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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Retirement Plan Participants Need Professional Advice: Survey

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Participants in defined contribution plans want a lot more than simply the ability to save for retirement through a variety of investment options, according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

Although the survey found that 92% of respondents are satisfied with their plan, 70% of non-retiree participants are interested in getting advice on how to optimize their Social Security benefits in retirement and roughly six in 10 would like advice on developing a retirement income plan as well as the ability to customize target date funds to the exact year they plan to retire.

(Related:  Boomers With Advisors, Annuities Are More Retirement-Ready: IRI)

In addition, about 40% of non-retirees want advice for all their assets, not just their 401(k) plan assets, and for asset allocation as well as automatic rebalancing of assets.

“As the 401(k) plan is the most common way for people to save and invest for retirement, it makes sense that people would like to access more extensive retirement-planning features, such as advice that factors all of their assets into their retirement income estimates and asset allocation strategy,” said Joe Ready, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, in a statement. “That’s the next step in the retirement industry — to help participants get the answers they need to their complex retirement income and distribution questions.”

Plan participants could use the help. Nearly one-quarter of current retirees, whose average age at retirement was 62, reported that they had retired earlier than they would have liked and many were surprised by the high costs they’ve encountered in retirement.

(Related: Americans’ Retirement Preparedness on Upswing: Fidelity)

Thirty-seven percent said their total health care costs are higher than they expected; only 9% said they were lower than expected. In addition, about one-quarter of retirees said their daily living and taxes were more expensive than they had anticipated.

In the meantime, few non-retirees have done the research necessary to make informed decisions about retirement savings. Only 20% of non-retirees report having done the detailed calculations to determine how much income they’ll need in retirement and how much money their retirement accounts will potentially generate. In addition, just 11% have calculated the taxes they will have to pay.

“Information is power when it comes to retirement,” said Ready. “Doing the detailed planning to calculate projected income and taxes pays off in helping to provide confidence — because investors then know what to prepare for.”

Overall, the survey found that investors are relatively optimistic about the current investment climate, though retirees are more optimistic than current workers. They scored a +155 on the optimism scale compared with 134 for non-retirees. For perspective, the index began in October 1996 at +124 and peaked at +178 in January 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom.

The survey’s findings are based on telephone interviews with 1,321 investors, age 18 and older, with total savings and investments of $10,000 or more. Seventy-one percent of respondents were non-retirees with a median age of 47, and 29% had already retired, with a median age of 69. Almost two-thirds reported incomes above $90,000, and slightly more than one-third had incomes below $90,000.

— Check out Older Pre-Retirees Worry a Lot About Social Security: Gallup on ThinkAdvisor.


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