small figurines of men and women separated and in little circles to show social distancing (Photo: Shutterstock)

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The economic unrest being caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic should not stop employersfrom helping workers with their retirement planning, according to a new surveyconducted by a multinational insurance and investment company.

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The 2020 Aegon Retirement Readiness survey recommends that employerscreate retirement, investment and insurance options for theirworkers, including matching contributions to retirement plans andoffering life and disability insurance.

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"Today, individuals are expected to save and invest for anincreasing proportion of their retirement income. However, manypeople find themselves ill-equipped to do so and will likely facefurther financial pressures in the wake of COVID-19," said MikeMansfield, the program director for the Aegon Center for Longevityand Retirement, in a press release.

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Mansfield added that the survey confirms "that more support isneeded for individuals to adequately harness their true savingspotential to adequately prepare for their financial future."

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Aegon surveyed 14,400 workers and 1,600 retirees across 15countries, including the United States. The online survey wasconducted between Jan. 28 and Feb. 24, 2020, the same period oftime the world began feeling the effects of the novelcoronavirus.

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Sixty-five percent of survey respondents, for instance, foundthe idea of being automatically enrolled in a retirement programupon beginning a new job to be appealing. But the report noted thatsupport for this idea varies widely by country — respondents inIndia and Brazil found this idea more appealing than theircounterparts in Japan and Hungary.

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The report's recommendations are geared toward expanding thenumber of options and the amount of information available toworkers. For instance, employers should extend options forretirement saving to all of their employees, including part-timeones and contractors.

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Aegon's recommendations also took aim at governments. Themultinational insurance company called for government measures thatwould "ensure sustainability of social security benefits…toaccommodate longer lifespans and the relative agingdemographics."

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Among the measures Aegon explicitly mentioned in its reportincluded increasing taxes to fund government-backed retirementprograms; increasing the eligibility age for receiving thosebenefits; or reducing benefits altogether.

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Additionally, Aegon also called for governments to provideaccess to affordable health care; tax incentives to encourageretirement saving; and require schools to teach students to befinancial and health literate.

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The report was authored by Aegon and the Aegon Center forLongevity and Retirement, as well as the Transamerica Center forRetirement Studies, a nonprofit subsidiary of Aegon's U.S. branch;Instituto de Longevidade Mongeral Aegon in Brazil, a nonprofitsubsidiary of a joint venture between Aegon and a Brazilian lifeinsurance company; and Cicero/AMO, a market research firm.

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David Thomas

I'm a reporter covering the business of law, with an emphasis on national and global law firms for The American Lawyer, Law.com and other ALM publications.