TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson: Retirement may well become a crisis if we don't act

At Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit, Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA and former vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, discussed America’s growing wealth and income gap and urged caution during the current bull market, one of the longest in history.

“We know at some point this will slow down. We don’t know when. … Let’s think about your risk appetite. If there’s a 10% correction, how will that make you feel? … If you think something like that might distress you, then pull back a little bit,” said Ferguson.

He recommends investors diversify their portfolios based on their risk appetites in case of a recession.

“Equities, fixed income, think about your own home — How much cash do you have for an emergency? So, have a plan … You have to be mindful of preparing for those rainy days without giving up the upside that comes from having equities,” said Ferguson.

RELATED: 16 countries where you can retire ‘happier’ than in the US

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16 countries where you can retire ‘happier’ than in the US
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16 countries where you can retire ‘happier’ than in the US

17. United States

Even though the U.S. ranks 17th, lower overall than 16 other countries on the list, there are other countries that aren’t faring as well. For example, France ranks 19th, Japan 22nd and the Slovak Republic 25th. Click through to see which countries ranked higher and how these options might affect your retirement plans.

16. Czech Republic

Jumping up two spots in the overall rankings year over year, the Czech Republic had the strongest performance in the Material Wellbeing subindex. Although the country’s Quality of Life subindex ranks 23rd, it’s an improvement from last year, reflecting both environmental improvements and an increase in the happiness indicator.

Related: The Best Retirement Plans All Have These 6 Features

15. Belgium

Belgium holds on to its 15th-place rank, partly because Belgium showed improvements in Finances even though it made no measurable progress in other subcategories. Although it maintained the same scores for both Quality of Life and Health, it declined in the area of Material Wellbeing.

14. Ireland

Ireland climbed two spots to 14th place overall due to improvements in three of its subindices: Material Wellbeing, Finances and Quality of Life. An improvement in environmental factors and happiness score indicators are responsible for the elevated Quality of Liferanking.

13. Austria

Austria ranks ninth overall in the study, due to suffering the decline in two of its subindices: Finances, ranking at 37th, and Health, at 11th. Both the Material Wellbeing and Quality of Life subindices remain the same since 2016 in fourth and eighth place, respectively.

Calculator: Find Out How Much Your Dollar Is Worth Around the World

12. Finland

Finland suffered a decline in all subindices except Quality of Life, which jumped up to second place. But this improvement is due to a decrease in the environmental factors indicator, not an increased happiness indicator.

See Where Finland Ranks: The Most Expensive Countries to Live In

11. Canada

Even though Canada showed progress in environmental factors, it suffered a Quality of Life score decrease, currently ranked 15th, due to a fall in the happiness indicator. The country ranked in the top 10 for Health and Finances, however.

Visit: These Are the Places in Canada Where Your Dollar Goes Further

10. Luxembourg

Luxembourg has ranked first overall for the past two years in the Health subindex. Areas of improvement in this year’s rankings include Material Wellbeing, with a fifth-place ranking and Quality of Life, with a 20th-place ranking.

Watch Out: Luxembourg and Other Countries With Higher Taxes Than America

9. Netherlands

Even though the Netherlands declined in three out of the four subindices, it improved in the Quality of Life subindex. Improvements in environmental factors, plus an elevated happiness indicator, are responsible for the Netherlands’ higher Quality of Lifeindex.

8. Denmark

Denmark improved its overall ranking this year by climbing four spots to No. 8. The country ranks first the in Quality of Life subindex.

See Where Denmark Ranks: Best and Worst Countries for the Rich

7. Germany

Germany ranks high for happiness and retirement for 2017, taking the seventh spot in the study. The country’s ranking features two top 10 spots in subindices: Material Wellbeing and Health, 10th place.

6. Australia

Australia’s overall ranking of sixth place is due to two top 10 finishes in Quality of Life, ninth place, and Finances, fifth place. The country also has the seventh-highest ranking of life expectancy overall.

Read: What the U.S. Can Learn From Australia and Other Countries’ Retirement Programs

5. New Zealand

New Zealand’s fifth-place overall ranking is due to its top 10 subindices: It ranks second in Finances and sixth in Quality of Life. Its happiness indicator rank is No. 8 overall.

See: How Expensive Is It to Live in New Zealand?

4. Sweden

Sweden has a No. 4 overall ranking due, in part, to its top 10 performance in these subindices: Health, fifth place; Quality of Life, fifth place; and Material Wellbeing, ninth place. The country also has the ninth-highest score overall for the happiness indicator.

Find Out: This U.S. State Is Richer Than Sweden

3. Iceland

Iceland ranks third overall and made its biggest improvements in the Material Wellbeing and Finance sectors. It ranks in the top 10 in two of the four subindices: Quality of Life, seventh place and Material Wellbeing, second place.

Related: That Dream Trip to Iceland Might Cost More Than You Think

2. Switzerland

Switzerland comes in second because it is the only other country besides Norway that ranks in the top 10 for all subindices. The country ranks fourth overall for the happiness indicator. 

Related: The World’s Best Tax Havens

1. Norway

Norway ranks first overall because it ranks in the top 10 in all subindices. It also has the highest rank for the happiness indicator— which is tied to the Quality of Life subindex — out of all of the countries in the study.

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Living — and working — longer

With advances in medicine, Americans in their early 60s can now expect a 20- to 40-year retirement. Ferguson says the U.S. may be headed toward a retirement crisis if people haven’t factored longevity into their savings.

“For individuals save more, [there’s] no such thing as saving less … which means think about a budget and plan for having to pay for some of your retirement yourself. Secondly, if you are working, make sure you signed up for your employer’s retirement plan and max it out so that you can get the match. The third … as you’re thinking about your retirement money, recognize it’s gotta last for 20 or 30 years, so you do want to be diversified,” advises Ferguson.

Those policies which my company specializes in are called annuities. Think about sharing the risk of a potentially long life with an insurance company by purchasing an annuity,” he said.

Ferguson also supports Social Security reform, acknowledging that Americans may simply have to delay their retirements to help manage the shortfall.  “Working a little longer may be part of the Social Security answer,” Ferguson said.

Sibile Marcellus is an on-air reporter covering the day’s top stories in business for Yahoo Finance’s three daily live shows. Follow her on Twitter @chasingsibile

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