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Survey Probes Financial Worries

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Getting ready to retire and managing income after retirement and managing income are among the top financial concerns of Americans, according to a new survey report.

The 2009 National Consumer Survey on Personal Finance conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., Washington, found of more than 1,700 consumers surveyed, 51% said building a retirement fund was one of their most important financial concerns. Managing retirement income was cited by 40% as a top concern.

Other pressing issues were generating income (59%), providing health insurance coverage (55%) and managing or reducing current debt (53%).

Despite these concerns, 64% of households did not have a written financial plan, the CFP Board’s survey found. Just 17% said they had a written plan and update the plan regularly.

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Among those consumers who have developed a written plan without the help of a financial professional, 48% said they benefitted from the plan. Among consumers who used the services of a financial adviser to develop their plan, 65% said a written plan is beneficial.

The goals that motivated consumers to seek professional assistance varied by respondents’ income level, CFP Board found. Among those making $50,000 or less a year, savings was the most frequently cited financial planning need, while among those earning $50,000 to $100,000 a year, retirement planning was cited by 48% and savings goals was cited by 47%.

Respondents who did not have a written financial plan cited a number of reasons for not preparing one, including: their finances were not that complicated; the expense of engaging a financial professional; they do their own financial planning informally; they get along fine without a financial plan; and confusion over the qualifications of financial intermediaries.