Americans and financial education: they need it quite a bit!

This article appears in its original form in Financial planning magazine…It is an American magazine and the survey and findings are about America. Indian facts may not be very different…
Americans say that despite daunting circumstances, they have developed a more practical attitude toward money and retirement since last year, according to a study.

In a new study, Age Wave, found that only 4% of respondents strongly agree that Americans behave in a financially responsible manner. An overwhelming 95% of respondents said financial management should be a standard part of high school curricula. Eighty-one percent said that to live within ones means was the most important financial advice that parents could pass on to their children.

All of these responses underscore the need for guidance and education among financial services clients, and financial planners are positioned to provide those services, said industry professionals. “There has not been a moment in history when more people need to be coached, guided and educated about how to create a long-term plan,” Dychtwald said. “What you’ve got is a population of people who have been spooked. They don’t know who to trust, who’s lying, or what people’s intentions are.” This is absolutely true in India too. Ajit Dayal of Quantum Mutual fund and Personal fn (one a full cost asset management company and the other a mutual fund and life insurance distributor!) writes a column titled “Honest truth”.

The study, called “Retirement at the Tipping Point: The Year that Changed Everything,” gathered opinions from more than 2,000 Americans from four generations. The study was conducted with Harris Interactive.

Nearly 60% of Americans lost money in mutual funds, 401(k) plans or the stock market. Respondents believe that it will take about seven years, on average, to recover losses. Among respondents 55 and older, 46% say that medical expenses not covered by insurance is a top financial worry for their retirement phase. Four out of ten respondents said they believe they will have to help support their parents, in-laws or siblings eventually. In light of their financial situations, respondents believe, they might need to postpone retirement by 4.2 years, on average.

“Personally, I think it would be a shorter recovery time, more like three to five years,” Diachok said. Of course, he acknowledged, “that is a significant amount of time if you were planning to retire in two years.”

In the survey, some Americans did express optimistic attitudes about retirement, and even saw working during their retirement years in a positive way. Seventy percent say that working in retirement is a way to remain stimulated and pay bills.   Many of them will not have a choice!

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