Half of retirement savers are “Chasers” who are behind on savings goals

July 31, 2018

Anxious Savers Want to Catch Up, but Worry They May Be Too Late

Key Findings Snapshot:

85% of Chasers worry that if they don’t increase savings soon, it will be too late for them to have a comfortable retirement

54% of Chasers say they have too many other expenses right now to save for retirement

84% of Chasers say they are interested in a financial product that offers growth potential with some protection from loss

MINNEAPOLIS, July 31, 2018 – Although 90% of active retirement savers agree that accumulating enough savings is an important factor in their ability to enjoy their future retirement, a significant subset of these Americans is worried they’re already too far behind to reach their savings goals. According to the Chasing Retirement Study* from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) of Americans age 45-65 actively saving for retirement, these “Chasers,” who make up half (49%) of the total respondents, think they need to catch up on their retirement savings but need help to understand potential solutions to close their savings gap.

For the purposes of this study, Chasers are defined as those who are saving but have either fallen behind on where they should be, wish they could accumulate savings faster, or worry that if they don’t increase savings soon it will be too late to have a comfortable retirement. More than eight in 10 (85%) Chasers feel they have fallen behind where they should be in saving for retirement compared to just 4% of non-Chasers, and the same percentage worry it will be too late for them to have a comfortable retirement if they don’t increase their savings soon (versus 2% for non-Chasers). The vast majority of Chasers (98%) also say they wish there was a way they could accumulate funds faster to make up for lost time versus 41% for non-Chasers, but nearly two-thirds (63%) of Chasers also say they can’t take the risk of investing in high risk/high reward financial products.

“Among those Americans actively saving for retirement, our study finds a dramatic difference between those who feel on track and those who feel behind, with this subset wishing for ways to catch up but without taking on too much risk,” said Paul Kelash, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life.  “While it’s a positive that they are actively saving for retirement, the level of anxiety is concerning and many are simply not aware of potential solutions to help them catch up.”

Despite having a mean retirement portfolio of more than $400,000, Chasers struggle to keep up with their retirement savings goals and may need more education about financial products. More than half (54%) say they have too many other expenses right now and one in five say they are saving for other financial goals. As a result, two-thirds of Chasers fear they will run out of money in retirement, and more than six in 10 (61%) believe they will need to keep working instead of retiring.

In addition, Chasers own fewer financial products. Only 53% of Chasers have an individual retirement account (IRA), and even fewer own individual stocks (35%), mutual funds (35%), have a pension (37%) or own an annuity (14%). In contrast, a full 70% of confident savers own an IRA while more also own individual stocks (56%), mutual funds (51%), have a pension (53%) or own an annuity (28%).

Although the fastest way to accumulate funds may be to take on more investment risk, Chasers are not very interested in that approach. Only 34% of Chasers said the only way to save enough for a comfortable retirement is “to invest in high risk/high reward financial products.” Instead, Chasers gravitate toward protection as part of their growth options. More than eight in 10 Chasers (84%) say they are interested in a financial product that offers growth potential with some protection from loss, and 71% of Chasers are willing to trade off some upside growth potential to have some protection from losses.

“Although Chasers will likely need to be more aggressive in order to catch up on their retirement savings goals, they still need to maintain some focus on protection because they are closer to retirement,” noted Kelash. “A financial professional can help them determine the right mix of financial products.”

In fact, Chasers are less likely than non-Chasers to say they are currently working with a financial professional. Only 39% of Chasers are currently working with a financial professional, compared to over half (53%) of their more confident counterparts. “Working with a financial professional can help Chasers understand how they could take on more risk, yet still have protection in their portfolio,” added Kelash.

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