In a recently released study, AIG Life & Retirement suggests more individuals than ever are now thinking critically about how future events could affect their finances.
According to the study, “Americans Moving Forward,” more than half of survey respondents say long-term financial planning has become more important (58%) and that they intend to save more (56%) and pay more attention to how they spend and manage their money (55%) than in the past.
AIG says Americans recognize the need to act on creating financial security and protecting against financial uncertainty. Respondents’ top financial priorities include the need to increase or begin saving for retirement (66%), to pay off debt (65%), to start or grow an emergency fund (63%) and to engage in better financial planning (63%).
The study shows that many Americans remain concerned about future uncertainties, pointing to health care costs in retirement (80%), a loss of independence in later life (80%), the availability of Social Security (77%) and running out of money in retirement (74%) as top concerns.
More than nine in 10 (91%) respondents view financial products that provide income for life in retirement as valuable, with 34% saying they are very valuable, AIG says. There is also strong interest in life insurance, with 43% saying it has become more important for them to get or increase life insurance.
Importantly, AIG says, more than two-thirds of respondents (70%) say they want to work with a financial professional in the next year, and 58% of those who already have a financial professional say they intend to work together more closely with that professional moving forward.
“Having a financial professional at your side is essential to building a secure and bright future,” says Terri Fiedler, AIG Financial Distributors president and CEO. “We are proud to work with so many financial professionals who help make it possible for more people to achieve financial and retirement security.”
The study found that women were less likely than men to report recent financial improvement. While 41% of men say their financial situation has improved over the previous year, the same holds true for only 26% of women.
This gender gap extends across several categories, AIG says. This includes retirement readiness, with only 18% of women reporting an improvement, compared with 41% of men. The category of household employment income saw only 24% of women report improvement, compared with 39% of men. Woman who reported improvement in the level of assets/savings clocked in at 28%, compared with 49% of men. Finally, 32% of women, compared with 48% of men, reported improvements in their ability to save.
“Women have made strides to narrow the gender gap in business, education and politics, but financial challenges persist,” Fiedler says. “Our industry must work together to make it possible for more women to achieve financial and retirement security.”
The study finds Millennials are the most optimistic generation. Nearly half of Millennials (48%) say their quality of life is better or much better than it was in the previous year, compared with 38% of Generation X and 22% of Baby Boomers.
When asked about their financial well-being, 42% of Millennials say their financial situation is better or much better than in the previous year, compared with 35% of Gen Xers and only 18% of Baby Boomers.
Millennials are also more likely to report improvement in the following areas:
- Ability to save – 53% for Millennials, 38% for Gen X, 21% for Baby Boomers;
- Career – 50% for Millennials, 36% for Gen X, 10% for Baby Boomers;
- Level of assets/savings – 48% Millennials, 36% Gen X, 26% Baby Boomers;
- Household employment income – 44% Millennials, 31% Gen X, 13% Baby Boomers; and
- Non-mortgage debt – 39% Millennials, 24% Gen X, 12% Baby Boomers.
The AIG Life & Retirement “Americans Moving Forward” survey was completed by Greenwald Research in July and included 1,003 respondents.