Q&A On Merrill Edge’s Semi-Annual Report

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We asked Andrew Wilson, a regional sales executive for Bank of America/Merrill Edge, responsible for associates in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade counties, to break down the report.
1. Tell us a little about the survey. How long has it been conducted? How often is it conducted? Who do you target to answer the questions?
Our semi-annual, nationwide survey, takes an in-depth look at the financial concerns and priorities of mass affluent Americans. This fall was our 12th bi-annual report and found retirement as it’s defined today will likely become extinct as younger generations plan to work well into their later years and one in five Americans (20 percent) believe they need to take on a side job to reach their retirement goals.
The latest Merrill Edge Report surveyed over 1,000 Americans, including an oversample of 300 South Florida residents between September 24 and October 5, 2016.
2. Why do you think one in five people surveyed believe they need to take on a side job to reach their retirement goals?
Our survey suggests retirement leaves Americans feeling insecure and uncertain, as economic factors, rising debt, growing longevity and “Sandwich Generation” priorities make the milestone seem unattainable.
Many Americans are unsure of how much money they need to save for retirement. When asked their “magic number”—the amount of money they think they need to live their desired retirement. More than half (56 percent) of respondents don’t anticipate needing more than $1 million, and nearly one in five (19 percent) simply ‘don’t know’ their number. And even with these estimates, 40 percent of today’s non-retirees say reaching their magic number by retirement will either be “difficult” or “virtually unattainable.”
Also, the majority of Americans are saving to afford daily life (57 percent) and to take care of family (45 percent).
3. What is the cause of the change in retirement and the idea of what retirement is among millennials?
While most of today’s retirees (83 percent) are not currently working or never have during their golden years, the majority (83 percent) of millennials plan to work in retirement whether for income, to keep busy or to pursue a passion. The rise of the “gig economy” – an environment where temporary positions and short-term projects are more prevalent – and longer-term careers may be why millennials (15 percent) are three times more likely than Gen Xers and baby boomers (5 percent) to rank an employer’s retirement plan as the most important factor when taking a new job.
4. What is the magic number people need to hit in order to retire?
There is no magic number for retirement, as it is based on a person’s individual needs and priorities. At Merrill Edge, we encourage our clients to plan for retirement and build their portfolios around their life priorities. Although retirement may be decades away, it’s never too early to start investing, even just a small amount at a time.
5. Share with us some tips for saving for retirement.
Here are some steps Americans can take to start saving and investing for their financial goals:
1. Build a budget and get a handle on debt
2. Be prepared for emergencies
3. Save and invest for retirement: Start now, even if you start small
4. Balance long – and short-term goals
5. Seek professional help
If you want to learn more or need guidance throughout the saving process, you can find more information and resources at merrilledge.com or visit a Bank of America Financial Center.