Washington

Recession-scarred workers now are hungry for advice from financial professionals.

Only 13% of workers say they are feeling very confident about retirement, down from 18% in 2008, and 43% say they are changing the way they invest their money.

But the percentage who say they have started to save money for retirement appears to be increasing.

Researchers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, and Mathew Greenwald & Associates Inc., Washington, have published those findings in EBRI’s 19th annual retirement confidence survey report.

The researchers at EBRI and Mathew Greenwald based the report on telephone interviews with 1,001 U.S. workers ages 25 and older and 256 retirees. The interviews were conducted in January.

The percentage of workers who said they are feeling very confident about retirement has dropped from 27%, and the 2009 percentage is the lowest EBRI has recorded.

The percentage of current retirees who said they very confident about having a financially secure retirement has dropped to 20%, from 29% in 2008 and 41% in 2007, EBRI researchers report.

About 25% of the active workers who have lost confidence in their ability to secure a comfortable retirement said they are saving more money, and 25% said they are seeking advice from financial professionals, EBRI and Greenwald researchers report.

But 81% said they are coping by reducing expenses, and 38% said they are working longer hours or have found a second job.

Fewer workers said they expect to retire before age 65, and the percentage who said they will not retire has increased to 10%, from 6%.

The survey results are consistent with what financial professionals are reporting, according to Dan Houston, president of the retirement division at Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, one of a number of life insurers that helped sponsor the latest retirement confidence survey.

Financial professionals have solidified relationships with employers over the years – increasing the percentage offering qualified retirement plans to 82% today, from 59% in 1996, Houston says.

Now, he says, “advisors could win mind share with a stronger commitment to providing better and perhaps more timely advice to workers.”

When Principal asked workers how they decided what to save for retirement, only 18% said they asked a financial advisor, and 44% said they guessed, Houston says.

Clearly, he says, “there is still room for growth.”

In other survey results, the EBRI and Greenwald researchers found that 77% of workers are somewhat or very confident in banks, and 67% are somewhat or very confident in insurers.

Only 59% are confident in the federal government, and just 37% are confident in investment companies.