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Weight Loss, Travel Beat Boosting Retirement Savings in Poll

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Many Americans, their confidence undermined by a challenging investment environment, are putting other goals ahead of saving for retirement, according to a new poll released Thursday by Capital One Investing.

The study measured current sentiment and behaviors related to investing and retirement of 1,005 American adults interviewed by phone in mid-January.

The survey results showed that 75% of working respondents were contributing a portion of their income to retirement today, down from 80% who reported doing so a year ago.

Sixty-four percent of working respondents, and 61% of millennials, said they were confident they were investing enough to live comfortably throughout retirement, vs. 72% in 2015. But a quarter of workers, and 29% of millennials, said they were investing only 5% or less of their income.

Thirty-nine percent of working respondents thought they should be saving more than 15% of their income, but only 15% said they were doing so.

The survey also found that 39% of working respondents made financial decisions with their spouse or significant other, down from 47% in 2014.

In addition, only 19% of non-retirees said they discussed retirement planning monthly or more often.


The survey found that many investors were putting other goals ahead of adding to their retirement savings in 2016.

Indeed, only 16% of respondents said increasing their retirement savings was their top priority this year.

Instead, 27% cited travel to a new destination as their top goal, and 23% said they most hoped to lose weight.

Among millennials, only 11% said growing their retirement nest egg was their top goal, compared with 31% who were prioritizing travel and 22% who were setting their sights on buying a home.

Baby boomers in the survey were most likely to prioritize retirement savings, but they, too, put weight loss ahead of saving more.


Forty-two percent of respondents complained about industry jargon, saying it kept them from investing with confidence, and 41% blamed a lack of price transparency for their lack of confidence.

Sixty percent of millennials in the poll said lack of investing knowledge or experience undermined their confidence, compared with 47% of their Gen X and 46% of their baby boomer counterparts.

Fifty-six percent of female respondents reported that they felt less confident because of a lack of investing knowledge or experience and 42% because of the complexity of investing.

“The current environment is tough for many investors, with market volatility, uncertainty about the economy and other ongoing challenges and concerns continuing to impede confidence and willingness to invest for the future,” Yvette Butler, president of Capital One Investing, said in a statement.

“It’s critical we get more Americans focused on their financial plans to help build a more stable future.”

Good Old Days

Three-quarters of those polled thought saving for retirement was more challenging for them than it was for their grandparents.

Eight-five percent of millennials had this feeling, as did 72% of Gen Xers and 73% of boomers.

Two-thirds of those who agreed, and 69% of women, thought investing today was more complex and confusing than in earlier periods, and fretted that they could not fall back on Social Security.

More than half said such things as higher costs of investment advice and the lack of pension plans added to these challenges.

In addition, 83% of respondents thought that all companies, regardless of size, should be required to offer their employees retirement savings plans. Planning for the Future

Three-quarters of Americans in the survey recognized the benefits of robo-advised investing platforms, with a third most valuing 24-hour access and a quarter appreciating the ability to manage and control their portfolio independently.

Still, a majority of respondents valued human advice and interactions, with 52% saying they used a financial advisor. And when market fluctuations occur, three-quarters of investors said would prefer to receive advice from a financial advisor, either in-person or by phone or email.

Millennial and Gen X investors surveyed were likelier than other generations to go to a website or use an app for financial planning, and most valued the benefits of robo-advice.

Even so, 31% of millennials questioned the accuracy of investing algorithms, and 30% of Gen Xers considered lack of human oversight a drawback.

Among “self-directed” investors, 39% preferred to work with an advisor to create a portfolio, 36% to rebalance a portfolio and 34% to do financial planning. And when markets are in an uproar, 45% said they wanted financial advice from a financial advisor.

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