Workers Turn to Employers, Advisers for Retirement Help

A new study shows that most workers do not understand their retirement savings plans as well as other employer-provided benefits.

One in three (34%) Americans polled said they have little or no understanding of their retirement plan and three in four (74%) said they have less than a complete understanding, according to a release of results from The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. Employees indicated they had a better understanding of other benefits provided through their employer, such as medical coverage and life insurance.

Where do they turn for guidance? First their employers, and then advisers. One in five (19%) plan participants said they look to their place of employment for guidance on retirement savings matters, followed by financial advisers (15%), spouses (13%), immediate family (12%), the Internet (9%) and program providers (7%). Employers ranked as the top influencer for Baby Boomers (ages 45 to 64) and Gen Xers (ages 30 to 44), while Generation Y (ages 18 to 29) is most likely to be influenced by immediate family.

The Hartford’s research found differences in understanding of retirement benefits by both gender and age. More men (75%) than women (56%) reported they need little direction to understand their retirement benefits. Generation X reported having the best understanding of their retirement plan.

Gender also influences who plan participants turn to for advice.  According to The Hartford, women trust immediate family members and spouses more than men, while men are more likely than women to gravitate to the Internet as a source of information.

“With millions of Americans entering or approaching retirement within the next five to 10 years, it’s critical that we understand how to make the most of our retirement benefits,” said Jamie Ohl, senior vice president of The Hartford’s Retirement Plans Group.  “Although The Hartford places a high priority on educating retirement plan participants, there is more that we and the rest of the industry need to do to promote greater understanding and higher utilization of retirement plans.”


The online survey, conducted by Opinauri in April , polled 1,019 U.S. adults age 18 to 64 (see “Americans Still Fret about Money, Jobs“).