Two studies by different life insurance companies come to strikingly similar conclusions about diverse views on retirement of older Americans.

METLIFE

The MetLife Mature Market Institute, Westport, Conn., an affiliate of MetLife Inc., New York (NYSE:MET), joined with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University to combine results from 50 in-depth interviews with couples and individuals with results of an online poll of about 1,000 residents ages 50 to 70 with $50,000 or more in household income and $100,000 or more in investable assets.

MetLife says people who are planning for retirement can be divided into 10 categories:

  1. Snoozers, who don’t think about future risks at all.
  2. Active resisters, who choose to ignore information about future risks.
  3. Immobilized worriers, who understand the risks, but whose worry prevents them from acting.
  4. Oversleepers, who are late in their thinking and planning for retirement.
  5. Wood knockers, who think about the unexpected but rely on the hope things will “work out.”
  6. Plan B-ers who may have a loose fall-back plan as protection against trouble ahead.
  7. Realists, who use the lessons of experience to think about the future.
  8. Stewers and brewers, who take a while to make decisions.
  9. Compromisers, who balance current needs against future risks.
  10. Preemptive planners, who strive to anticipate future risks.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute found that the average survey participant reported spending 15 hours in the previous 6 months on gathering information or planning for retirement, but about 20% reported spending no time on retirement planning.

ALLIANZ LIFE

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Golden Valley, Minn., a unit of Allianz S.E., Munich, Germany, polled about 3,200 baby boomers and U.S. residents ages 44 to 75 with a minimum household income of $30,000.

Allianz Life used the results to come up with 5 different

retirement planning personality types:

  1. Overwhelmed (32% of respondents): Those who felt unprepared for retirement and lacked confidence in their ability to put together a strategy for their financial needs in retirement. They had the highest level of credit card debt and low asset levels.
  2. Resilient (27%): A pragmatic group hit hard psychologically during the recession but who now see the need for better planning. They are most concerned with outliving their income and realize they may have to work longer than expected to achieve retirement goals.
  3. Iconic (20%): Retired Americans who have worked hard and lived within their means. They’re middle class, live mostly on a pension, and are disciplined and traditional in their viewpoints and values.
  4. Savvy (14%): Financially sophisticated, affluent boomers who are living comfortably in retirement, are financially independent and are comfortable taking risks.
  5. Distracted (7%): The youngest of the consumers included in the survey, they tend not to focus on planning for retirement. They have the highest income of any segment and tend to spend freely-with family and home expenditures taking priority over saving for retirement.