Longer Lives and Retirement Expectations: findings from Mercer's survey

Online - hosted via Zoom
Monday 22 May 2023 (13:00-14:00)

Helen Harris


Findings from Mercer’s Global Talent Trend survey and Pulse Poll on living longer, retirement, and pension savings by the World Economic Forum and Mercer.

This research is aimed to assess people’s understanding of changing demographic trends & the potential impact of this knowledge on retirement needs. Mercer’s work in this area is wide ranging and comes from client projects, a Global Talent Trends (GTT) study with over 11k voices, as well as a recent mini pulse poll which aimed to assess people’s understanding of changing demographic trends and the potential impact of this knowledge on retirement needs when planning for a longer life. The World Economic Forum and Mercer ran a Longevity Literacy Pulse Poll in the fall of 2022 with their partners, via their networks and connections to a global corporate client audience. The poll explored concerns around living longer, expectations around work and retirement, understanding of savings and how connected people feel. The GTT study explored ways in which individuals and employers are responding to potentially longer working lives.

On the GTT survey, our findings revealed that 72% of employees trust their company to help them prepare for retirement. We examined what it is that employees say makes them stay with an organization, flexibility topped the list with 34% willing to forgo a pay increase for flexibility. 20% of employees would forgo a pay increase for free financial planning and retirement advice. 84% expect to work past retirement age with financial uncertainty being one of the main drivers. In response to this, 39% of companies are enabling employees to adapt retirement benefits to their personal circumstances. And 38% of companies are proactively offering older workers different employment options, including phased retirement. Employees’ view when it comes to how their organization supports their career differ by generation; Gen Y feel generally more supported in their careers than Gen Z and Baby Boomers.

On the Pulse Poll, our findings revealed that despite the pressures on savings from longer retirements, over 40% of under 40s want to retire by age 60. When it comes to attitudes towards retirement, more men than women look forward to retirement, and women are 55% more likely to admit not knowing if they have saved enough. There is a difference in how different age groups receive financial advice with younger people 8 times more likely to use social media. Thinking about wider family, a majority of respondents (2/3rds) believe they will be caregivers in the future with many young people saying they think will need to financially support older members of the family. When it comes to social connections, more women and younger people feel isolated.

The report outlining the Pulse Poll results includes actionable strategies that can be employed to have a sustainable and resilient life by focusing on the three pillars of longevity literacy: quality of life, purpose, and financial resilience. The conclusion includes recommendations for three critical stakeholders, government, private sector, and individuals, to consider as part of a broader response to plan realistically, think creatively, and act with greater urgency to our changing demographics.


Azka Ali works at Mercer Ltd and has 15 years of experience as a trustee and corporate actuarial consultant. She has held additional management roles such as the Local Wealth Leader for Birmingham working directly with Mercer UK’ leadership team. She consults with clients on a wide range of services, managing a range of stakeholders including CEOs and CFOs. Azka is currently on a secondment to the World Economic Forum on the topic of “Longevity Literacy” featured at Davos 2023.