Retirement Planners Make for Better Retirement Savers

Research from The Hartford found that people who have taken the time to plan for retirement or their financial future are in a better place financially and have a more positive outlook about their retirement future.

The survey of men and women ages 45 and older found that those who have planned for retirement are three times more likely to be confident that they will have sufficient income in retirement as compared to those who haven’t planned. Nearly one-third (31.5%) of those who had planned reported being “very” or “extremely” confident of having sufficient income for retirement, as compared to 10% for those who had not planned.

There is an obvious link between planning habits and access to an adviser. Those who described themselves as planners were also three times more likely to rely on an independent expert for financial advice compared to non-planners (about 40% vs. about 13%), according to the study. Of those who did not plan, 42.5% said they were unsure about where to get financial advice, compared to less than 10% of planners.

Affluence also makes a big difference when it comes to access to financial planning, the study noted. Of respondents earning $100,000 or more annually, more than three-fourths had planned, compared to 65% of those who earned $50,000 to $99,999, and about 40% of those who earned less than $50,000.

Whether they work with a financial adviser, most respondents don’t look at their retirement plan often. The most common answer was once a year (about 24%), followed by every quarter (18%), and never (about 17%). The majority of all respondents at least somewhat agree that they would like to spend more time on retirement and financial planning.

If they could turn back time, many respondents would have started saving sooner (about 43%) and would have saved more money (about 26%). Planners were slightly more likely to say they would have saved more money and non-planners were more likely to say they would have started saving earlier.

Retirement Concerns   

Keeping up with daily expenses for basic needs continues to be the top retirement concern for respondents, spiking again in 2009 to about 65% of respondents—up from about 50% in 2008 and about 25% in 2007, according to the Hartford survey.

Furthermore, nearly a third of all respondents said they have no idea as to when they will be able to retire and almost a fifth indicated they will have to postpone retirement for up to two years or more.

“The financial turmoil of the past few years has taken a huge toll on America’s confidence about the future and apparent readiness for retirement,” said Jamie Ohl, senior vice president and director of The Hartford’s Retirement Plans Group. “Increasingly, people fear they may face serious financial issues in retirement and are therefore uncertain about when or even if they can retire.”

The respondents with a plan were more likely to know how much income they would need in retirement (about 61% were “certain” or “nearly certain,” compared to about 23% of non-planners). However, few people are really certain about how much income they will need in retirement (about 56% are unsure or have no idea).

Planners are also more likely to feel on track with their target retirement date, despite the market downturn. More than half (about 58%) of planners said they were on target to retire as planned, compared to about 39% of non-planners.

“The Hartford’s research demonstrates definitively that now more than ever, it’s critical to work with a financial planner or financial adviser to prepare for the future, especially when it comes to retirement,” said John Diehl, a certified financial planner and senior vice president with The Hartford’s Investment and Retirement Products Division.

The Hartford Investments and Retirement Survey polled 751 consumers.