So much for the recession impacting the American consumer for years to come. When it comes to their outlook on retirement, the majority of Americans, once again, are overly bullish on their expectations for quality of life, Allianz Global Investors found in a survey.

Seventy-eight percent of investors expect their standard of living in retirement to be the same or even better than it is now, and 80% believe they have adequately planned for the future and are confident they will have a secure retirement. Seventy-four percent expect the stock market will bounce back to annual mean returns of 9% and replenish their retirement accounts.

But few advisers are nearly as optimistic, with only 45% saying their clients have a realistic retirement vision.

“Confidence and optimism are admirable qualities, but when it comes to retirement planning, they should be exercised in moderation and with a sense of perspective,” said Brian Gaffney, chief executive officer of Allianz Global Investors Distributors. “Despite this refreshing optimism, tremendous damage has been done, and Americans now have a lot less accumulated for retirement than they did even a few short years ago.”

Eric Sutherland, head of channel distribution and wirehouse national accounts at Allianz, said advisers should take this opportunity to help clients repair their savings accounts. “The recent recovery in equity prices provides an additional window of opportunity for advisers to sit down with clients, calmly and constructively, to rethink retirement plans and reassess, revise and, if necessary, reallocate their retirement portfolios,” Gaffney said, adding that investors might want to revisit the traditional thinking on equity exposure.

Indeed, 55% of advisers said they are now helping their clients set more realistic retirement goals, and 52% are having frank discussions about lower expected returns and the need for increased contributions.

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