(Dow Jones) Wealthy Americans are re-evaulating their attitudes toward retirement and many are taking a more active approach to planning for the lifestyle they want in their later years, according to new research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
About half of retired respondents said they would have focused more on their life goals and less on a specific dollar amount when planning for retirement, according to the Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly survey. This would have meant spending more time determining how they wanted to live in their retirement years and creating a plan to better support their philanthropic missions.
"Retirement is not all about the dollars," Sallie Krawcheck, president of Bank of America Global Wealth Management & Investment Management said on a conference call.
Among the nearly half of respondents who said they'd have concentrated more on "the numbers," nearly a quarter wished they'd started working with a financial adviser earlier in life and nearly two in 10 would have given up more luxuries to reach their retirement goals.
Still, respondents indicated they're focusing on core values in the wake of the economic recession, including the value of things that will matter most in retirement--such as family and friends and a realization they may need to scale back their current lifestyle to meet their retirement goals.
Nevertheless, "You do have to give a nod to the underlying optimism of the American investor," Krawcheck said.
Cutting back on personal luxuries and energy costs, paying more attention to their short-term cash flow and vacationing less or closer to home were among the ways respondents altered their lifestyle to control spending.
Health care and inflation are more of a concern for affluent Americans than having the lifestyle they want in retirement. More than half of the 1,000 respondents surveyed, who included retirees and nonretirees, cited rising health care costs as a high concern. Ensuring retirement assets last through their lifetime, preserving inheritance for children, supporting philanthropic priorities and caring for aging parents are among other concerns for wealthy Americans.
Helping clients plan for retirement will remain a core focus of the company's wealth-management business, Krawcheck said. That means addressing client concerns and helping them set and achieve goals.
"We're not selling x, y or z products," Krawcheck said. "That game is over. We're solving problems."