Wealthy Americans Nervous About Retirement

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BOSTON (TheStreet) — The wealthy are just as anxious about their finances as the rest of America is.

The government needs to pass more retirement-focused reforms, especially when it comes to improving Social Security, Medicare and ensuring health care for retirees, according to a survey of affluent Americans by Bank of America's (Stock Quote: BAC) Merrill Lynch unit.

Forty-nine percent of affluent Americans surveyed expressed concerns about the economy's effect on their ability to meet financial goals, down from 58% in October 2009. Still, retirement and rising health-care costs top the list of lingering concerns. People are worried about supporting both their parents and children as they approach retirement age.

Among those who identified health care as a top concern (62%), more than half feel unsure of how rising costs should factor into retirement planning. Sixty-one percent are concerned about assets lasting through their lifetime, up from 53%.

"The takeaway here is that while Washington in the past quarter has been talking 'health care, health care, health care,' these affluent Americans have heard that concern, but have also been thinking 'retirement, retirement, retirement," says Sallie Krawcheck, president of Bank of America Global Wealth and Investment Management.

Affluent baby boomers ages 51 to 64 are most concerned about whether their assets will last throughout their lifetime (73%) and question whether they will be able to live the lifestyle they had hoped for in retirement (61%).

About 31% said they're supporting their children and parents. Often referred to as the Sandwich Generation, many of the respondents said they have significantly cut back on luxuries and are saving less for retirement as a result. Nineteen percent said they have invited their adult-age children or parents to live with them to reduce monthly expenses.

Those 35 to 50 worry about funding their children's education and "knowing how best to manage a proper cash flow and liquidity strategy" (31%).

During the past year, the Obama administration has outlined a number of initiatives promoted as improving retirement security. Nevertheless, 52% of respondents said more can be done to assist individuals with their savings.

For example, half believe health-care coverage should be provided to all retirees, and 44% say more financial resources should be put toward Social Security. Nearly half (47%) of all affluent Americans ages 35 to 50 assume that Social Security won't play a role in their retirement and almost 70% are skeptical about Medicare.

Nearly 65% of respondents under age 50 want to see the maximum contribution limit for IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans raised.

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