Conventional wisdom about retirement has been slowly shifting over the past couple of decades. Many people realize they might have to work past age 65, that they haven’t saved enough, that they might be caring for both adult children and aging parents. They fear college tuition costs for their children might rise well in excess of inflation. Some economists even argue that we’re at a bizarre and minatory inflection point—in which stocks are at their peak value and bonds, languishing amid rising interest rates, will lose their power to yield—and that the two awful trends, when taken together could whipsaw older Americans trying to draw blood from their securities.

In a recent survey of 1,124 advisors performed by Financial Advisor magazine, 62.90% of advisors said that their clients decided to work longer because they felt their savings were not enough to retire on, though this was one of many options they could choose; 88.97% said their clients made the choice because they enjoy working. Health benefits also played a big role in the decision, as some half of the advisors (49.56%) said their clients were continuing to work because they needed the health benefits. A substantial number (37.46%) said their clients were continuing to work because they had a business or practice they couldn’t sell. 

“The last five years for interest-only savers has been a total loss,” says survey participant Louis Avalos, an advisor with Waddell & Reed in Cosa Mesa, Calif. “However, for those who have used bond funds, dividends stocks and income portfolios, the results have been much better. If they are bold, the use of income annuities has helped provide some real income.”

When asked whether their working clients are more optimistic or less optimistic about having enough money for their lifetimes, only 10.68% of advisors said their clients were more optimistic, while 35.41% said their clients were less optimistic (53.92% said their clients felt about the same). Some 42.79% said that their prospects (as opposed to their clients) were unrealistic about what they would need to save for retirement, while only 6.5% were very realistic (50.71% were “somewhat realistic.”)

When 1,124 advisors were asked what percentage of their clients age 65 and older were still working, the average percentage was 31.52%. But when they were asked what percentage of their clients age 55 and over had planned to work past age 65, the number was much greater: 67.25%.

The answers also showed the changing nature of the retirement plan landscape. Of 1,060 advisors polled, the average percentage of clients receiving defined benefit plan income was a measly 21.53%, whereas DC plan participants, on average, represented 52.41% of those getting income.

The political landscape has bred pessimism among older clients, says Joseph Tovey, an advisor in New York City speaking to Financial Advisor in a follow-up interview. He says there are a few reasons why those clients are more pessimistic about their ability to save.