Data and Research

Americans Lack Financial Planning

Thirty-five percent of Americans have not talked to anyone about retirement, and only 37% define financial planning as a strategy to “…allow me to live comfortably when I get older or retire,” according to a new study.

By Javier Simon | September 14, 2016
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New research by Northwestern Mutual indicates that only 20% of Americans feel “very confident” they would be able to achieve their financial goals, while 32% believe they lack a clear and accurate view of their whole financial picture. Two-thirds said their financial planning needs improvement, the study found.

Northwestern Mutual also found that Americans are “increasingly less confident that their savings will last them through retirement,” with two-thirds saying there is some chance they will outlive their savings. Fourteen percent of respondents said that scenario is definite, while one-third said the outcome has at least a 50% chance.

However, the study found that only 21% of respondents are increasing their savings while 44% are doing nothing to “address the financial implications of living longer.” The firm notes that only 24% of Americans say it’s “extremely likely” that Social Security benefits would exist when they retire, and only 35% expect that Social Security will be their sole or primary source of retirement income compared to 49% of current retirees.

The study also found that Americans value financial planning. When asked which they valued more, 89% of respondents chose “a feeling of comfort from knowing I am financially secure for the long-term,” rather than “cash in hand today.” Still, two in three acknowledged that their financial planning needs improvement. 

Moreover, 45% said they “do not know where to get the help they need as they move through life stages and need different financial solutions.”

The study found that 68% of U.S. adults are not getting professional financial advice. Of those who are getting advice, 43% of respondents say their “advisors don’t feel like long-term partners with a deep knowledge of their complete financial picture.” This is important to note considering the study found that 33% of respondents said they valued a human relationship “above all else” when receiving financial advice, and 55% said the ideal option for getting financial advice will be through a combination of technology and human support. 

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