Nearly Half of Adults Are Not Saving for Retirement

Respondents to research by the CFP Board and Morning Consult described saving for retirement with the words "overwhelming," "complicated," "impossible" and "confusing."

Nearly half, 48%, of adults are not saving anything for retirement, according to a new report from the CFP Board and Morning Consult. Among those that are saving, 62% contribute to a 401(k) and 53% to a savings account. Fifty percent of adults think that saving for retirement is straightforward, but 26% think it is too complicated.

Given words to describe retirement saving, 49% of adults said “essential,” 33% “overwhelming,” and 25% “complicated.” Those between the ages of 18 and 44 are more likely to say that saving for retirement is too complicated. Only 11% described saving for retirement as “easy,” but 15% said it is “impossible” and 16% said “confusing.”

Fifty-five percent of adults say they are satisfied with the retirement savings plans available to them, but only 38% work at a company that offers a retirement savings plan. However, 30% don’t know if their company offers such a plan.

Sixty-seven percent of adults are not working with a financial professional. Among those, 54% said they would benefit from receiving retirement saving advice (19% definitely and 35% maybe). This percentage rises among those between the ages of 18 and 44.

Asked why they are not working with a financial professional, they cite the following reasons: “cost,” “don’t make enough money to save,” “don’t know where to start or who to speak to” and “think they can do it themselves.”

Among those who are working with a financial professional, 50% are working with a financial planner, 41% with an investment adviser, 22% with their bank, 11% with a securities broker and 8% with an insurance salesperson.

Among those who are receiving retirement advice, 88% said they have benefitted from this service (60% definitely and 28% maybe).

Among those who are saving for retirement, 39% started in their 20s, 26% in their 30s, 15% in their 40s, 6% in their 50s and 2% in their 60s. Eight percent started saving for retirement when they were younger than 20. The likelihood of saving for retirement in one’s 20s rises with income level.

Forty-nine percent of adults think people should start saving for retirement in their 20s, and 21% think they should start in their teens. Seventeen percent think the right time is in one’s 30s, 5% in one’s 40s and 2% each for one’s 50s and one’s 60s.

“With so many Americans getting a late start on retirement savings, the odds are high that they will be unprepared to maintain the lifestyle they’re accustomed to living,” says Kevin Keller, CEO of the CFP Board. “Americans know how important it is to save for retirement, but the truth is more than a third of those surveyed are overwhelmed by the process, and, critically, many do not know what products and resources are available to them. It’s time for Congress, the Administration and other stakeholders, including the CFP Board, to come together to develop new solutions to meet the retirement crisis that we will inevitably face.”

The online poll was conducted in April among 2,200 adults.