NEW YORK — New research shows that consumers are more nervous about retirement costs- but that active efforts to plan relieve some of the anxiety.
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, (NYSE:HIG) released the survey results during a recent press briefing.
Researchers polled 751 consumers ages 45 and older over the summer.
The speakers who appeared at the press conference included three Hartford executives and Joe Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“People’s confidence surrounding financial security has been severely shaken over the past year,” says Jim Davey, director of the investments and retirement division at Hartford Life. “As a result, they’re returning to the basics, rethinking what’s important to secure their retirement, including the need for professional, financial advice.”
How to fund food, shelter and other basic needs–the dominant concern of survey participants–spiked in 2009 to 65%, said Davey. That contrasts with 50% of survey respondents in 2008 and 24.5% in 2007 who identified meeting daily expenses as their top financial concern in retirement.
More than 31% of the survey participants who said they had planned for retirement reported being “very” or “extremely” confident of having enough income for retirement. Only 10% of the participants who have not planned said they are confident about their retirement income.
About 58% of the active planners said they are on track to retire, compared with 39% of the non-planners.
About 9.6% of the active planners said they know where to go for financial advice, compared with about 42% of the non-planners.
About 19% of all participants said the economic crisis could force them to postpone retirement by 2 years or more.
“People are learning to adapt to the situation they find themselves in as a result of the downturn,” Coughlin said. “They’re engaging in retirement planning not simply because it’s a good and rational thing to do, but also to take control. Planning and taking action is a holistic way of coping and moving forward to be adaptive to a situation.”
Coughlin added, however, that many boomers fail to make time for financial planning because so many other work- and family-related priorities compete for their attention. The increasing “velocity and complexity” of daily life is particularly stressful for working women, he said.
“In order to get people to focus on retirement planning, advisors have to define the need as urgent,” Coughlin said. “And the planning has to be personal: You have to communicate with clients in a way that will get them to take action.”