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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Many workers want retirement advice (but say they can’t afford it)

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Picture this scenario: A client prospect walks into your office to seek help, but didn’t tell you what the discussion would be about. If you had to guess the mostly likely reason, which of the following would you flag: (a) how to prepare for retirement; (b) whether to pay off debt before saving for retirement; or (c) should I refinance my mortgage?

If you answered (a), you’d be pretty close to the mark. According to new research, the most frequently cited topic is also retirement-focused, but more specific. More than half of individuals polled in a “2015 LifeCare/FPA Financial Confidence of American Workers Survey” want to know how much money they’ll need to live comfortably in retirement.

“While financial planners who are CFP [certified financial planner] professionals are capable of looking at the entire financial picture of their clients — short and long-term — American workers are thinking more long-term if they were to engage a planner,” the report states. “While housing, saving, paying for college, real estate and other key financial issues are important, they all have a direct impact on how someone plans for their eventual retirement.”

Workers’ retirement worries are mirrored in a related question the report’s authors asked survey participants: What area of your finances do you feel particularly stressed about? Here’s how they answered:

  • Retirement planning (27 percent)

  • Saving and spending (26 percent)

  • Education funding (8 percent)

  • Estate planning (7 percent)

  • Tax planning (7 percent)

  • Company-sponsored retirement plan (3 percent)

Given the urgent need for financial assistance — significant numbers of workers want their employers to offer access to financial advisors (28 percent) or information on financial and retirement planning (38 percent) — it’s not surprising that most of those polled (83 percent) say a financial planner would be helpful to them. Yet more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) aren’t using a planner because they believe they can’t afford one.

Of those American workers who say they haven’t planned for retirement, one-quarter say that retirement is “too far into the future” (24 percent) or that they “don’t know how to begin (9 percent). But the majority (67 percent) point to a more troubling reason: daily expenses.

And what might those be? When asked what affects their budget the most, more than 4 in 10 (41 percent) flag housing costs. That’s followed by:

  • Food and household items (20 percent)

  • Credit card/debt repayment (21 percent)

  • Student loans (6 percent)

  • Transportation/commuting (4 percent)

  • Education/tuition (3 percent); and

  • Financial support for an elder (2 percent)


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