Over the coming weeks, we will be delving deeper into the results of the Accenture Global Retirement Services Survey to answer the questions on everyone’s mind. How prepared are people for retirement? Whom do they turn to for retirement advice, products and services—and why? Is the story the same around the world, or does it vary depending on the region?

Let’s begin by taking a look at the global retirement landscape.

Massive shortfall in pension funding

State and employer retirement schemes around the world have failed to keep pace with key demographic trends, including an aging population and longer life expectancy. As health costs rise, interest rates remain low and the number of people drawing pensions grows, more pension funds are seeing expenses outstrip their incomes.

A report commissioned by the European Central Bank found that the state-funded pension obligations of 19 EU countries exceeds €30 trillion (US$37 trillion)—five times their combined gross debt. In the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported that consumers and government organizations would need an additional $6.6 trillion to preserve pensioners’ standard of living.

Taking responsibility for retirement

Contrary to conventional wisdom, which suggests that consumers are lackadaisical when it comes providing for their old age, the Accenture Global Retirement Services Survey found that people are increasingly recognizing the need to take responsibility for their retirement. In fact, 93 percent of respondents anticipate relying on personal investments to some extent.

Next week, we’ll examine what steps consumers are taking—or not—to combat retirement anxiety. In the meantime, to learn more:

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