Financial planners have a lot of work ahead of them when it comes to helping Americans prepare for retirement, according to a new study.

One of their first chores, it turns out, is to get more people to walk into the office.

Among the findings in the survey by GE Financial was that only a minority of the 1,010 randomly chosen participants are using a planner for retirement.

The survey found that while 75% of respondents have started saving for retirement, only 30% are doing so with the help of a financial planner. Furthermore, there are no indications the situation is going to dramatically change: only 38% of respondents say they plan to use a financial planner in the future.

The survey's authors state the financial services industry needs to be more proactive when it comes to retirement planning.

"We clearly face a challenge on many fronts," they write. "We must build awareness, promote education and, most importantly, design the right products, tools and services so that financial professionals can assist their clients..."

Despite numerous studies that suggest Americans are lagging in their retirement savings efforts, respondents to the GE Financial survey seemed optimistic about their retirements.
The survey found, for example, that 60% expect to spend at least 15 years in retirement and that 49% expect to retire before the age of 65. At the same time, 68% believe they will need at least 75% of today's annual income during retirement.

The authors note there may be a disconnect between expectations and reality, particularly when considering the low savings rate of workers and the low percentage who seek professional help.