Attacks Impact Employee Confidence

November 15, 2001 ( - US workers' confidence in their financial well-being is slipping in the wake of September's terrorist attacks, according to The Principal Financial Well-Being Index.

The Index, a survey of more than 1,500 employees of US companies, also highlights the resolve, patience and optimism of US workers.

When asked how the terrorist attacks and market downturn have affected their retirement planning:

  • some 45% of the sample have reviewed or plan to review their strategies in direct response to the events,
  • of the 28% who had already reviewed their strategies, 27% are saving more than they were prior to the attacks,
  • however, 70% did not change the amount they were saving, and 
  • only 3% are saving less

Asset Allocation

In terms of their asset mix, only 21% of those surveyed that have retirement savings have moved their assets from volatile to more stable investments – in response to the terrorist attacks, in comparison to the 28% who moved from equities to bonds in the previous quarter.

According to The Index, US workers have also changed their retirement expectations with:

  • only 3% now planning to retire before age 55, down from 9% a year ago, and 
  • over 15% now planning to retire between ages 55-59, verses only 8% a year ago,
  • a little over 41% plan to retire between ages 65-69, which has remained fairly static over time.

In addition, according to The Index, more people are planning for retirement than in the past. This quarter, only 29% of respondents said they had not yet planned for retirement, down from 34% the previous quarter.


On employee benefits, the index shows that 45% of employees want improvements in their healthcare plan, up significantly from 37% in the previous quarter, while 16% wished for defined contribution plan improvements, down from 18%.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being most important, employee desire for stock options fell this quarter from a rating of 5.2 to 4.2. In addition, only 3% want their company to add stock options as a benefit.

Health insurance remains the most common benefit that growing companies offer their employees, offered by 86% of employers. Defined contribution retirement plans and life insurance tied for second with 67%.


Employees continue to be most satisfied with their defined benefit retirement plans, with an average rating of 7.3 on a scale of 1 to 10, while defined contribution plans received an average rating of 6.8.

The index also revealed that workers are again placing more emphasis on job security. In terms of importance, some 46% of respondents ranked job security first, while two-fifths ranked long-term financial future at the top. In comparison, in the previous quarter, job security and long-term financial future ranked equal in importance by 44% of respondents.