Highly effective investors are twice as likely as other Americans to be confident they are making the right savings and investing decisions. They are also twice as likely to say they enjoy managing their investments. And they have more than 2.5 times the retirement savings of other Americans.

So concludes the investment management firm BlackRock in its 2nd annual “BlackRock Global Investor Pulse Survey” of 27,500 people worldwide. Findings respecting U.S. investors are based on interviews with 4,000 Americans, ages 25 to 74.

The report identifies 7 key habits of highly effective investors. They:

  • Regularly review finances
  • Spend time to get informed
  • Seek financial advice
  • Manage debt
  • Prioritize saving for retirement
  • Diversify their portfolios; and
  • Plan for big moments.

The report adds that Americans identify saving for retirement as their number two priority, right behind the more general “saving money.” For affluent Americans (those with more than $250,000 in investable assets), saving for retirement is their most important priority.

Despite the U.S. economic recovery in the years following the Great Recession, many Americans haven’t experienced an improvement in their own financial well being. Lacking confidence in their ability to fund retirement needs, they are deferring financial decisions and planning.

“When looking at what American pre-retirees have saved for retirement compared to the annual retirement income they say they want, they only have enough to fully fund less than three years of retirement,” the report states. “Looking specifically at affluent pre-retirees, they only have enough to last less than seven years for a retirement that could last 20–30 years.”

The infographics starting on page 2 recap highlights from the report. 

The report indicates that highly effective investors are active learners who invest the time to manage their money and build their financial knowledge. Most use financial professionals to help craft a good financial plan and the right portfolio.

 

Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of Americans (58 percent of affluent Americans) are concerned they will not be able to live comfortably in their retirement. Among Millennials, the proportion is 76 percent.

Also, more than half of Americans, regardless of wealth, are concerned about outliving their savings. And almost two-thirds of all Americans (including 62 percent of affluent Americans) say Social Security will be critical to their ability to support themselves in retirement.

 

The report identifies inadequate earnings, the high cost of living and unplanned expenses as obstacles to planning for retirement. Not surprisingly, affluent Americans less often have difficulty balancing both the cost of living and saving for retirement. 

 

Just 59 percent of Americans (61 percent of Millennials) have started saving for retirement through an employer-sponsored or individual retirement savings plan. More than nine in 10 affluent Americans (91 percent) are saving for retirement.

 

 

Americans are squeezed by household costs, with 42 percent of their take-home pay spent on essential expenses, such as mortgage, rent, utilities and the like. Compared to the global average, the U.S. percentage is particularly high, leaving less for everything else and reducing Americans’ ability to save and invest.