While employees are making some positive changes with their retirement planning, poor money management skills and long-term economic challenges continue to present major obstacles.
That was one of the findings in a new report from Financial Finesse, an El Segundo, Calif.-based provider of workplace financial wellness programs.
In its second annual research report on the state of U.S. employee retirement preparedness, the firm found that 32% of questions received by a company on-staff certified financial planner in the second quarter were on retirement planning issues. This figure is up from 25% in the second quarter of 2011.
Three of the top four questions asked focused on the most important priorities that employees need to be addressing in order to achieve financial security, including how much they need to save, what accounts to save their money in and how to allocate assets.
The data showed that retirement planning remained the top priority for all ages over 30 and above and all incomes of $60,000 and above. Financial Finesses also found that employee attendance at company retirement planning events had increased in 2012 – from 17.2 to 21.8 participants last year.
Despite making strides, employees may still not be doing enough to prepare for retirement, according to the report. Only 18% are on track to replace the 80% of their income to achieve a comfortable standard of living, which is up from 14% in 2011. Seventy-four percent have not taken the first step towards preparing for retirement by running a retirement projection to determine how much they should save and how they should invest their savings.
Due to financial struggles, some employees are having difficulty managing their money. More employees took out a retirement plan loan or hardship withdrawal from their 401(k) at 34% in 2012 and 27% in 2011.
As of June 30, 51% of employees said they did not have an emergency fund in place, and 33% reported not having a handle on their cash flow.
To compile data for the report, Financial Finesse said it tracked questions received by planners through its helpline services used by more than 500,000 employees from more than 300 organizations.