The majority of Americans say they want and need income replacement projections for financing their retirement, but most do not have access to the data nor an understanding of how to translate their 401(k) savings into a stream of retirement income, according to new research. 

A recently released white paper from J.P. Morgan, "Searching for Certainty," details the findings of an online survey conducted with over 1,000 individuals with 401(k) plans nationwide. J.P. Morgan found that participants wrestling with how to make their savings last through retirement were often completely in the dark.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said that they will need to know how much of their pre-retirement salary they can replace, yet almost one quarter (22 percent) aren't even sure what they are on track to receive after they stop working. Overall, only 40 percent of respondents even feel comfortable that they will be able to reach their financial goals in retirement. 

Americans are also dangerously underestimating how much money they will need in retirement. Among respondents who had a target retirement income replacement level in mind, nearly half (45 percent) thought they would need less than 75 percent of their pre-retirement salary level. However, extensive J.P. Morgan research shows that a minimum guideline for successful retirement income is a replacement ratio of at least 70 percent or more.

“On the positive side, some 91 percent of participants agreed that they were personally responsible for their own financial futures,” said Diane Gallagher, vice president of product development, J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services. “However, there’s still a significant gap between acknowledging responsibility and acting upon it.”

The survey found that two-thirds of respondents admitted that they don’t even know how much they should be saving for retirement. Nearly half of the respondents said they are scared that they will outlive their retirement savings. Of the participants who said they would need 75 percent to 100 percent of their pre-retirement salary after they stop working, less than a third even had enough savings to provide this income.

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