MOST AMERICANS NOT READY FOR RETIREMENT

San Francisco - The recession has not prompted many people to change their behavior and start saving more for retirement, according to a new survey.

The quarterly survey by Charles Schwab found that many Americans are neither financially nor emotionally ready for retirement, even as they approach retirement age. Almost four in 10 Americans (39 percent) are not currently saving for retirement and, despite market losses, six in 10 Americans (62 percent) have not adjusted their thinking about what age they will retire - nearly unchanged from Schwab's first quarterly retirement pulse survey in September 2008, months before the recession was officially declared.

Survey respondents estimate they will need just over $1.2 million to comfortably retire, yet those currently saving for retirement have put away an average of $194,000. Despite this awareness, 41 percent of Americans feel positively about their retirement preparedness and another 22 percent feel indifferent.

A deeper look at those closest to retirement (ages 55-63) shows a gap between planning and reality, as 30 percent used "contentment" to describe their retirement preparedness, despite insufficient funds. Fifty-one percent of 55-to-63-year-olds surveyed have saved less than $500,000, though they most commonly believe they will need $2,000,000 to retire comfortably.

To help bridge the $1,500,000 gap, 52 percent of this group are thinking they will retire later than planned, while 47 percent report that they have not changed their thinking about retirement.

Among respondents aged 18-34, 35 percent feel "indifferent" when it comes to their retirement preparedness, with 11 percent citing "fear" and another 9 percent responding with "anxiety." Almost three in four (73 percent) assert that, despite the economy, they haven't changed their thinking about when they will retire. Additionally, nearly six in 10 (59 percent) of those 18-34 confess they are not currently saving for retirement. Among savers, an average of just $23,000 has been set aside for retirement purposes.

SEC PROPOSES STRENGTHENING OF INVESTOR SAFEGUARDS

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed rule amendments to substantially increase protections for investors who entrust their money to investment advisors, including a yearly "surprise" exam of investment advisors performed by an independent public accountant to verify client assets. The SEC's proposed amendments, if adopted, would promote independent custody and enable independent public accountants to act as third-party monitors.

STUDY: FEW EMPLOYEES CHANGING INVESTING HABITS

Most U.S. employees are not changing their savings strategies and habits, according to a study conducted by management and human resources consultancy Hewitt Associates, which showed that three quarters (74 percent) of employees participated in their 401(k) plan in 2008, consistent with previous years' findings. The average contribution rate dropped only marginally, from 7.7 percent in 2007, to 7.4 percent in 2008. In fact, more employees increased their saving last year (15.4 percent) than decreased it (14.9 percent). Just 4.8 percent stopped contributing in 2008.

Other key findings include:

* Employee hardship withdrawals increased by 18 percent in 2008. The number of employees taking out 401(k) loans (23.1 percent) in 2008 remained similar to levels in prior years.

* Half of participants now invest in pre-mixed funds - including target-date and target-maturity funds - when available, up from 40 percent in 2005. Younger workers are much more likely to use them: 64 percent of 20-to-29-year-olds, compared to 43 percent of workers in their 50s and 39 percent of those 60 or over.

The study can be accessed at www.hewittassociates.com.

STUDY UP ON BEST PRACTICES

Practice management concern Quantuvis Consulting has introduced a Best Practices Study Series that will be made available free of charge to financial advisors. Sponsored by Genworth Financial Wealth Management, the study, which focuses on business performance, is designed to deliver relevant business intelligence that will enable advisors to build better, more profitable businesses.

For more, visit www.quantuvis.com.

(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.webcpa.com/ http://www.sourcemedia.com/

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access