Not knowing how to save for retirement is a problem that affects Americans at all income levels, including the highest, according to a new study.

Nearly one-third (30%) of investors with $300,000 to $500,000 in assets say they don’t know how much to save to meet their needs down the road, according to a survey by Natixis Global Asset Management. And 22% of investors with more than $1 million in assets say they, too, are unsure how much to set aside.

The confusion isn’t limited to the young, either, as the set of retirement-savings-challenged investors includes 18% of those over age 50, across all wealth levels.

“I think volatility has profoundly impacted investor behavior,” says Tracey Flaherty, senior vice president, retirement strategies, for Natixis Global Asset Management. Nearly half of investors (47%) say they have limited their investing because they don’t want to risk losing money, she notes. “Unfortunately, that fear and anxiety guides a lot of financial decisions.”

The role advisors can play here is crucial, Flaherty says. Having a “continuous investing program, staying the course [and] riding the ups and downs of the market” will benefit investors in the long run, she says. “Having a trusted source … can help [investors] have more confidence when things get a little uneasy.”

“It makes me think about what I heard from an advisor not that long ago:  ‘Our job is to help people spend less.’” While advisors may not always think their primary role is helping their clients with cash flow management and budget management, that guidance is really central, Flaherty says. “Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that all of this is about discipline.” 

 --Danielle Reed writes for Financial Planning.

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