Two years into the market’s recovery, investors remain worried that they will have to retire later than they’d planned, according to a new survey by SEI, in Oaks, Pa.

Eighty two percent of the 212 financial advisors polled by the SEI Advisor Network said their clients are “worried that they will outlive their savings,” and nearly all of them said their clients have had to push back planned retirements for at least one year.

“Investor sentiment is that they’re still very worried,” says John Anderson, head of practice management solutions for the SEI Advisor Network, which conducted the poll.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that many investors remain jittery about making the investments that might help them regain lost ground, says Anderson.

Of the advisors who said their clients expect to delay retirement, 58% characterized that expected delay as being at least three years.

Meanwhile, many advisors now believe the right time to start giving retirement advice is when their clients are quite young: 37% told SEI they begin doing so in their clients’ 20s. Thirty percent said they start discussing retirement plans when their clients are in their 30s, and 19% said they wait until their clients are 40 or older.

The poll was conducted as part of a recent SEI Advisor Network webinar entitled “Getting Real About Retirement.” More than 700 people registered for the webinar, more than any other such event the firm has hosted over the past two years, says Anderson.

That indicates how concerned advisors are about helping their clients prepare for retirement in the wake of the recession and market meltdown, he says.

“Very few (advisors) focus on the retirement portion of their business,” he says. “But they need to really wake up.”

One issue that needs attention is persuading clients to get back into the market, says Anderson. To help clients “avoid behavioral mistakes” such as staying on the sidelines, advisors might recommend strategies that are more goals-based, he says.

For example, they can frame clients’ investment goals in bucket -- short-term, middle-term and long-term allocations with corresponding exposure to risk. 

“It helps the client understand, ‘I’m going to live another 30 years; I can be with some volatility,’” says Anderson.

What’s more, advisors need more than ever to set aside lofty talk about retirement dreams and focus on the practical necessity of cash flow, he adds.

“Unfortunately, I still see our industry do way too much talking about living the dream life,” he says. “For the majority of Americans, it’s got to be that serious discussion. Advisors can’t be soft.”

The SEI Advisor Network provides turnkey wealth management and other services to advisors.


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