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 2018, DSG's Multi-Sponsor/Syndicated Market Research Projects include:

The Annual Retiree Insight Program - Year 6 - Launch March, 2018

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 sixth year and has already produced a number of important new insights which indicate that some commonly held industry assumptions about retiree preferences are inaccurate. We have developed a track record of providing high value through a multi-phase program of research. We believe this research will provide sponsors, at a low cost, with information and insights that they can use to develop key marketing initiatives and competitive new solutions focused on the retirement market.

There are several key points during the journey to and through retirement in which consumers 1) are confronted with key decisions that will affect their long term financial security and 2) have generally not handled the situation optimally. This confluence of factors provides companies in the retirement space with an opportunity to provide advice and solutions which will help these consumers meet the challenges and take effective action. Taking the most effective action requires deep insight into the viewpoints that are driving decision making. The 2018 Retiree Insights program is designed to provide these insights by focusing on four key consumer segments and financial advisors active in providing retirement services to their clients.

  • Pre-retirees ages 50-60 with investable assets of $150,000 or more
  • Pre-retirees and retirees ages 60-70 who have investable assets of $200,000, including an oversample with a low allocation to equities, e.g. less than 45% of investable assets in stocks and stock mutual funds and no real estate investments, other than primary residence
  • "Suddenly single" women, ages 50-70 and ½, with investable assets of $200,000 and over who are unmarried and were divorced or widowed in the past two years
  • Retiring retirement plan participants with $200,000 and over in their retirement plan who are confronting a decision about whether or not to roll their retirement plan accumulations out of their retirement plan(s)

Note: The consumer research modules will make best effort to screen out individuals covered by a defined benefit plan and/or expects guaranteed lifetime income, either for themselves or a partner, from a defined benefit plan. With the incidence of people retiring with defined benefit income dropping substantially, one of the research goals is to clearly represent the future of retirement.

The main learning objectives for the research planned for the 2018 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, their views on the impact of Fiduciary Standards regulations on products recommended, practice management and other activities
  • 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:

Phase One: Six Consumer Focus Groups: Investment strategies; financial planning needs; and interest in different retirement planning tools and solutions will be included in the research topics.

Phase Two: Two Advisor Focus Groups: Research topics will include best strategies and solutions for dealing with investment risk; continuing impact of DOL and technological advances on business practices; and viewpoints on commissioned solutions and key investment strategies, to name a few.

Phase Three: Survey of 500 Pre-Retirees Ages 50-60 with investable assets of $150,000 and over: Interest in retirement planning and income products, receptivity to planning tools, interest in solutions that use guarantees and provide income starting in retirement, and interest in dynamic asset allocation will be the primary areas of we propose to study.

Phase Four: Survey of 600 Pre-Retirees and Retirees Ages 60-70 with Investable Assets of $200,000, including at least 400 who have less than 45% of their assets in equities: Research topics of interest will include concerns about investment risk and interest in tactics for managing investment risk, perceived financial obligations to family members and impact on their saving and investment strategies, interest in solutions with guarantees, and interest in setting up income flow just prior and just after retirement.

Phase Five: Survey of 500 "Suddenly Single" Women Ages 50-70½, who were widowed or divorced in the past two years and have not re-married: Key finance and investment related problems caused by end of marriage; sources of information; and reaction to key solutions and tools will be areas of research focus.

Phase Six: Survey of 300 Financial Advisors: Investment tactics for clients with low investment risk tolerance; use of digital tools; support needed from solution manufacturers and broker dealers; and the continuing impact of Fiduciary Standards regulations will be included in the survey questions.

Phase Seven: 18 In-Depth Interviews with "Just Retired Plan Participants" who have Retirement Plan Assets of at least $200,000 and who just made a rollover decision: Key factors in deciding whether to roll money out of retirement plan; research topics will include perceptions of advantages for keeping monies in the plan vs. rolling it out; and satisfaction with investment choices available within the plan.

A key focus of the Retirement Income program is delivering insights in a clear and compelling way. Thus, at the conclusion of the research, we will hold a Sponsors' Forum in which each sponsor can send up to three representatives for a five-hour presentation and discussion of the results. Every sponsor is also invited to schedule a customized presentation at their offices. Both presentations are included in the Sponsorship fee.

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; bordena@dsg-network.com

The Annual Retiree Insight Program - 5th Annual Study - completed, 4th quarter, 2017

Greenwald & Associates and The Diversified Services Group, Inc. (DSG) conducted an ongoing program of annual research to develop a comprehensive and ongoing in-depth understanding of the finance-related needs and preferences of pre-retirees and retirees. Primary components of The 5th annual syndicated research effort focused 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. The Project also included research on established financial advisors (minimum net income of at least $150,000) with a meaningful practice focus on retirement planning and retirees.

The 5th annual program continued to provide improved understanding of the retirement market and produced a number of important new insights, which indicated that some commonly held industry assumptions about retiree preferences are inaccurate.

The main learning objectives for the 2017 syndicated research program included:

  • 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
  • Measurements of pre-retiree and retiree awareness of Fiduciary Standards regulations and reaction to information provided by advisor, among pre-retirees and retirees who met with their financial advisor throughout the summer and early fall of 2017
  • Improved understanding of preferences for dealing with investment risk and the impact of investment risk tolerance and planning orientation on asset allocation over time and in different investment climates
  • Assessment of 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
  • Perceived value of education and planning tools provided by financial services firms, including the importance of the website, tools and calculators provided, reports, and other services
  • Directional considerations concerning consolidation of assets, choice of advisors, and asset allocation
  • Increased understanding of preferred strategies for producing income in retirement
  • Reactions to pre-retiree and retiree meetings with financial advisors, recorded the day before and the day after the meeting took place
  • Improved awareness of viewpoints on the role of retirement plan providers 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 were incorporated into and met by six distinct research projects/Phases:

  1. Financial Advisor Focus Groups: Two focus groups with financial advisors who had three years experience, income of at least $100,000, and a significant focus on the pre-retirement and retirement market.
  2. Consumer Focus Groups:
    • Three focus groups with pre-retirees, ages 55-75, with investable assets of at least $200,000, and no, or limited, defined benefit coverage.
    • Two focus groups with retirees, ages 60-75, with investable assets of at least $200,000, and no, or limited, defined benefit coverage.
  3. Survey of Older Consumers: 20-minute online interviews with 1,337 consumers ages 60 to 75, using the Research Now online panel. The survey was conducted in August and September 2017. Beyond meeting the age requirement, consumers had to have investable asset levels of at least $200,000, take the lead or share equally in financial decisions for their household, and not now receive or expect to receive income form a defined benefit plan.
    • Add on Consumer Survey samples:
      • Two comparison samples were also surveyed. The first, a younger segment, consisted of 203 consumers ages 50 to 59 with assets of at least $100,000.
      • The second, a lower asset segment, consisted of 200 consumers ages 60 to 75 with assets of $100,000 to $199,999.
  4. Survey of Financial Advisors: 20-minute online interviews with 300 Financial Advisors with at least 40% of their clients ages 60 and over. The survey was implemented in September and October 2017. Sample was drawn from a list of advisors provided by FMG, a leading compiler of lists of licensed advisors. Advisors received a $50 honorarium for completing the survey.
  5. Journaling study of pre-retiree and retiree views about meeting their financial advisor: Twenty-two pre-retirees and retirees prepared "journals" on their experience in meeting with financial advisors, including what they did, if anything, to prepare for the meetings. In addition, to get more detailed insight into the real time reaction to a meeting with an advisor, five 45-minute in-depth interviews were also conducted with people who fit our criteria and had just met with their financial advisor. Note: Participants for this research module were required to be between 55 and 75 years of age, have at least $200,000 in assets, and be a financial decision-maker for their household.
  6. Analysis of 2010 and 2013 U.S. Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finance: A targeted analysis 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.

Deliverables: Six Individual Reports, Executive Summaries, and, where applicable, support documentation and background material are included with a Subscription to the completed 5th Annual Retiree Insights Research Project. A presentation of key findings, recommendations, and discussion points was provided to all sponsors of the program at a day long Sponsors' Forum in a format conducive to an active exchange of ideas. Copies of the Sponsors' Forum Presentation are also included with a Subscription. An elective onsite top line presentation of the research findings is also included with a Subscription to the 5th Annual Research Program.

For additional information and a more detailed description of the program, please contact Borden Ayers of DSG at 610-989-1710 ext. 2; bordena@dsg-network.com or Matt Greenwald at 202-686-2510 ext. 101; mathewgreenwald@greenwaldresearch.com.

The 2018 Retirement Income Products and Solutions Study - planned launch 4th Quarter, 2018

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; bordena@dsg-network.com or click here to request more information.

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