Many Americans don’t know whether they’ll be able to retire because they’re not asking the right questions, according to New York-based Blackrock.
BlackRock’s recent DC Pulse Survey found that only half of individuals participating in defined contribution plans felt like they were on track for retirement. More than a quarter of plan participants, many of them women, reported feeling unsure about whether they are on track for retirement.
BlackRock found that the uncertainty was often because plan participants never calculated how much money they needed to set aside for retirement or how to generate income from their savings.
“Our survey shows that taking a few simple steps with a DC plan can make a considerable difference for successful retirement preparation,” said Anne Ackerley, head of BlackRock’s U.S. & Canada Defined Contribution Group, in released comments. “For many participants, moving from retirement uncertainty to confidence is a matter of education and resolve: learning more about your precise savings and income needs, and developing a plan to get there.”
Women comprised two-thirds of those who told BlackRock that they were unsure about their retirement—on the bright side, more women reported feeling unsure about retirement, 33 percent, than reported feeling off track, 21 percent.
BlackRock said that women were also less likely than men to feel confident that they would be able to retire by the age they want to, handle unexpected expenses in retirement and enjoy the lifestyle that they want.
“Unfortunately, the uncertainty that women feel regarding retirement seems only to have hindered their retirement savings and readiness,” said Ackerley. “The challenge now is to help female plan participants understand that there is a blueprint for getting on track.”
Despite their uncertainty, women reported underusing their defined contribution plans. Women who reported being unsure about retirement were more likely than unsure men to agree that they don’t spend the time that they should to understand their employer’s retirement plan. Fifty-seven percent of unsure women reported that they don’t feel like they’re doing as much as they should with their plan versus 42 percent of unsure men.
Yet women reported a higher level of dependence on their defined contribution plan. Seventy-four percent of the women said that their workplace plan would be extremely or very important to ensuring a secure retirement versus 66 percent of men. Fifty-eight percent of women also said that their defined contribution plan would be their biggest source of retirement income versus 51 percent of men.
Unsure individuals were less likely than individuals who felt on track for retirement to engage with their defined contribution plan. Forty-three percent of the unsure respondents say they’ve taken full advantage of retirement savings guidance provided by their employer versus 67 percent of those who felt on track. Unsure respondents were also less likely to have increased their contribution in the past 12 months, were less engaged in evaluating investment options within their plans and were less likely to report that they evaluate their investment options at least quarterly.