Robert Warner

Survey Says: Pilots Engaged in Retirement Planning ? Most Want A Financial Plan and Professional Guidance

A recent comprehensive survey of pilots on retirement planning confirms what I have found to be true over the 15 years I have worked with pilots. The survey results showed that pilots are aggressive savers, are more likely to be engaged in planning to reach their retirement goals and take full advantage of all their retirement plans have to offer. Like other well compensated, more sophisticated professionals, many pilots are good at putting money aside for retirement, allocating their assets and active in rebalancing their portfolios.

Here are some of the survey highlights:

  • 80% of the pilots surveyed contribute to their retirement plan
  • Most are contributing a sizable percent of their income to their plans:
  • 12% contribute 20% or more
  • 41% contribute 11 – 20%
  • 20% contribute 6 – 10%
  • 18% contribute 0 – 5%
  • 74% of the pilots surveyed have a financial plan and one third of those plans were prepared by an advisor
  • 19% rebalance quarterly, 23% rebalance annually and 40% rebalance on an ad hoc basis
  • 24% of the pilots surveyed already work with an advisor and 64% aspire to work with an advisor to help meet retirement goals
  • 75% are confident in their retirement planning
  • 60% use the brokerage window their plan offers

Over the years of working with pilots from the major airlines as they prepare for retirement, I have seen first-hand the many changes to benefits plans, especially in the past 5 or 6 years and to pilots’ retirement plans themselves. Some benefits plans have changed significantly due to bankruptcies, mergers and streamlining of benefits plans. The changes to benefits plans have meant that most pilots have had to work longer and save more in order to reach their retirement goals. As a result, many are seeking outside guidance to help them with the complexity. What I have found effective in working with these pilots is taking full advantage of the brokerage window which allows them to invest in mutual funds or other investments not included in their plan’s investment line up. I have worked with many pilots to further diversify their portfolios, seek out an optimum asset allocation given their unique circumstances, or augment their current retirement plan investment line up with the brokerage window. As all pilots know, take-off and landing are critical to a successful journey, and this holds true for pilots saving for retirement. If they successfully plan starting 10 – 15 years before retirement, they should find a smooth landing in retirement.

The full results of the survey can be found at this link.

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Views and comments expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the positions of Cleary Gull or fellow Cleary Gull associates.