Individuals who receive professional financial advice are more likely to be prepared for retirement, no matter what their income level is, according to a survey by Brightwork Partners and sponsored by Putnam Investments. The results of the study were presented by Merl Baker, principal of Brightwork, Tuesday morning, in conjunction with Putnam’s launch of the Putnam Institute, a new investment research group.
“The data also demonstrates, unmistakably, the valuable role that financial advice plays in helping individuals prepare for retirement, as well as the behavioral changes needed for success,” said Putnam President and CEO Robert Reynolds, in a statement.
The survey polled 3,290 working Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 and assigned each respondent a “lifetime income score,” a new offering by Putnam that estimates the percentage of their current income that U.S households can expect to replace in retirement. The score takes into account a person’s investments, savings, Social Security and other sources. The median score of the respondents was 64 percent.
According to Baker, respondents who indicated they use financial advisors had higher scores. For those who had a paid advisor, their median lifetime income score was 82 percent, versus 61 percent for those who do not have a paid advisor.
While many of these respondents are likely in commission-based products, the fact that they have the discipline to seek help speaks to a different kind of saver, one who is more disciplined and saves systematically, Baker said. The data reminds us that retirement readiness is more about the person’s set of practices, tools and partnerships, he added. It also shows that advisors are well-positioned to capture retirement plan assets. The average advised respondent tended to be older and male, with a higher income and investable assets.
But the survey found that having an advisor has a positive effect no matter what the person’s income is. For those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, the lifetime income score went up to 76 percent with an advisor from 59 percent for those without an advisor. In the $100,000 to $175,000 range, the score increased to 87 percent for those with an advisor versus 64 percent for those without.
In fact, overall, the study found that discipline played a larger role in a person’s savings rate and retirement readiness than a person’s income. The most prepared, or those on track to replace 100 percent or more of their retirement income, had the same mean household income—$93,000 a year—as the least prepared, those on pace to replace less than 45 percent, the study found.
The survey also found that respondents had a realistic perspective on their retirement prospects, Baker said. Those who said they are “not at all confident” about being financially ready for retirement had a score of 52 percent, versus 100 percent for those who are “very confident.”
Given this data, there’s a group who recognize the problem, and with better tools, better vision and improved communication, they can turn into better retirement savers, Baker said.