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Study: Sustained Low Interest Rate Environment And Market Volatility Putting Retirement Security At Risk

Sustained low interest rates and market volatility are putting Americans’ retirement security at risk, according to new research developed by Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU).

According to the paper, “ Should Americans Be Insuring Their Retirement Income?” sustained low interest rates, market volatility and longevity risk are three of the most significant risks to Americans’ retirement security. If interest rates continue to be low for an extended period, retirement assets invested in conservative investments will have little investment growth and are at risk of being exhausted earlier than expected, according to the paper. In addition, continued volatility of investment returns in the equity markets creates significant “sequence of returns” risk, or the challenge of making up for lost returns after a significant market downturn, particularly just before or just after retirement. These challenges, the paper notes, are compounded by the fact that people are living longer, which further increases the chance of exhausting retirement savings.

The paper includes research provided by Ernst & Young’s Insurance and Actuarial Advisory Services practice and discusses the likelihood of the average retiree exhausting his or her retirement savings based on a number of scenarios, including a sustained low interest rate environment and continued market volatility.

“While the majority of Americans insure their most valuable assets in order to safeguard against significant financial loss, many don’t think to insure their ability to generate lifetime income,” said Bob O’Donnell, president of Prudential Annuities. “Today’s guaranteed income products were designed to help protect retirees from running out of income in retirement, regardless of market conditions or increased longevity.”

Social Security and traditional pensions offer protection against these risks; however, this protection does not exist for income created from personal savings, unless individuals choose to put it in place. The paper argues that Americans should consider insuring retirement income through products such as individual annuities or guaranteed income products built into defined contribution plans to provide the peace of mind provided by other types of insurance.

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