Although most Americans feel financially secure for the near future, they feel less
optimistic about long-term planning, according to a recent survey by
Less than half (48%) say the American Dream is attainable today,
a drop from 58% reported in 2009, when the firm conducted its first
survey in this area.
"It appears we're at a financial flashpoint in
America," suggests Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning at Northwestern Mutual. "In
the near-term, people clearly feel a little better about the stability of the
U.S. economy. At the same time, there's a drop in longer-term optimism around
the attainability of the American Dream. Combined, it's a mix of
improvement in the moment with uncertainty about the future."
The majority (67%) of respondents fear a financial crisis
will loom soon, suggesting advisers may want to more aggressively urge clients to save, with the understanding that they cannot control market volatility or “invest their way out of the retirement problem.” Only 41% said their long-term strategy has a
mix of high and low-risk investments. According to the survey, 28% of Americans feel some level of financial insecurity, while 11% said they were not
secure at all.
Still, the survey did elicit some positive responses. Most
Americans (72%) feel financially secure at least for the short term.
Forty-three percent say the economy will be better this year than it was in
"The hope here is that Americans aren't letting their
financial guard down," says Barsch. "It's easy to have a short
memory when it comes to financial discipline, but long-term risk management is
not something to do in starts and stops. You need to plan for what can go right
as well as what can go wrong, and it has to be consistent—throughout market
and economic cycles, and over the course of a lifetime."
The full report can be found at NorthwesternMutual.com.