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Retirement study: Are your clients 'preemptive planners'?

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Though Americans may be planning for retirement, many are not financially prepared for unexpected events, according to a new study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

Through the study, “Best-Case Strategies for a Flexible Retirement: The MetLife Study of Thinking About Retirement in Uncertain Times,” MetLife and the Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center indentified 10 types of planners, with “preemptive planners” as those most prepared for unanticipated events or expenses, such as having to retire early because of health issues, health care costs or the loss of a job. The 10 types are:

  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 future risks but whose worry prevents them from acting.
  4. Over sleepers who are late in their thinking and planning and may regard their chance to act as “come and gone.”
  5. Wood knockers who think about the unexpected but rely on hope. Somehow, things will “work out.”
  6. Plan B’ers who hold on to a contingency plan or the loose idea of one as a protection against trouble ahead.
  7. Realists who use the lessons of past experience to think about the future.
  8. Stewers and brewers who take a while to make decisions. Stewers may fuss and fret while brewers play with ideas and planning strategies.
  9. Compromisers who think about both today and tomorrow and balance their current needs against future risks.
  10. Preemptive planners who strive to preempt future risks or at least their consequences.

The good news is it isn’t too late for those who have not yet planned. Kathryn B. McGrew, Ph.D., associate professor at Scripps says, “While there is no universal approach to retirement, it would be helpful for those who find themselves in one of the less desirable categories to work on their plans with their partners, families and/or trusted financial advisors.”

Other findings are:

  • On average, survey respondents say they spent 15 hours in the past six months researching or planning for retirement and one in five spent no time planning.
  • Among respondents, saving was the most common thing they would do differently: 29 percent said they would start saving earlier, 12 percent say they would save or invest more and 4 percent said they would make better investments.
  • Only 20 percent report they are very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably if they or their spouse or partner live to 85 years or longer. Fifty-eight percent are only somewhat confident. The last 22 percent are not confident in their retirement security.
  • Sixty-eight percent of those who did feel at least somewhat confident gave a guaranteed stream of income as the reason for their confidence, followed by 51 percent who identified sufficient savings as contributing to their confidence.

The study’s recommendation is for more Americans to become preemptive planners: one who thinks about the future, anticipates the unexpected, sets and lives by personal finance rules, gathers information and takes action.

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute. For more information, please visit: