In the great nationwide retirement race, about half of Americans say they are falling behind as they strive to meet their savings goals—and that may be creating a nation of people who are permanently worried about their futures in a way that previous generations might not have been. What the effects of this psychological shift on American society might be is unclear, but for the individuals, the lesson is clear—they need action.
That’s one takeaway from a new study by Allianz Life Insurance Company that zeroes in on a group it calls “chasers.” These are active retirement savers who, among other things, say that they need to sock away more money to get to where they think they ought to be.
A key point: Of the Americans ages 45 to 65 surveyed, 49% fall into this “chaser” category. However, nearly two-thirds of the chasers say that they can’t stomach the kind of high-risk, high-reward investments, such as stocks, that could conceivably help them make up their savings gap. This leaves them in the lurch. The underlying message is that you can’t just know you should do more to build a nest egg—you have to actually take sometimes risky steps that could get you there.
A big difference between the chasers and their more confident counterparts is in their investing profiles. Only 53% of the chasers have individual retirement accounts (IRAs) versus 70% of the nonchasers. And only 35% of the chasers own individual stocks or mutual fund shares. In contrast, 56% of nonchasers own individual stocks and 51% own mutual funds.
Remember, these “chasers” aren’t clueless about the money it takes to fund retirement or how well they are doing to amass it—they know they are behind but seem too paralyzed to address the problem.
There’s also a major discrepancy between the two groups in their propensity to seek out advice. Only 39% of chasers work with financial consultants or other professionals, while more than half, or 53%, of the nonchasers do. Whether there’s cause and effect involved in those figures is not addressed.
The chasers’ median retirement portfolio size was $400,000. Two-thirds of the chasers said that they fear running out of money in retirement. And 61% said that they believe they will need to keep working instead of retiring.
If you see something of yourself in the description of these chasers—people who are essentially savvy about money, people who have some money, but people who are not taking the investment steps needed to make their money grow in a way that can secure their futures—this survey could help you as a wake-up call. Indeed, fully 84% of the chasers said they would be interested in a financial product that offers growth potential and some protection against loss. That is not a unicorn portfolio—that is simply what a well-balanced investment portfolio does. If it doesn’t describe yours, hiring a pro, such as a fee-only financial adviser, to help you invest could be your best next step.