maze of highways with conflicting signs on them Plan sponsors "aren't seeing participants' fullretirement picture." (Photo: Shutterstock)

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No longer a straight path from employment to retirement with a pension, a U.S. employee'swork history today is cobbled together from "a mosaic of past jobs,patchy defined contribution (DC) plan participation and ascattering of savings."

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And that leads to holes in retirement strategy that aren't always gettingfilled in.

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That's among the findings of State Street Global Advisors'latest Global Retirement Reality Report, which alsopoints out that plan sponsors "aren't seeing participants' fullretirement picture," which could prove disastrous to thoseparticipants in years to come.

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Says the report, "43 percent of respondents anticipate thatparticipants will have less than 10 percent of their current incomeavailable to them in retirement, yet 79 percent express confidencethat participants will be able to retire on time."

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In fact, the report adds that 26 percent of respondents only"expect replacement ratios between 10 percent and 30 percent" butnevertheless "are optimistic about their participants' ability toretire at retirement age and afford their current lifestyle once inretirement."

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How can such conflicting views of participant preparednessexist?

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Those aforementioned blind spots could have a lot to do with it,as can employers counting on workers saving money outside theworkplace and having alternate sources of income, such as SocialSecurity, retirement savings from earlier jobs, real estate andinvestments, spousal income and benefits.

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But such beliefs don't take into account the financialstruggles many employees have in just making ends meet, as well asthreats to sponsors' ability to find additional ways to helpparticipants better prepare financially for retirement.

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Another problem is that sponsors are divided on who should endup finding and paying for financial advice on retirement readiness,with even the majority of sponsors who want to do the right thingseeing that responsibility as falling on the employee, not theemployer.

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In addition, the rise of target-date funds could be seen asyounger generations' reliance on a "point-and-click" style ofretirement saving that mirrors what they find elsewhere.

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The study also found that not saving enough (74 percent), lackof understanding (57 percent) and debt (40 percent) were the chiefcauses of inadequate savings.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.