Steve Utkus

Steve Utkus

Steve Utkus oversees the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research, which studies many aspects of retirement in America—from how individuals start saving and investing in the early part of their careers, to how they prepare for actual retirement, to how they spend down their savings once they’re retired. Steve is particularly interested in behavioral finance—the study of how rational decision-making is influenced by human psychology. His current research interests also include the ways employers design retirement programs, and new developments in retirement in other countries. Steve holds a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He began working at Vanguard in 1987 and has served as director of the Center for Retirement Research since 2001. Steve is also a visiting scholar at the Wharton School.

Recent blog posts by Steve Utkus

retirement

Health costs in retirement

The national debate on health reform has me thinking about a particular angle of the question: paying for health care in retirement. Let’s put aside for the moment long-term care costs (i.e., nursing homes) and focus on regular medical care—doctors’ …

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retirement

The retirement oil tanker

Each year in August we publish a compendium of statistics about 401(k) plans administered at Vanguard. As the report covers over 3 million American participants, it often generates a lot of interest from the media, policymakers, consultants, and employers. (You’re …

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4 Comments
retirement

Retirement: ready or not?

We were vacationing last month in Scotland. At a small country hotel—on a misty Western isle—I mentioned to a group of guests that I conduct research at Vanguard on retirement issues. You guessed it: Suddenly the conversation shifted from the …

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investing

Target-date risks

Criticism of target-date funds is heating up in the aftermath of hearings by the SEC and the Department of Labor. But rather than illuminating the retirement investing problem, the discussion has only highlighted a yawning deficit in the public debate.…

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18 Comments
investing

The sound of cannon

Apparently the Rothschilds, the great banking family, had a saying about when to commit capital: “Buy at the sound of cannon; sell at the sound of violins.”

Although they probably were thinking about political instability, the saying has a contemporary …

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1 Comments
retirement

The new retirement math

For retirement investors, the weak 10-year track record of stocks means it’s time to renew a focus on the economics of retirement. The math is pretty simple, at least at a high level:

Contributions (C) + investment returns (R) = …

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4 Comments
retirement

“201(k)” revisited

My recent blog post on 401(k) accounts has generated controversy among some Vanguard investors.

Perhaps the biggest complaint was that I was trying to distort statistics by focusing on the change in 401(k) account balances during 2008. The evolution of …

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1 Comments
retirement

True retirement confidence

The headline from a recent survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) says it all: Only 13% of working Americans are “very confident” they’ll have enough money for retirement.

That’s the lowest level on record for the survey. …

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2 Comments
retirement

201(k)?

Has your 401(k) become a 201(k)? That’s a pretty common joke these days, as financial commentators look for new ways to talk about plunging markets—and plunging 401(k) balances.…

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0 Comments
investing

Junk news

Driving through the Pennsylvania countryside at 7:30 one morning, here’s the news I hear on the radio (read breathlessly): “And in the morning business news, Dow futures are down 300. S&P futures down 40. Nasdaq futures down 80.”

I’m amused …

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