The last decade in the markets has permanently shifted the way Americans view retirement and how they save for it. This is more than a glib "80 is the new 65."
Wells Fargo starts the conversation with a new survey finding that 25% of middle-class Americans expect to keep working until they're at least 80 years old.
And a full 74% of the population plans to work beyond 65 or, as the survey puts it, "into their retirement years."
This phrase should immediately raise a red flag for those of you who've counseled pre-retirees lately.
Either "retirement" means you stop working, or it means you've turned 65 and qualify for government benefits. If you're working "in retirement," you're simply a 65-year-old who's working.
This notion of fully employed "retirees" has been around for awhile, but these survey results reveal that the notion of work magically stopping when Americans reach "full retirement age" is going the way of the full-benefits pension.
Leaving aside the question of whether most Americans will live that long in good enough health to remain productive, it demonstrates that 65 was really an arbitrary number to begin with.
By this point, no advisor's clients should consider 65 any more magical an age than 62 or 67.
If they have the money, they can quit working full-time well before that point and even get at their retirement savings well in advance of the normal schedule.
And if they don't have the money, it's not even an issue.
Expectations management should be the biggest concern for everyone in the retirement services community right now.
In a world where more people are keep working throughout their lives, retirement becomes less of an overarching lifetime savings objective.
What will they do with their money if they're never going to spend it? Should healthcare replace retirement as the biggest lifetime financial goal? Educating the next generation? Philanthropy?
These are all questions that clients need to at least consider if they're planning on working a lot longer.