EBRI Survey Captures Worker Pessimism about Having Enough Savings to Retire

Even with the stock markets at historic highs and the national economy sputtering back to life, more workers than ever lack the confidence they will have enough money to retire comfortably, according to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey released last week by the Employment Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Twenty-eight percent of workers (up from 23 percent a year ago) share this dim view of their retirement future – the highest percentage tallied in an EBRI survey since 2011.

According to the survey, there are a lot of factors conspiring against us:  We’re living longer and saving less in the face of pressing financial obligations and debt. Low interest rates make it harder to catch up. Companies are downsizing, requiring us to leave the full-time work force earlier than we plan.  We have increased health spending. Pensions aren’t what they used to be (and there are fewer of them available) or we haven’t been contributing to our 401(k) or other retirement accounts, like IRAs.

It’s no wonder that workers are so pessimistic about the future.

Estimating how much income you will need in retirement in complex and can be challenging. While many workers and retirees are nervous about the future, as EBRI’s data suggests, most continue to go it alone.  Just 23 percent of workers (and 28 percent of retirees) report they have obtained investment advice from a professional financial advisor who was paid through fees or commissions.  Of these workers, 27 percent followed all of the advice, but more disregarded some of it and followed most (41 percent) or some (27 percent), according to EBRI.

The truth is, most people may not be equipped to manage today’s financial complexities – let alone tomorrows’ uncertainties. There’s market risk, longevity risk and health risks.  And people have more financial pieces in more places than ever – 401(k)s, IRA, Roth, ETFs, HSAs, personal savings and more.

EBRI’s survey results reinforce the magnitude of the national retirement crisis. But individuals do have the power to change their outcomes for this new retirement.  Taking action is the first step.

People interested in the latest news and offerings from Financial Engines can follow us on Twitter at @retirewell, on YouTube and via LinkedIn.