Retirement Security for Us Is Personal
Starting a startup like ours for retirement security might seem like pure joy from the outside. But the reality is often much different. In good weeks, it feels like you’re taking two steps forward and one step back. The bad weeks? Well, let’s just say they’re much worse.
As part of the early team at a startup, you know the odds are perpetually stacked against you (whether it comes to fundraising, business development, customer acquisition, or the myriad other challenges you face). And the fear of failing is always lurking, especially in the early days.
But when startup teams fear failure, what are they really afraid of? I’ve noticed it breaks down roughly into two camps — you either fear your company fails or you fear your social mission fails.
Think about the distinction for a second. If your biggest fear is that your company will fail (and I don’t mean this pejoratively), that’s a selfish fear — you’re worried about what you’ll tell your friends, family, or investors. And maybe you’re worried about how you’ll provide for your family.
But when you’re a true mission-driven startup, the fear of failure is very different. It’s about the missed opportunity to make the world a better place. If you’re a true believer that the world needs to know about and be a customer of what you’re building, failing means the status quo persists.
The fear of a world without true retirement security is what gets me out of bed each day. Because we’re building a business that solves retirement for us, our families, the generations we’re part of and our country as a whole. It’s a challenge we see in all facets of our lives
Retirement Security: First, it’s a Personal Challenge.
I’ve saved for retirement, sure. But I still don’t know how I’ll retire under the existing 401(k) paradigm unless markets keep going up forever (which, with history as a data point, we know is unlikely to happen).
Retirement Security: Second, it’s a Challenge for Our Families.
My parents retired last year with a financial advisor who had given no mind to how they planned to actually live in retirement and how much they planned to spend. Think about it — on the precipice of maybe a 20 or 30 year retirement without any kind of map for how to navigate it.
Retirement Security: Third, it’s a Challenge for the Different Generations Our Team is Part Of.
For GenXers and millennials, stagnant wages, non-existent pensions, and student loan debt all make retirement fell more achievable than at any time in recent memory (despite a booming stock market). And maybe Baby Boomers are on sounder footing than they could have imagined after the 2008 stock market crash, but they still face retirements that will on average be 3-5 years longer than their parents without many of the same employer safety nets.
Retirement Security: And Finally, it’s a Massive Challenge for Our Country.
I spent time at the US Treasury Department advising senior officials about the future of retirement. And that future, absent significant change, looks rather bleak. Despite a booming stock market, the massive shift of retirement responsibility to individuals has made things much more complicated and prone to failure.
We see a clear path to making retirement (and in turn decades of our lives) significantly better. Failing to do that makes the world a worse place than we know it could (and should be). That’s why for us, retirement security is personal.
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