TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Christine C. Marcks, Prudential Retirement

Thank you all for a dynamic conversation over the past three weeks around how we -- as individuals, as financial services providers and as a society -- can help address the challenge of retirement as people live longer. TED Conversations is a new forum for us, and we found your comments and this experience very insightful.

I believe there are concrete steps people can take to better prepare for their retirement. For starters, workers can improve their savings and investing behavior. Secondly, participants in workplace plans such as 401(k)'s should try to include some sort of guaranteed income component in their retirement planning.

We will also continue this conversation in other forums, and will add to the national debate through white papers on our company's Research & Perspectives site, http://research.prudential.com/view/page/rp .


Christine C. Marcks
Prudential Retirement

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    Apr 19 2012: I'm retired, but.... I feel secure mostly because I'm a backpacker and in good health. Also because I've lived in poor countries and have seen on how little millions of people survive. Backpacking involves carrying your home (tent), bed (sleeping bag/pad), kitchen (alcohol stove), food supply, and 'emergency kits' (medicine, sewing supplies, glue, batteries, first aid items, etc) on one's back. Except for periodic resupplies of food and water, one just keeps walking. The 'ringer' is what happens in case of illness or accident. The answer's pretty simple (and look to the developing world here): you find care or you sicken and die. I think the real challenge of aging is not 'having enough to live on' but rather a more critical need: health insurance (or enough money to obtain treatment). I know and have known folks who are still working into their 80s, who have started successful businesses in their 70s, have hiked thousands of miles in their 60s, and so on. Retirement is simply a vacation. One can start it; one can 'retire from retirement'. And in the developing world, folks don't send out resumes or try to get hired. They just start making things or providing things that other people will buy! If they don't (and if family members won't take them in) they die. We all die. They just die younger. And so with folks in our 'developed world'. The biggest difference is that in OUR world we have expectations that are very high, whereas in most poor nations (and among their peoples) they don't expect as much as we do. The match their dreams to the possible. We might do the same.... That's an individual call, not a collective one. Relying on insurance companies, 401Ks, company 'plans', and even 'savings' are great ideas -- but humans should always have backup plans. I'm reminded of Russian 'retirees' selling junk on the sidewalks in the mid-90s. They did what they had to do....

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