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Retirement Plans

AllianceBernstein: Retirement confidence jumps 15 points in 2018

Retirement confidence among employees and retirees vaulted in 2018 to the highest level measured by AllianceBernstein (AB) in the 13 years the investment management firm has conducted a survey of participant attitudes.

When asked "How confident are you that you will have a comfortable retirement?" 47% said they were very confident or confident, much higher than the 32% response in 2017 and well above the previous record response of 41% in 2007.

While nearly half of the respondents feel confident, that means more than half are concerned. "There are cautionary signs under the surface," said a report issued Tuesday describing the survey results. For example, "there's already been a significant uptick in consumer debt in the last year alone," the report said.

Among the reasons cited by respondents who had low or no confidence about a comfortable retirement, 46% said they needed to save more, 44% said they didn't have enough savings and 41% said Social Security won't provide enough financial support. Multiple responses were allowed.

"Plan participants want longer-lasting savings, and a steady income stream in retirement, said Jennifer DeLong, managing director and head of defined contribution at AllianceBernstein, in a news release accompanying the survey report. "Unfortunately, not enough U.S. workers know how to save wisely, early and continuously."

Although many DC plans have adopted automatic enrollment in conjunction with a qualified default investment alternative, "fewer include automatic escalation of savings rates starting at high enough levels," Ms. DeLong said. She recommended that DC plans "consider offering" a lifetime income product to create for participants a steady income stream in retirement.

The Alliance Bernstein survey was conducted online in May from a national sample of 1,002 people, of which 893 were full-time employees participating in a workplace savings plan and 109 retirees who had previously worked full time and participated in a workplace savings plan.