Older Americans are worried about numerous factors affecting their financial security and, thus, are very skeptical of financial planners who say they are building portfolios for them to mitigate risk, research by Hearts & Wallets found through nine focus groups across the country.

They also have difficulty grasping the notion of multiple sources of retirement income and are very reluctant to tap into savings in employer-sponsored plans. In addition, their trust of financial services companies and advisers has dropped to a new low in the past nine months.

“Older investors are gun-shy on many levels,” said Chris Brown, a principal of Hearts & Wallets. “Unlike market performance, a number of uncertainties can’t be mitigated with asset allocation. The risk of illness and large medical bills. Adult children’s job security. The capriciousness of government actions, especially on taxes.”

Brown continued: “Older Americans view financial services firms as suspect if they make promises to help plan for what can’t be known. Instead, firms should work on solutions for unknowns and unmet needs, while building trust by outlining exactly what they can do and how much it costs. Very few participants in our research sessions had a clear idea of how to take income across different accounts.”

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