NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Money is the biggest source of stress among Americans —more than their concerns about work, family or health. However, people who proactively plan for retirement tend to be more content with their lives and have a greater sense of personal well-being today. Americans with a retirement savings plan are more likely (78%) to have a higher level of overall well-being than those without one (52%).
These findings are based on BlackRock’s latest Global Investor Pulse survey, one of the world’s largest studies of investment behavior. This year’s study spanned 27,000 people worldwide, including more than 4,000 in the United States. At a time when economic anxiety is increasing, some two-thirds of Americans (69%) identified financial health as having a significant impact on their well-being -- on par with relationships (68%), and mental (70%) and physical health (71%).
Sidelined by Financial Concerns, Americans Lack Retirement Preparedness
Retirement readiness remains a significant issue in the U.S. Just 56% of all respondents said they have started to save for retirement, and only 45% of them feel confident that they’ll achieve their “ideal retirement.” Among the reasons: Respondents say they are too worried about their financial situation today to think about tomorrow, citing high cost of living (56%), healthcare costs (49%) and rising prices (34%) as the greatest threats to their current financial health. Equally concerning is that fewer than half (44%) of U.S. respondents said that they have any market-based investment holdings at all, inhibiting their progress toward long-term financial goals.
Encouragingly, there is a high correlation – a virtuous circle – between planning for the future and a sense of overall contentment. Those with a higher sense of well-being are also four times more likely to feel confident about their retirement income (66% vs. 17%).
“For too many people, investing and retirement planning are all about an intangible future,” said Robert S. Kapito, President of BlackRock. “Thus, the incentive to start saving today just hasn’t been strong enough. But what we found is that there are immediate benefits for those who start early. Much as physical exercise has both short- and long-term benefits, focusing on retirement planning helps alleviate stress and improves your overall well-being today. Saving for your future retirement pays immediate emotional benefits.”
Women Who Save More Worry Less – But Too Many Don’t Save at All
Women, in particular, are missing out on the financial and emotional benefits of investing. While those who have a retirement plan report a higher well-being (76%) vs. those who do not (53%), only half (52%) of U.S. women have started to save for retirement at all. For 64% of this group, just the thought of investing is a source of stress, compared to 50% of U.S. men.
The Global Investor Pulse found that only 38% of U.S. women invest in the financial markets and more than half (55%) say investing is not for “people like me.” U.S. women who do invest take a more cautious approach, with 38% willing to increase their investment risk to achieve higher returns, compared to 56% of men.
Millennials’ Money Angst
While money was ranked as the number one source of stress among respondents overall, millennials, who represent a third of the U.S. workforce1, reported worrying about their finances more than any other age group. More than half (58%) of them said that they are too worried about their current financial situation to think about their future. Seventy-seven percent of millennials feel that there are too many investment options to choose from and six in ten (59%) said they don’t know where to go for retirement planning advice. Encouragingly, the vast majority of adults age 25 to 37 (84%) believe their financial outlook would improve if they started investing.
“Millennials, more than any other generation, have embraced technology in nearly all aspects of their lives,” said Kapito. “The industry should work to meet millennials where they are – and build better and more intuitive systems that help prepare them for retirement as early as possible.”
Make It Easy
Given the challenges of many Americans to actively engage with their retirement planning, it’s clear that easy-to-use investment solutions could help alleviate both financial and emotional barriers. Among those who have started investing, seven in ten (70%) U.S. respondents said new technology solutions would help them be more involved in their investments. In addition, the study found that 83% of respondents who work with a financial advisor reported a high sense of well-being, compared with 61% of those who don’t.
For many people, getting started is the hardest part. Finding a solution that makes it simple to invest for the future would create a virtuous circle with lifelong benefits.
BlackRock helps investors build better financial futures. As a fiduciary to investors and a leading provider of financial technology, our clients turn to us for the solutions they need when planning for their most important goals. As of December 31, 2018, the firm managed approximately $5.98 trillion in assets on behalf of investors worldwide. For additional information on BlackRock, please visit www.blackrock.com.
About the Global Investor Pulse Survey
BlackRock’s Global Investor Pulse Survey examines investing behaviors across the world. The 2019 survey included 27,000 respondents in 13 countries. The U.S. sample included more than 4,000 respondents. More information can be found at www.blackrock.com/investorpulse.