct research on established financial advisors (minimum net income of at least $150,000) with a meaningful practice focus on retirement planning and retirees.

The main learning objectives for the research planned for the 2017 program include:

  • Advisor viewpoints on the production of income for retirees, interest in new and innovative products, key practice management issues including the use of robo-advice in their practice and, [if Fiduciary Standards regulations remain in place] their views on the impact of Fiduciary Standards regulations on products recommended, practice management and other activities (to be conducted in June or July 2017)
  • [If Fiduciary Standards Regulations remain in place] Measure of pre-retiree and retiree awareness of Fiduciary Standards regulations and reaction to information provided by their advisor(s), among pre-retirees and retirees who met with their financial advisor after April 2017 (to be conducted in September 2017)
  • Continued study of preferences for dealing with investment risk
  • Impact of investment risk tolerance and planning orientation on asset allocation over time and in different investment climates
  • The value of in-person advice, including the value pre-retirees and retirees seek from advisors, reaction to advisor value propositions, and what drives affinity and willingness to refer
  • The value provided by financial services firms, including the importance of the website, tools and calculators provided, reports, and other services
  • Impact of retirement on consolidation of assets, choice of advisors, asset allocation
  • Preferred strategies for producing income in retirement
  • Reactions to pre-retiree and retiree meetings with financial advisors, recorded in personal journals
  • Viewpoints on the role of retirement plan provider in retirement planning and the provision of education, advice and investment options in retirement
  • Tracking attitude change on key items from prior Retiree Insights surveys

These learning objectives will be met by seven distinct research projects, including:

  1. Two focus groups with financial advisors who have three years or more experience, income of at least $150,000 and at least 40% of their income derived from people ages 60 and older
  2. Two focus groups with pre-retirees, ages 60-75, with investable assets of at least $200,000 and no, or limited, defined benefit coverage
  3. Two focus groups with retirees, ages 65-75, with investable assets of at least $200,000 and no, or limited, defined benefit coverage
  4. Survey of 1,000 pre-retirees and retirees ages 60-75 with no defined benefit income coverage, and investable assets of at least $100,000, plus 200 people ages 50-59 with no defined benefit income coverage and investable assets of at least $100,000, plus an oversample of 150 non-married women (widowed, divorced, separated and never married) ages 60-75 with no defined benefit income coverage and investable assets of at least $100,000
  5. Survey of 300 financial advisors, from all key channels, who have income of at least $150,000 and have at least 40% of their income derived from people ages 60 and over
  6. Thirty pre-retirees and retirees preparing "journals" on their experience in meeting with financial advisors, including what they did, if anything, to prepare for the meetings
  7. Analysis of 2010 and 2013 U.S. Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finance on the asset allocations of people ages 50 and over with different levels of risk tolerance and planning orientation, including how the asset allocations of different segments changed from 2010 to 2013

Sponsors of the Research program will be invited to contribute input to all discussion guides, survey questions, interview guides, and concepts to be examined in each research module. At the completion of each phase of the program, Sponsors will receive a report on the findings from that phase.

A presentation of key findings, recommendations and discussion points will be provided to the sponsors of the program in a format conducive to an active exchange of ideas. All Sponsors will be invited to send representatives to the daylong session. Following this Sponsors' Forum, each sponsor may also choose to receive a 1 to 2 hour customized on-site presentation at their offices.

For additional information and a more detailed description of the research program, click here or please contact Borden Ayers of DSG at 610-989-1710 ext. 2;

The 2017 Retirement Income Products and Solutions Study - 3rd Quarter, 2017

The Diversified Services Group (DSG) and Greenwald & Associates, a leading national market research firm, are partnering to conduct the 13th Study of Retirement Income Products, Issues and Market Trends. Originally launched in 2000, this latest syndicated Study will determine how companies in all aspects of the financial services industry are adapting to the rapidly changing retirement income market landscape. Note: To the extent the DOL Fiduciary Rules are implemented, the Study will look at their effect on product development and initiatives in this area. Drawing from interviews with executives from prominent companies representing all segments of the financial services industry and an industry survey of financial services companies, this study will provide a comprehensive overview of the latest product trends, visions of where the retirement income market is heading, and retirement management strategies that address the need to provide viable retirement income solutions for those transitioning into retirement and retirees.

The future of retirement-oriented products is less clear than it has been since the 80's when 401k plans first came into existence and greater self-reliance and responsibility were passed to consumers to provide for their own personal retirement income. The Fiduciary Standards regulations will clearly impact the products that advisors recommend, but in ways that, at this point, are somewhat hard to predict. Simultaneously, the investment climate is significantly different than it has been for some time.

The retirement products' market is certain to grow: demographics alone will drive that outcome. But to succeed it is important for companies to anticipate key product success factors. DSG has conducted more than twelve Retirement Income Product surveys and led numerous industry forums on retirement income topics. Our firm has a history of success in implementing studies of financial services companies' plans and assessments of the retirement income market.

The Syndicated Research effort will have two components:

Financial services companies/executives survey: An online confidential survey of financial services companies/ executives who focus on the retirement market. The survey will be designed to identify and examine key metrics and tactics for specified retirement income products, as well as up and coming niche solutions. The aggregated results of the survey will provide information on retirement income products currently offered, including all types of annuities, life settlements, annuities and life insurance with living benefits, long term care insurance, payout, income oriented, and outcome oriented mutual funds. Also included will be the types of products planned to be introduced in the next two years. The Products to be considered in the survey will be specified, by DSG, Greenwald and Associates, and from Industry/Sponsor input.

In-depth executive interviews: The study will also include a series of in-depth confidential interviews with select industry executives. Individual responses will not be identified. The series of interviews with industry thought leaders will address their expectations and plans for the retirement income business, both now and in the future.

Project Deliverables

Sponsors of the Study of Retirement Income Products, Issues and Market Trends will receive a full Report, covering in-depth survey and interview research results, along with our analysis and directional considerations derived from the Research. Sponsorship will also include a webinar reviewing the research results with individual Sponsor firms.

For additional information and a more detailed description of the program, please contact Borden Ayers of DSG at 610-989-1710, ext. 2; or click here to request more information.

The Annual Retiree Insight Program - Year 4 - completed, 4th quarter, 2016

This program highlights business and marketing opportunities to pre-retired and retired individuals and households. The research program, developed and conducted jointly by Greenwald & Associates and DSG, provides financial services companies with new insights that will enable Subscribers to better target their marketing and product development and better penetrate the rapidly growing older age segment. Similar to previous years, elements of the Annual Research Program were renewed in order to track consumer reactions to new perspectives and challenges that result from ongoing changes in the financial and regulatory environment, as well as understanding retiree life events and their effect on behaviors and attitudes.

In this recently completed multi-faceted study, the Retiree Insights Program focused on retirement income planning issues from the perspective of the consumer as well as the financial advisor. These issues included assessments of financial risks; strategies for producing income; the importance of income guarantees; spending behaviors; planning processes; health care expense planning; and the optimal role and breadth of services for the financial advisor. This was achieved through six distinct research stages, examining people ages 60 to 80 with investable assets of at least $200,000 and financial advisors, experienced in providing retirement income planning and solutions to their client base.

The learning objectives of the 4th annual Retiree Insights program were as follows:

  • Gaining insights into any barriers to more effective guidelines, tools and strategies for pre-retirees and retirees. Better understanding of any factors that might interfere with more effective approaches to guiding pre-retirees and retirees.
  • Gaining insight on advice models preferred by pre-retirees and retirees and how advisors believe new technology and the possibility of new regulation by DOL will affect their approach to providing advice.
  • Understanding preferred strategies for dealing with investment risk in a low interest rate environment, including seeking insight to reaction to different approaches to downside protection and new approaches for "bounded outcome" portfolios.
  • Refining strategies for initiating and enhancing relationships with consumers during the transition to retirement through retirement journey mapping.
  • Gaining new insights into pre-retirees and retirees through expanded research into personality traits and personality trait segmentation.

The 4th Annual Retiree Insights Program conducted several distinct research phases spread out over the year. The basic deliverables consisted of five research phases, plus a one-day Sponsors' forum at the program's conclusion. An on-site presentation of the top line research results at the Sponsor's office is included with Subscription. The specific research phases/deliverables were as follows:

  • Four consumer focus groups: two with pre-retirees and two with retirees
  • Two financial advisor focus groups
  • An online survey of 1,200 pre-retirees and retirees ages 60-75: 1,000 with investable assets of at least $200,000 and an additional 200 with investable assets of $100,000 to $199,999. None will have or expect any guaranteed lifetime income from a defined benefit pension plan.
  • An online survey of 300 financial advisors
  • Comprehensive journey mapping over a seven month period through
    • an initial survey of 200 people who intend to retire within six months or retired within the past six months,
    • a follow-up survey two months later with 150 of those who participated in the first survey,
    • a follow-up survey two months after that with those who participated in both prior surveys, and
    • an electronic bulletin board qualitative study, conducted over three days, with 15 people who participated in all prior surveys.
  • Customized presentations for each sponsor at their location

This research Program was completed in the 4th Quarter of 2016. Program results and deliverables are contained in five Reports from the research phases of the program. Executive summaries were prepared for each research module and are included with subscriptions. A summary Executive Report covering all phases of the research, analysis, and directional considerations, are also included with the Program deliverables, along with a Summary Presentation Deck developed for and presented at a Sponsors Forum in November, 2016,. The Summary Presentation Deck underscores key findings from the program and was supplemented by findings taken from various other complementary research studies conducted by Greenwald and Associates and DSG. The presentation was used to frame the one day Sponsors' Forum attended by representatives from all the Sponsoring firms.

  • An on-site presentation of the top line findings and directional considerations at a Subscriber's offices is also included with the Subscription price for the Research Results. Contact us for more information and a subscription to share in the results of this unique Research.

For more information about the Research Projects, click here.

Contact: Wm. Borden Ayers
Phone: (610) 989-1710 x 2; E-mail:

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