Retirement Savings Confidence Needs a Boost

Defined contribution (DC) plan participants on both sides of the Atlantic are worried about retirement, according to research from State Street Global Advisors (SSgA).

Under one-third of DC participants in three countries—the U.S., U.K. and Ireland—feel confident they will have enough saved through an employer-sponsored retirement plan to afford the lifestyle they want in retirement. The numbers are: just 31% of U.S. participants, 26% of U.K. participants and 17% of Irish participants expressing confidence in retirement preparedness, according to the “DC Transatlantic Survey” from SSgA.

The results show that DC participants see themselves as savers rather than investors, explains Nigel Aston, managing director and SSgA’s head of DC in the U.K, based in London. “Understanding this mindset is critical for providing the right kind of support to encourage increased contributions in workplace DC plans,” he says. “We’re seeing consistently high levels of discomfort around market volatility, so it is more important than ever to ensure that plans offer investments that address this concern. Default strategies that balance risk and return can help increase the effectiveness of long-term saving efforts.”

Participants still lack investment knowledge, the survey indicated. Only 22% of respondents rate themselves as very or extremely knowledgeable about financial matters such as savings and investments. Lack of financial expertise may explain why just 27% of U.S. participants, 15% of U.K. participants and 10% of Irish participants are willing to take somewhat high-risk or high-risk investments to achieve better returns, Aston says.

“Many of our multinational clients are interested in aligning retirement plans across geographies,” said Fredrik Axsater, managing director and global head of DC at SSgA, based in Boston. “They are looking for research and ideas to help them build the best possible pension plans for their global employee network while operating within a unique regulatory environment specific to their region.”

One in five plan participants seeks help or advice on their employer-sponsored retirement plans from websites, advisers, online tools or their employer. The bulk of respondents in the three countries find retirement planning information from websites, advisers and financial publications most useful, ahead of guidance from the government and their employer.

The survey was conducted by TRC Market Research, on behalf of SSgA, in February and March. Survey respondents included 1,012 participants in the U.S., 1,000 in the U.K. and 150 in Ireland. Respondents were ages 22 to 65, working at least part time, and participating in their employer-sponsored DC plan.

The results of the survey can be found here.