Investors are happy to think about retiring but are reluctant to contemplate what comes next. Such are the separate findings from surveys from AXA Financial and PNC Advisors.
The AXA study showed that Americans are more confident about their retirement — and better prepared for it financially — than the citizens of other developed nations. Based on a survey of 9,200 people in 15 countries, the AXA report found this to be a function of Americans' expectation of dwindling support from the government and employers. The movement towards privatized Social Security and defined-contribution plans “speaks to the continuing need for personal responsibility for many Americans,” says Ken Gelman, vice president and director of market research for AXA Financial. “That's something that's really unique to the United States.”
Indeed, 89 percent of American respondents believe retirement funding is their responsibility, rather than the government's. Further, about 73 percent of working Americans have made preparations for retirement — the highest percentage of any of the nations surveyed.
But if Americans are proactive in their preparations for retirement, the same cannot be said of their approach to their death. A PNC study, based on interviews with 792 affluent investors, found that 37 percent of investors with more than $10 million in assets do not have a will. Of these, 56 percent cited procrastination as the main reason. About 12 percent said they “simply didn't want to confront their own mortality,” and 5 percent didn't think they had enough money to justify making a will.
“This survey confirms our experience that affluent individuals need far more than investment advice,” said Joan Gulley, chief executive officer of PNC Advisors.
A stunning 58 percent of the survey's respondents said they never have discussed the issue of wealth transfer with their families.