Employees Report Stress over Financial Benefit Decisions

August 20, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Ameriprise Financial's most recent research, The 2007 Ameriprise Workplace Financial Planning Benefit Decisions study, recorded increased stress among U.S. workers in every category measured, with the highest stress factors saving for retirement and paying for health care in retirement.

A significant problem is that workers seem unable to come up with strategies for facing rising out-of-pocket health care costs while maintaining their level of retirement saving. According to an Ameriprise press release, the study found that while 61% of respondents said reducing discretionary spending was a method used for dealing with rising benefit costs, almost half (46%) said they would decrease overall saving and investing.

More than 40% of workers reported an impact on their financial health and stress levels related to increases in their health care insurance costs and 44% said increasing benefit costs will impact their ability to fund retirement and other financial goals.

According to the study, less than one in five workers have a written, professionally prepared and paid-for financial plan, and those without a financial plan are more likely to cut back on their saving and investments in company-sponsored plans when confronted with increases in out-of-pocket benefit expenses. Of those employees facing one or more benefit cost increases, 54% of those without a financial plan said they would reduce their retirement savings level, compared with 46% of those with a financial plan, the release said.

Ameriprise found the employees surveyed would like their employer to provide financial planning assistance. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said a financial plan that directly addressed their workplace benefit costs and contingent financial decisions would be helpful, and 70% would be moderately or very interested in one-on-one financial planning if offered through their employer.

In addition, 87% of survey respondents expressed they believe a financial planning benefit would make them feel their employer recognizes and values their effort in the workplace.

For the research, a telephone study among 617 consumers was completed. Respondents included those with access to employer sponsored health insurance and enrollment in (or eligibility for a 401(k) plan.

A survey report is at http://www.plansponsor.com/uploadfiles/Ameriprisestudy2007.pdf .