Majority of Investors Feel Confident About Retirement

Seventy-eight percent think they will be comfortable in retirement, up from 69% in 2014.

Seventy-eight percent of investors think they will have enough money to maintain the lifestyle they want in retirement, up from 69% in 2014, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallop Investor and Retirement Optimism Index. In fact, 31% feel highly confident, up from 26%, and those who are not confident has fallen from 31% to 22%.

A big factor that helps people attain this confidence is having a written plan; 43% of those with a written plan are highly confident they are headed towards a comfortable retirement, whereas 23% of those without a written plan feel highly confident.

In step with this, only 36% worry they will outlive their savings, down from 46%. This fear is higher among non-retirees (39%) than those who have reached retirement (28%).

“Although we are experiencing rising account values and optimism, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of a thoughtful strategy and  a written plan not only for saving and investing, but also for drawing down funds in retirement given the complexities of longevity, taxes and when to begin Social Security benefits,” says Joe Ready, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust.

Only 28% of non-retirees have thought about when would be a good time to retire. However, this rises to 39% of those age 50 and older. Among those who have retired, 52% wish they had started thinking about when to retire earlier than they did.

“The actual age you retire is a really important factor in determining your monthly income and how long it will last,” Ready says. “The sooner you start to plan your retirement age, the more you can control while you still have a long runway ahead of you to make adjustments to your strategy.”

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Another potential driver for this improvement in people’s retirement outlook is the fact that the Wells Fargo/Gallop Investor and Retirement Optimism Index is at a 16-year high, having increased 30 points since the fourth quarter of 2016 to 126.

Sixty percent of investors believe now is a good time to invest in the financial markets, up from 52% in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the highest since early 2011. Asked what they would do with their money if their tax bill was decreased, 47% say increase their savings or investments, followed by paying down debt (10%) or making a special purchase (8%).

“It’s especially noteworthy that seven out of 10 would improve their financial health through either saving and investing or paying down debt as a result of a potential tax cut,” Ready says. “Saving and investing enough is the No. 1 factor that will drive retirement outcomes.”

Only 37% of non-retired investors and 40% of retired investors have a written financial plan, on par with the findings of the 2015 survey. However, 48% of investors with $100,000 or more in investments have a written plan, compared to 29% of investors with less than $100,000 in investments.

The Wells Fargo/Gallop Investor and Retirement Optimism Index is based on a telephone survey of 1,007 investors with $10,000 or more in investable assets, conducted in February.