Americans are working harder to get their finances back on track, but many still expect to retire later than they planned, a new survey from Bank of America Corp. found.
The latest Merrill Edge Report, a semi-annual study of consumers with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets, found 57 percent expect to retire later than they planned a year ago. Thats up from 47 percent in November, when the Charlotte-based bank conducted its last survey.
Balancing short- and long-term financial needs continues to be one of the greatest challenges for those mass affluent customers, the study found. About a third acknowledged tapping into their long-term savings to meet short-term needs, more than in the last report.
Yet long-term issues pose the greatest concern: Consumers said they were most worried about the rising cost of health care, followed by saving enough to last them through retirement and being able to afford the lifestyle they want during retirement.
Its no surprise that we see this group delaying retirement and pushing it back further and further, Dean Athanasia, preferred and small business executive at Bank of America, said during a conference call Thursday.
Workers are changing their habits as a result of their concerns, cutting back on entertainment and personal luxuries, trimming everyday expenses and keeping their cars longer than planned, the report found. But those measures are being offset, in part, by other pressures: More than half of respondents said they paid or expect to pay more to send their children to college than anticipated, for instance.
As a result, consumers are working harder these days to get back on track, stepping up efforts to budget, balance short-term and long-term expenses and save for retirement, the report found. Workers nearing retirement arent the only ones worried, either: The survey found 18- to 34-year-olds in the mass affluent consumer segment are more worried about their financial future than older generations.
Merrill Edge offers investment guidance and investing platforms for small businesses and mass affluent customers. The bank uses data from its semi-annual reports to help shape its products and services, Merrill Edge executive Alok Prasad said.
The bank has seen a significant jump in the number of younger consumers investing and seeking advice, for instance, a trend reflected in the latest Merrill Edge report, he said. Customers are looking for more educational resources and better access to mobile applications. And for many, their priorities are changing in the post-recession era, Prasad said.
Clients are not worried about returns; they are worried about how to reach their goals, he said. Investment returns are a mechanism to close the gap.