‘We are facing a retirement crisis in our country,’ says head of TIAA, as ‘40% of Americans run the risk of running out of money’

‘We are facing a retirement crisis in our country’

— Thasunda Brown Duckett, president and CEO of TIAA

That’s CEO of TIAA Thasunda Brown Duckett, who oversees some $1.2 trillion of retirement assets for healthcare systems, colleges and nonprofits.

On Tuesday, speaking at an in-person event hosted by MarketWatch sister publication Barron’s, the chief executive explained the challenges that many Americans face as elevated pricing pressures, higher borrowing costs, doubts about the vitality of the U.S. economy and a tumble in the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.03% and S&P 500 index SPX, -0.20% create a cocktail of troubles for those at or near retirement.

“You know, in fact, there’s a $4 trillion retirement-income gap. That means 40% of Americans run the risk of running out of money in retirement,” she told Barron’s associate editor Reshma Kapadia, during an interview in New York, as a part of the publications Level Up, a series of talks including prominent women discussing money, investing and leadership.

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Duckett said that the country needs to have a real conversation about the problems prospective retirees are looking at, and noted that the difficulties may be comparatively more acute than those confronted by those in the late 1970s because defined benefit plans, or pensions, were more readily available than they are now.

Read: ‘We’re likely to see one of the greatest transfers of intergenerational wealth,’ as $68 trillion set to ‘reshape economy,’ says head of TIAA

“There have always been millions of Americans at or near retirement … but one important difference is that in the late [1970s], 67% of Americans had access to a defined benefit plan, a pension. Today that number is 23% so that’s a real difference,” she said.

In an op-ed in Barron’s back in March, Duckett implored lawmakers in Washington to intercede to help stem what she is predicting will be a crisis.

“I urge lawmakers to build on that momentum and act swiftly on several proposals to secure the financial futures of millions of Americans, including many people of color,” she wrote.

She urged Congress to make it easier for businesses to offer retirement savings plans and said policy makers should move “ahead with the bipartisan Expanding Access to Retirement Savings for Caregivers Act,” which she says could better assist women and families as they care for children.

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