MassMutual is revisiting and reposing survey questions it asked two years ago on Americans’ financial health and well-being. Since 2011, “saving for retirement” has surpassed “keeping up with monthly expenses” as the chief money worry of U.S. workers eligible to participate in an employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plan.
Compared to two years ago, MassMutual says, “the pessimists are more pessimistic and the optimists are more optimistic.” In the new survey, conducted by Brightwork Partners, the percentage of workers who are “very concerned” about losing their jobs is up by four points, and those “not concerned at all” about job security is up by nine points.
Among respondents, 34% think the U.S. will be in a recession in the next 12 months, up from 31% in 2011.
With 24%, “saving enough for retirement” is the biggest financial concern of plan participants, MassMutual says; it is also, by a wide margin, the top saving objective with 63%, beating No. 2 “paying down debt” by 21 points. And people are saving more: 10.5% is the average savings rate for retirement plans, up from 9% two years ago.
Retirement as a major savings objective is 20 points higher among those with a professional financial adviser than those without, and those people are more likely to be men: 31% of male respondents have a personal adviser, compared to 27% of female ones. Men are both more confident than women on retirement saving and more likely to pay attention to factors such as fund performance (30% vs. 22%) and asset allocation (25% vs. 15%).
“The evidence that retirement is on the minds of virtually every American worker is encouraging,” says Merl Baker, principal, Brightwork Partners, of the results, which were released this week. “I'm also pleased to see that participants consider financial professionals an important source of investment information and that, among those who use an adviser, satisfaction is up significantly.”
Indeed, 47% are “very satisfied” with the information from professional advisers, up from 25% in 2011, while satisfaction with information from plan sponsors is down from 30% two years ago to 10% today. The retirement plan provider is still cited as the “most important source of investment information,” but professional advisers have displaced plan sponsors as the second most important source.
Elaine Sarsynski, executive vice president of Mass Mutual’s retirement services division says the data can “help us develop the critical educational resources that financial professionals, plan sponsors and participants need to understand what represents a sufficient level of income in retirement.”
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