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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Retirement preparedness unchanged since 2011

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The percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement is unchanged from record lows observed in 2011, according to new research.

The Employee Benefits Research Institute, Washington, discloses this finding in its “2013 Retirement Confidence Survey: Perceived Savings Needs Outpaced Reality for Many.” Based on telephone interviews with 1,254 individuals (1,003 workers and 251 retirees) ages 25 and older in the U.S., the survey gauges the views and attitudes of working-age and retired Americans regarding retirement, their preparations for retirement, their confidence with regard to retirement and related issues.

Half of the workers surveyed express some level of confidence in their ability to retire, with 13 percent very confident and 38 percent somewhat confident. An additional 28 percent are not at all confident (up from 23 percent in 2012) and 21 percent are not too confident.

When asked how much they believe they will need to save to achieve a financially secure retirement, 20 percent say they need to save between 20 and 29 percent of their income each year. And nearly one-quarter (23 percent) indicate they need to save 30 percent or more.

However, only 46 percent report they and/or their spouse have tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved by the time they retire so they can live comfortably in retirement.

Additionally, just 23 percent of workers and 28 percent of retirees surveyed report they have obtained investment advice from a professional financial advisor who was paid through fees or commissions. Of these workers, 27 percent followed all of the advice, but more disregarded some and followed most (41 percent) or some (27 percent) of the advice.

The report reveals also that 63 percent of workers report they and/or their spouse have saved for retirement. But just over a quarter of these workers (28 percent) say they have less than $1,000 in savings. In total, 57 percent report that the total value of their household savings and investments, excluding the value of their primary home and any defined benefit plans, is less than $25,000.

When asked to name the most pressing financial issue facing Americans today, both workers and retirees are most likely to identify job uncertainty (30 percent of workers and 27 percent of retirees) and making ends meet (12 percent each). Just two percent of workers and four percent of retirees identify saving or planning for retirement as the most pressing financial issue.

Worker confidence in the affordability of retirement continues to decline. The survey observes an increase in the percentage of workers who are not confident in their ability to pay for basic expenses (16 percent, up from 12 percent in 2011, but statistically equivalent to 13 percent in 2012), medical expenses (29 percent, up from 24 percent in 2012) and long-term care expenses (39 percent, up from 34 percent in 2012).

Cost of living and day-to-day expenses head the list of reasons why workers do not contribute (or contribute more) to their employer’s plan, with 41 percent of eligible workers citing these factors. Just 19 percent of the respondents indicate they would cancel the contribution if enrolled at a three percent deferral rate, while 29 percent would cancel at a 6 percent deferral rate. The survey notes that reaction is “mixed” to a proposal requiring that half the balance in an employer-sponsored retirement saving plan be automatically converted to an annuity at retirement. Thirty percent of plan participants would strongly oppose the proposal, and an additional 16 percent would somewhat oppose it. Just over one in ten (11 percent) would strongly favor the proposal and 35 percent would somewhat favor it.


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