Who ‘Owns’ Responsibility for Retirement Readiness?

By ASPPA Net Staff • November 20, 2015 • 0 Comments
A new survey finds that most workers strongly disagree with the statement, “My employer is responsible for providing for my retirement.”

The study, “Investor Mindset: Attitudes, Concerns, Beliefs & Goals,” one of 10 sections of the Hearts & Wallets’ 2015 Investor Quantitative Database, not only finds that 58% of workers strongly disagree with the statement, “My employer is responsible for providing for my retirement,” but that sentiment is higher than the 55% who expressed that sentiment in 2014. More than half (53%) don’t want to leave money in a former employer’s savings plan.

That finding comes despite the reality that, for the second year in a row, Americans feel less confident about their financial situation. Just 13% of responding households say they are “confident, comfortable and secure” about their finances, and only one in three working Americans says their retirement savings are on track. Fewer households believe they are on track in building their retirement nest egg, dropping from 36% in 2014 to 31% in 2015.

As for getting some professional help, 32% “see value” in paying for professional advice. Four in 10 (39%) want to know more about the companies behind their mutual funds, especially ages 28 to 39, up from 30% in 2012 to 44% in 2015.

High(er) Anxiety

One in three households have moderate to high anxiety in 2015, compared with about one in four in 2013. The survey’s authors note that the increase is driven by those with less than $100,000 in investable assets, but that those concerns are up across all income segments.
More than two-thirds wish they were doing a better job saving now. The yearning is especially strong and growing for those with under $100,000 in investable assets and younger investors ages 28 to 52. Almost half of households (45%) describe themselves as very inexperienced investors as compared to about a third (35%) the year before, and 41% are “confused by all the investment information out there.”

So, who is responsible? Well, despite those concerns, Americans are upbeat about wanting to assume responsibility for their own retirement, rather than leaving it to the government or their employers — though that may say more about their lack of confidence in those institutions than confidence in their own abilities.

Top Financial Concerns

The top three concerns in 2015 are the “future of Social Security, “the future of health care in the U.S.” and “setting aside sufficient funds for retirement.” Social Security moved from third to first from 2014 to 2015. Mirroring Social Security concerns was a small but significant dip of 2 percentage points nationally in confidence that Social Security will be a reliable resource of retirement income.

In 2015, the top financial goal for Americans continues to be “build up my emergency fund” (42%) followed by the flexibility to “work less/spend time as I want when I am older” (34%) and “take a vacation” (34%).

Most goals, including wanting to prepare for stopping work completely, which feels like an unattainable goal to many, held steady or decreased slightly in percentage points in 2015. The exception was “buy real estate,” which rose 4 points from last year to 17% in 2015.

This report presents top-level findings from one section of the Hearts & Wallets Investor Quantitative (IQ) Database, with survey data from over 5,000 U.S. households annually.