Worries about the future of Social Security and Medicare, as well as the experience of the last market crash in 2008-2009 and the housing slump, have left an increasing number of Americans worried about whether they will have adequate resources to provide for their retirement years, which makes them more open to financial advice.

That’s one finding from the latest annual Survey of Worker Attitudes Towards Retirement Savings Needs conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI).

The latest survey found that a majority of current workers in the United States have not even attempted to do a calculation of their likely retirement assets and retirement needs, and thus have no real idea of how much they need to be saving for retirement.

Only 42% of survey respondents reported having attempted to do a retirement needs calculation, with many people saying they just make a guess at what they need to save.  Even 11% of those who say they made a calculation still admitted they had “guessed” at what their savings needs would be.

Among survey respondents, 31% in 2011 reported that they thought they needed to save less than $250,000 for retirement, with another 19% saying they needed between $250,000 and $500,000, and 22% saying they’d need between $500,000 and $1 million. The remaining 28% of the survey respondents said they thought they needed over $1 million for their retirement.

“The percentage of respondents who say they have tried to calculate their retirement needs has stayed around 40% consistently for the last decade,” said Craig Copeland, senior research associate at EBRI and a co-author of the latest study. “What has changed is that over the last two years many more people are not confident that they’ll have adequate savings for retirement.”

Curiously, though, he says that the savings levels people report have not changed, despite the growing sense of insecurity about retirement.

Copeland said that the study’s findings suggest that there is a large and growing untapped market of workers who are probably open to working with a financial adviser to improve their retirement prospects. He notes that only 21% of respondents said they had turned to a financial advisor to help them figure out their retirement and savings needs.

“I think the take-away from this is that there are more people looking for help now who should be receptive to the idea of seeking help from a financial advisor,” he said. “They should be ripe for advice.”

David Lindorff writes for Financial Planning, a SourceMedia publication.

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