Americans Worry about Retirement Savings

Although many polled Americans express anxiety about retirement, more than four in 10 do not work with an adviser, a Bank of America (BoA) survey found.

Some 23% of respondents in the survey, conducted in November, said the financial issue most keeping them up at night was the impact of the market downturn on their retirement savings.

While 68% of those with at least one retirement account have not dipped into it for emergency cash, recent economic conditions have caused 18% to withdraw assets prematurely, according to a news release of the results. The leading reasons: credit card debt (26%), mortgage payments (22%), and recent job loss (22%). The Principal Financial Well-Being Index reported earlier this week that 10% are dipping into savings (see “Most Workers Not Touching Their Retirement Savings“).

Some 62% of respondents from the general public and 44% from the affluent American population said they were either behind schedule or had not started their retirement planning efforts. In fact, 59% of the general public and more than half (52%) of affluent Americans do not know or do not have a good idea of how much they will need to save to maintain their current standard of living in retirement, according to the poll.

The survey found nearly half (47%) of retired Americans do not believe, or are unsure if, their retirement assets will cover their financial needs throughout their lifetime. In light of recent economic turbulence, many Americans (43%) say believe they now face more years in the workforce than they expected to a year ago. More than one-third (36%) of affluent respondents said current economic conditions have pushed back their expected retirement age.

One-quarter (25%) of the general public and one-third (33%) of affluent Americans have at least one 401(k) or 403(b) plan with a former employer. Of those who have a plan with a former employer, nearly half (48% general public, 46% affluent) intend to keep their assets in the existing plan.

On a related issue, 60% of Americans are spending less than they were three months ago as a result of the current economic climate, the poll found. However, even with this decreased spending, more than half (51%) of the general public and 40% of affluent Americans are also saving less than they were three months ago—with approximately one in five saying they are saving “much less.”

The survey, conducted by Braun Research, sampled the general public (750) and affluent Americans (250), identified as individuals with investable assets between $100,000 and $3 million.