Younger people do not know where to begin to save for retirement and older generations wish they had started to work with a financial advisor earlier to maximize retirement savings, says a new survey by Bank of America titled Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly.

Like other surveys, the results show many affluent people are working longer than anticipated, but the authors find it surprising that just as many (45%) plan to donate time to philanthropic endeavors when they retire as the percentage who want to travel.

Other issues impact retirement planning as well, shows the survey of 1,000 individuals or families with at least $250,000 in investable income.

Nearly one third of the affluent age 51 to 64 constitute the Sandwich Generation, supporting both children and a parent. More than 45% of this group already have made lifestyle sacrifices to support family needs and have cut back on personal luxuries. In addition, 26% of those are saving less for retirement.

Another significant finding, according to Lyle LaMothe, head of U.S. Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, is that women are becoming more involved in retirement planning, in part because they are more concerned about all retirement issues than men.

"Women concerned about the impact of the economy on their ability to meet financial needs, on the rising costs of health care, on putting their children through college and other issues outnumber men by 10% to 15%," says LaMothe. "Women also more clearly understand the high probability of having to care for an aging relative."

Twenty-three percent of respondents age 18 to 34 say they find knowing where to begin to save for retirement is their biggest challenge.

"All age groups want a better understanding of liquidity and credit issues," says LaMothe. Some 42% do not believe they take full advantage of credit and lending options and 36% do not see credit as a vehicle that can help them with their financial needs or they (28%) use it only in an emergency.

"This indicates they are looking for, or need, greater depth of information and professional advice," he added.

The good news, says Sallie Krawcheck, president of global wealth and investment management, Bank of America, is that 44% of the affluent work with a financial advisor and 81% of that group is satisfied with the help they are receiving.  

"Significantly more than half (63%) have been working with the same advisor for more than six years and 40% for more than 10 years," Krawcheck says. "Twenty-seven percent wish they had started earlier."

The numbers of people who talk to their advisor at least once a quarter (75%), or once a month (41%), have remained fairly consistent, but the number who have begun talking to their advisor on a weekly basis has jumped from 8% to $13% within the last six months.

"There are lower levels of anxiety for those working with advisors," she adds. "These people are looking for integrity in their advisor and straightforward advice."