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Military members more confident about retirement than rest of population

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The retirement panic hasn’t swept across the military nearly as much as the civilian population. Almost half of all U.S. service members say they are confident about their ability to retire comfortably. What’s more, findings from The Military Financial Confidence Survey (MFCS), conducted by the FINRA Foundation in cooperation with the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Mathew Greenwald & Associates, show they are almost twice as likely as civilians to seek out an independent financial advisor.

Perhaps it’s the more disciplined lifestyle, but U.S. service members are also less likely to subscribe to attitudes that may falsely increase retirement confidence – they agree more that they lifestyle adjustments to prepare for a shortfall in savings, and unlike 44 percent of civilians, 28 percent agree they may not live long enough to use all of their retirement savings.

Almost 30 percent of service members say their most immediate financial problem is paying down debt, followed closely with 25 percent saying saving for retirement is the most pressing. Eighteen percent are concerned with not being able to make ends meet.

Sponsors of the survey emphasize that with only 22 percent of service members aware of the Thrift Savings Plan (the government’s equivalent of a 401(k) plan), now is the time for advisors to reinforce retirement income options available.

“This survey highlights the incredible importance of giving our men and women in uniform the educational tools they need to prepare for their retirements,” said John Gannon, president of the FINRA Foundation, in a prepared statment. “The fact that over one-in-five servicemembers are unaware of the TSP, the retirement savings vehicle available to every servicemember, underscores the need to help them take advantage of every opportunity to save for a comfortable retirement.”

Unlike civilian workers coping with the economic crisis, service members won’t be anticipating having to work past retirement age; the survey found they are five times more likely to retire on or before age 55. Service members are eligible for retirement pay after 20 years, and 60 percent believe they will be in the military for at least that amount of time.