LGBTQ Pre-Retirees and Retirees Express Need to Preserve Retirement Savings But Take More Investment Risk

Compared to other retirees and pre-retirees, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) Americans are more inclined to see a need to preserve their retirement savings yet are more likely to take bigger risks when it comes to investing, according to a new study from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Retirees and pre-retirees who are LGBTQ are more likely to say they should become more conservative with their money as they approach retirement (42 percent) than to maintain a more aggressive investment strategy (28 percent), according to the MassMutualLGBTQ Retirement Risk Study.

Yet, 65 percent of LGBTQ respondents describe their investment mix as growth- rather than preservation-oriented compared to 52 percent of the general population; 31 percent of LGBTQ respondents acknowledge that they may be taking more risk than they should compared to 22 percent of other retirees and pre-retirees, the study finds.

Meanwhile, 17 percent of both LGBTQ respondents overall and LGBTQ retirees say they want their retirement investments to significantly outperform the market compared to 13 percent of the general population overall and 9 percent of general population retirees.

“MassMutual’s study shows that many LGBTQ retirees and pre-retirees may benefit from consulting a financial advisor about their retirement investment goals, something less than half currently do, and may benefit from help leading into retirement and securing their finances through retirement.,” said Catherine Cannon, Head of Personal Markets at MassMutual. “Of those respondents in our study who do work with a financial advisor, six in 10 say their advisor has encouraged them to change their investment mix and 87 percent of those folks were advised to become more conservative as they enter retirement.”

Overall, LGBTQ pre-retirees plan to retire later than the general population and are likely to expect that their retirement income will last at least as long as needed.

While retirees and pre-retirees overall expect to live 24 years in retirement, the study finds, LGBTQ respondents say they expect to spend two fewer years retired. Both the general population and LGBTQ respondents peg their retirement savings to last 25 years.

Ready, Set, Retire
LGBTQ retirees and pre-retirees express more confidence than the general population that they will be financially prepared for retirement, especially pre-retirees.

Despite being relatively confident in their financial prospects in retirement, stock market volatility and a major downturn in the stock market seem worrisome for the LGBTQ community as people approach or live in retirement.

Nearly three-quarters of LGBTQ respondents (74 percent) expressed concern about volatility, with 27 percent saying they are “very concerned.” The general population is somewhat less concerned, with 72 percent concerned and 21 percent “very concerned.”

However, LGBTQ respondents indicate greater comfort in taking investment risk , with only 20 percent willing to accept “below average” or “low investment returns” in exchange for greater safety, according to the study. Overall, respondents seem to seek a balance between growth and preservation.

Targeting Investment Needs
“One strategy that may help some LGBTQ retirement savers balance investment goals such as growth and safety is the use of target date funds (TDFs) when available through their employer’s 401(k) or other retirement savings plan,” Cannon said.

“TDFs automatically reallocate retirement savings between equities and fixed-income, gradually growing more conservative as the investor approaches and enters retirement. Some newer TDFs also are more personalized to investor’s individual needs, including a greater focus on managing assets in accordance with an investor’s individual risk tolerance.”

LGBTQ respondents were somewhat more likely than the general population to say they are familiar with TDFs and are more likely to invest in TDFs, according to the study. However, views about TDFS seem mixed.

“The LGBTQ community’s sentiments about investment risk – especially just before and just into retirement – are well-founded,” Cannon said. “With some professional investment assistance and a more disciplined approach, LGBTQ retirees and pre-retirees may become even more comfortable in their retirement.”

The internet-based study was conducted on behalf of MassMutual by Greenwald & Associates and polled 801 retirees who have been retired for no more than 15 years and 804 pre-retirees within 15 years of retirement. The study included an oversample of 315 LGBTQ respondents, including 149 pre-retirees and 166 retirees. Pre-retirees were required to have household incomes of at least $40,000 and retired respondents had at least $100,000 in investable assets and participated in making household financial decisions. The research was conducted in early 2018.