Savers Worry They Will Outlive Retirement Nest Egg

July 25, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Only about one in six people (16%) worldwide is confident their current level of savings is sufficient to cover their financial needs after retirement, a survey found.

Accenture found more than half of respondents do not know how to prepare for retirement, while nearly half turn to friends and family for retirement advice before life insurers and banks.

More than four out of five people (82%) are concerned about their financial situation after retirement and almost nine in 10 (89%) say it is important to start saving now.

The survey also reveals that more than half (53%) of the respondents believe they lack the necessary information to prepare for retirement and the financial capacity (57%) to invest in private pension.

While a large majority (93%) recognize that they will need to rely partly or wholly on their personal savings to cover their post-retirement financial needs, more than two-thirds (67%) do not know how much they need to save to guarantee their standard of living in retirement.

Less than one-third (29%) have private investments aimed specifically at addressing their retirement needs (in addition to any employer or public pension funds from which they may benefit).

“The strong common global concerns about post-retirement financial security are alarming,” said Mark A. Halverson, a managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services group. “In the current economic environment, people are increasingly worried about their financial future. They are willing to save money but have limited financial knowledge and limited saving abilities to actually do so. These findings reveal a major unmet demand for retirement planning that industry professionals can help address.”

People often do not use professional advisers, such as life insurers, for information and advice on retirement investments. They are more likely to ask independent financial advisers (51%) and friends and family (44%) for advice on the best retirement options than to rely on insurers (41%) and banks (39%).

The majority (86%) say they have limited or no knowledge of retirement products offered by life insurers.

Almost half (45%) say they have never received simple, comprehensible retirement planning information from any life insurer, and one-fifth (20%) state they have never been contacted by any life insurer to discuss retirement issues.

"[Life insurers] need to do a better job of educating and relating to their current and potential customers and seeking new interactive ways to provide them with the advice people ultimately need: how to arrange their finances to make these products affordable,” said Halverson. “They will have to create simple, cost-effective retirement products—ideally, with the ability for customers to switch products if their circumstances change or they find they have chosen the wrong one."

Eighty-six percent say they would purchase a retirement product from a provider that offers them clear comparisons of several investment options, highlighting the pros and cons, while 82% want a clear understanding of what their financial needs would be after retirement and a clear illustration of projected financial value of each investment option.

Sentiment toward retirement varies geographically. Compared with the global average of 82%, Britons, Germans, Australians and Americans are the most optimistic, with 65%, 66%, 69% and 70% of respondents, respectively, who say they are worried about their financial situation after retirement. South Koreans (95%), Mexicans (92%), Russians (92%) and Spanish (91%) are the most pessimistic.

Indians, Chinese and Americans are the most confident about their current level of savings with 39%, 28%, 21%, respectively, believing that they are sufficiently saving for retirement, compared with the global average of 16%. Russians (4%), Japanese (5%) and South Koreans (8%) are the least confident.

Accenture commissioned the survey, which polled, by phone, 8,112 individuals between ages 25 and 60 in 15 countries in March.

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