Client outcomes

Clients are worried about life after retirement: Here’s how you can help

July 03, 2024
Man sits with couple in front of a computer.

Many of your retired clients are likely feeling the (financial) heat. The ups and downs of the markets and the economy—along with stubborn inflation—seem to be taking a toll on retirees’ peace of mind. As they look to adapt their lifestyle to their new retirement reality, many of these clients are making hard choices about their day-to-day spending habits.

As a financial professional, you can help retirees flex their financial plans to deal with today’s challenges. Nationwide’s ninth annual Advisor Authority study, powered by the Nationwide Retirement Institute®, provided insight on how retirement lifestyles are changing—and how you can help clients achieve a secure and comfortable retirement.

Growing Uncertainty Among Retirees

One of the key findings from the survey is the increasing uncertainty among retirees about their financial future. Market turbulence and an unpredictable economy have made many retirees doubt their ability to stay financially secure.

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Exacerbating these concerns may be the debt a lot of retirees still carry. For instance, about one-quarter of retired investors are still paying off mortgages, and another quarter are working to pay down credit card debt.

These financial commitments—on top of market and economic concerns—have about one in three retirees (31%) thinking they’ll be less financially secure than their parents and grandparents. More than one in five (22%) are worried about being able to afford their monthly bills.

As you know all too well, this kind of worry can impact clients’ decision-making—leading them to make choices based on emotion rather than sound financial principles. When clients make decisions based on fear or anxiety, they might invest too conservatively, miss out on potential market recoveries, or incur unnecessary penalties and taxes.

Cutting Back on Lifestyle Spending

To cope with their financial concerns, many retirees are cutting back on their spending. Our survey found that 39% of retirees are spending less on entertainment, while 34% are taking fewer trips or vacations.

Reining in lifestyle spending often means making tough choices. Some retirees are cutting back on how often they enjoy activities like dining out, attending events, or traveling to see family and friends.  This shift can impact their quality of life and emotional well-being. For many, the retirement dream includes the freedom to enjoy these kinds of experiences, so scaling back can feel like a big sacrifice.

Help Clients Plan for a Comfortable Retirement

By understanding these trends and providing tailored advice, you can recommend strategies to help your clients maintain financial stability while still doing the things they enjoy in retirement. Other financial professionals like you are using these strategies to help their clients:

  • Protect assets: Well over one-third (37%) of retired investors don’t have or don’t know if they have a strategy in place to protect their assets against market risk. An annuity is one way to help clients protect themselves against outliving their savings. To help pre-retiree clients prepare for their impending retirement, nearly one in three financial professionals will recommend annuities to protect clients’ assets against market risk (31%) and to protect clients from outliving their savings (31%)—which may indicate an underserved market.
  • Boost financial knowledge: Educate clients on essential financial concepts. When clients understand their finances better, they feel more confident. According to the survey, 44% of financial professionals say their clients are building financial confidence and knowledge as they prepare their heirs for the transfer and management of wealth.
  • Prepare for wealth transfer: Help clients prepare for the Great Wealth Transfer. Make sure they’ve confirmed beneficiary designations and reviewed or created legacy planning documents, which are planning needs voiced by 59% and 54% of respondents, respectively.

The changing financial landscape of retirement means you play a crucial role as a financial professional—by stabilizing the expectations and emotions of your clients who are nearing or in retirement and those in the wealth transfer process. By understanding the challenges retirees face and using effective strategies, you can help your clients navigate uncertainties and build a more secure life after retirement.


  • Methodology
    The research was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide from August 14-30, 2023, among 507 advisors and financial professionals and 2,404 investors ages 18+ with investable assets (IA) of $10K+.  Advisors and financial professionals included 274 RIAs, 196 broker-dealers, 143 wirehouse and 52 other financial professionals. Among the investors, there were 636 Mass Affluent (IA of $100K-$499K), 529 Emerging High Net Worth (IA of $500K-$999K), 402 High Net Worth (IA of $1M-$4.99M) and 219 Ultra High Net Worth (IA of $5M+), as well as 618 investors with $10K to less than $100K investable assets (“Less affluent”).  Investors included a subset of 464 “pre-retirees” age 55-65 who are not retired.

  • Nationwide and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. An attorney or tax advisor should be consulted for answers to specific questions.