The financial services industry spent $1.14 billion in 2011 to advertise products and services designed to address retirement and investment needs, and yet 58 percent of Americans do not have a formal retirement savings and income plan, and many don’t work with professionals to help them prepare a plan.
“Meeting the Retirement Challenge: New approaches and solutions for the financial services industry,” from the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, surveyed nearly 4,500 consumers spanning a range of age and income groups, to better understand the attitudes and behavioral constraints that prevent them from controlling their retirement.
According to Deloitte, the five main barriers to retirement planning are:
1. Conflicting priorities: Retirement is concern for the majority of participants, but many have difficulty balancing long-term needs with more immediate financial priorities.
2. A failure to communicate: Financial institutions don’t effectively reach those who need advice and solutions, particularly via the workplace. Nor do they integrate consumers’ retirement needs with a broad financial accounting for other priorities.
3. A lack of product awareness: Many consumers are not familiar with the retirement products available.
4. Mistrust in financial institutions and intermediaries: Many distrust financial services providers and their intermediaries to offer objective advice and deliver on what they promise.
5. The “do-it-myself” mentality: Many said they don’t need professional advice in retirement planning, despite the complexity of retirement finances and the potential value of an advisor.
Deloitte also said s cynicism plays a role, as four-in-10 said no matter how much they save, the return on those investments won’t be enough to generate sufficient retirement income; of these, 70 percent don’t have a formal plan for retirement, and 60 percent don’t work with advisors to address their retirement needs.
To combat the conflicting priorities barrier, Deloitte recommends broadening customer conversations beyond retirement savings and income to transform the perception of financial institutions from product providers into financial facilitators and enablers, which could help them “capture a greater share of the retirement piggy bank in the long run.” Deloitte also suggested establishing marketing partnerships with health or long-term care insurers to expand the dialogue and deal more holistically with retirement.
To increase interest in advisory services, Deloitte also suggests enticing plan participants with a broader curriculum that addresses retirement planning in a “holistic context,” helping prospects deal with a variety of financial priorities and prompting them to start a formal planning process.
Reengineering or rebranding products to provide greater transparency and clarity, so consumers understand them was another suggestion. Many people also said they care about easy access to money, principal protection and guaranteed income, yet the industry does not yet bundle those product attributes and sell them at economically attractive price points.
To overcome the lack of trust, Deloitte recommends reaching out to younger prospects and establishing longstanding financial planning relationships rather than taking a more transactional approach. Face-to-face communication is recommended.
The do-it-myself approach could be countered potentially by emphasizing that while consumers ultimately are responsible for their own investment decisions, there is value in having expert advice so they are able to make more informed decisions, based on all the available options.
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