Written Financial Plan for Retirement Boosts Confidence

Fifty-eight percent of investors say they have “little” to “no” control over their ability to build retirement savings. 

This statistic is down from 65% six months ago, according to the February Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

While the poll results suggest younger Americans see retirement saving as the individual’s responsibility, few have created written retirement plans. Three out of 10 (31%) of the non-retired respondents and just more than a third (38%) of those retired said they have a “written” plan for retirement.  

In February 2011, 24% of the non-retired attested to having a written retirement plan. Of the non-retired who do have a written plan, 66% said they have either a “great deal” or “a lot of confidence” they “have a good estimate of the money needed to live comfortably” in retirement, versus 38% of those who do not have a written plan or any plan at all. Among those with a written financial plan, 83% of non-retired and 80% of retired feel having a financial plan with specific financial goals or targets gives them confidence they can achieve their future goals.  

Similar to the May and September 2011 results, the February 2012 poll found significant differences between how today’s retired Americans are funding their retirements and how those yet to retire expect to do so. Today’s retirees are more likely to depend on employer-sponsored pensions and Social Security, while future retirees expect to rely on their own savings.  

Seven in 10 of the non-retired said their 401(k) will be a major source of retirement funding for them, compared with 33% of the retired. Thirty-two percent of the non-retired expect pensions to be a major funding source for retirement, compared with 48% of retirees. Thirty- three percent of the non-retired call stock investments a “major source” for funding their retirement as compared with 31% of the retired.  


Of the non-retired, more than a third (37%) say they are putting more away for retirement; 51% say they are putting away the same and 11% say they are putting away less. These percentages are unchanged from 2011.

Other findings of the February Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index include: 

  •  Forty percent of investors say increases in their health care premiums have “reduced” their ability to save and invest for retirement; 
  •  Fifty-four percent of investors think their children will be “better prepared financially for retirement” when they are the same age, as compared with 43% who think their children will not be better prepared;  
  • In general, 34% of investors say they have been saving and investing more money than they did prior to the recession in 2008, while 31% say they have been saving less money and 34% say the same amount of money. Of those saving and investing more money, 85% say this is part of a new normal saving and investing pattern. In contrast, just 12% say it is a temporary change; 
  • Almost half (49%) of investors expect their income to increase over the next 12 months. Fifty-two percent say they will use the added income to increase their savings and investments, 36% will use it to reduce debt and 11% will use it to maintain their spending; and 
  • Of the 58% of investors expecting to get a tax refund, 40% say they will use it to increase their savings and investments, 36% say they will use it to reduce debt and 24% they will use it to maintain their spending. 

The poll was conducted February 3 to 12, 2012, among 1,022 investors randomly selected from across the country.