Segments in this Video

Retirement Crisis (02:01)


50% of Americans can't afford to save for retirement. 31-year-old economist Robert Hiltonsmith and 32-year-old teacher Crystal Mendez hope to stay above poverty when they retire.

Rising Living Costs (01:32)

54-year-old Mark Featherston plans to work until his 70s. Bob Wood is semi-retired and hopes his nest egg will last with inflation.

Delaying Retirement (01:48)

Frontline correspondent Martin Smith started saving in his 20s, but dipped into his nest egg several times. He'll have to work until 75—a common issue for Baby Boomers.

401K Mystery (02:38)

Most Americans lack retirement investment knowledge. Learn how the mutual fund industry has avoided product risk regulation.

Pension System (01:39)

Pensions guaranteed a good percentage of salary upon retirement. Longevity, globalization, and market volatility changed the rules.

Shifting Pension Burden (02:06)

401Ks began as a corporate tax dodge, and shared retirement savings between employers and employees. Learn how the individual shoulders investment risk.

Selling the 401K Dream (03:29)

Learn how the mutual fund industry encouraged individuals to invest during the '80s and '90s bull market.

Dot Com Crash (01:50)

In spring 2000, the market collapsed. Americans had put 19% of retirement money into internet company stocks; many saw their 401K portfolios plummet.

Losing Retirement Savings (02:29)

Since the 2008 financial crisis, many Americans have had to withdraw from their 401Ks to pay bills. Meanwhile, Wall Street doled out $18 billion in bonuses.

Mutual Fund Fees (02:35)

Hiltonsmith was hired by an economic think tank. Upon investigating his 401K, he found most investment returns were going to financial service costs.

401K Hidden Costs (01:11)

The average actively managed mutual fund carries a 1.3% charge—impacting retirement savings plans.

Compound Interest (03:38)

Vanguard founder Jack Bogle explains how mutual fund fees can result in over 50% retirement losses. A J.P. Morgan executive disputes the claim, but Smith confirms the calculation.

Uncovering Retirement Fees (03:42)

Mendez discovered high fees for early withdrawal. Smith investigates broker fees for including mutual funds in 401K plans; individuals shoulder the costs.

Exposing Retirement Fees (02:10)

A Wells Fargo executive says investments are too complex for customers to understand. In 2012, Hiltonsmith's study on hidden mutual fund costs was aired nationally.

Index Funds (01:40)

Bogle promotes index funds as a low cost, low risk retirement investment option. Learn how they mimic a market index and operate without management.

Mutual Fund Myth (01:52)

Despite Wall Street claims, there is no scientific evidence that mutual funds outperform a market index.

Market Volatility (02:30)

A Prudential executive claims ignorance of index funds outperforming mutual funds. Learn how the system is counter intuitive in terms of stock trends.

Unregulated Financial Advice (02:32)

The mutual fund industry urges employees to trust retirement planners, but only 15% are official fiduciary professionals; the rest are brokers maximizing their own returns.

Consumer Rights Issues (02:29)

Interviewees describe being sold annuities with hidden costs. Experts urge individuals to ask financial advisers to sign a fiduciary pledge.

Fiduciary Standard Rule (02:11)

The Department of Labor proposed legislation to protect retirement investment interests. It was withdrawn after the financial industry lobbied against it.

Wall Street Accountability Issues (01:16)

A J.P. Morgan retirement executive claims that fiduciary pledges aren't necessarily in the customer's best interest.

Retirement Scenarios (03:22)

Americans have paid $10 trillion to the financial services industry in hidden investment fees. Program participants share varied outlooks about their future.

Credits: The Retirement Gamble (02:30)

Credits: The Retirement Gamble

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The Retirement Gamble

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Ten trillion dollars in Americans' retirement savings are invested in large and small accounts managed by banks, brokerages, mutual funds, and insurance companies. But whether your IRA or 401K will assure a safe retirement is largely a gamble. Building off reporting from the groundbreaking special Money, Power and Wall Street, FRONTLINE raises troubling questions about how America's financial institutions protect our savings. This film reveals how fees, self-dealing, and kickbacks bring great profits to Wall Street while imperiling the prospects of a secure future for individuals. The film questions who has the consumer's best interests in mind, and whether there is a better way to manage our retirements.

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL58687

Copyright date: ©2013

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.