LOS ANGELES – While the U.S. economy has accelerated in the last year, Americans 55 and older – many of whom saw their retirements stung by the financial crisis – are course-correcting their lifestyle plans, work/leisure expectations and investing strategies, according to a study released by AIG Life and Retirement in collaboration with Age Wave.
According to the AIG Retirement Re-Set Study, 72% of the survey respondents said the recent economic uncertainty provided a “financial wake-up call.” And 80% of those 55 and older said they are now more cautious in their approach to investing. They are far more likely to seek financial peace of mind as a key goal versus potentially higher – but riskier – returns.
“Americans are rightfully concerned about retirement and more careful in their investment strategies,” said Jay Wintrob, President and CEO of AIG Life and Retirement. “The 2008 global financial crisis provided a financial wake-up call that people have taken to heart. They are now seeking a safer and more predictable road to retirement, one with less risk and more financial security.”
“In a new era of flux and uncertainty, Americans are rebounding from a difficult period and showing their resilience by turning toward greater expense control and more responsible retirement planning,” said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave. “Lessons learned have not been forgotten. Many people are adapting a new retirement mindset and are choosing to work a bit longer, thereby helping to make retirement more affordable. They are re-setting their sights on a revised, more achievable path to retirement.”
The 2012 survey, conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive among 3,426 respondents aged 55 or older, follows last year’s noteworthy study which unearthed a new approach to post-recession retirement strategies. AIG Life and Retirement and Age Wave first partnered in 2001 on a groundbreaking Re-Visioning Retirement Survey.
This year’s survey found that more than four times as many people chose saving enough to have “financial peace of mind” (61%) as a top financial priority compared to accumulating as much wealth as possible (14%).
Eight times as many people (32%) plan to look into ways to protect existing assets than those who plan to invest more aggressively to make up for lost time (4%) in response to the recent economic and financial market uncertainty. And 54% expressed concern about their personal financial situation, saying they felt less financially secure than they did a year ago.
“The impact of the most difficult economy in generations has left a lasting impression, with Americans seeing their retirement savings jeopardized by low interest rates and high market volatility,” Mr. Wintrob said. “While the stock market and economy have somewhat rebounded, the confidence that many Americans once had has diminished. People are now looking for stable, lower-risk strategies that will provide the income and security they need in retirement.”
According to Dr. Dychtwald, “It’s notable that protecting themselves and their families from investment surprises is of utmost importance to men and women nearing or in retirement. While there has been a great deal of discussion about the economic impact of the past few years, this survey revealed that the psychological impact was also substantial – and a new mindset is emerging. Today, people are far more likely to recognize the need to scale back some of their retirement expectations while stepping up their saving and responsible financial planning.”
“Financial peace of mind is critical for Americans today,” Mr. Wintrob said. “We are keenly focused on providing the protection, investment and income solutions needed for financial and retirement security, and I’m confident that the entire financial services industry will play an important role in helping Americans improve their retirement outlook and prepare for tomorrow.”