Affluent Investors Cite Incentives for Retirement Saving

Thirty-eight percent of affluent investors responding to Merrill Lynch's Affluent Insights Survey said a less volatile stock market would encourage them to start saving more for retirement.  

Other incentives to save more for retirement include: 

  • Improvement in the job market (37%);
  • More international economic stability (32%);
  • A change in U.S. political leadership (31%);
  • Better incentives from the government, such as raising 401(k) contribution limits or other tax incentives for long-term saving and investing (31%); and
  • Greater incentives from their employer, such as implementing or increasing a 401(k) match (22%).


Many respondents are also trying to pay down debt while saving for retirement. Among the majority of affluent investors with some level of debt (i.e. mortgage, car payment, credit cards, etc.), one-third (32%) paid down a portion of their overall debt in 2011, while 36% expect their level of debt to decrease in 2012.

Other findings in the survey indicate that 73% of affluent investors are highly concerned about the presidential election. Among their other top concerns in 2012 are issues likely to be heavily debated leading up to the election, including the rising cost of health care (79%), our nation’s budget deficit (76%), the lingering unemployment rate (73%) and the potential for rising tax rates (65%).

“As the nation emerges from the financial crisis, policymakers bear a disproportionate role in helping to resolve several issues and, as a result, could have a significant impact on volatility in the capital markets,” said Lisa Shalett, chief investment officer for Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.

Complete findings from this survey will be released next month, but initial results show that additional national and global concerns for 2012 include:  

  •  The future of Social Security benefits (68%) (Women: 76%, Men: 59%);
  •  Our nation’s political standing in the world (64%); 
  •  Preserving existing tax benefits within retirement savings plans (62%); and 
  •  The European financial crisis (61%).