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Rich worry about retirement

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Posted: 3 pm ET

The wealthy are worried about retirement just as much as the rest of us, according to two recent surveys of affluent individuals. And this year, a top concern is health care coverage in retirement, likely due to all the discussion about health care reform.

In the Merrill Lynch/Bank of America Wealth Management Affluent Insights Quarterly, half of all respondents say ensuring health care coverage for all retirees should be a top concern of the administration. The youngest group in the survey (ages 18-34), were most in favor of this action, at 71 percent, while 48 percent of the oldest respondents (65 and older), expressed the same concern.

"Our take-away from the survey is that Washington is talking health care, health care, health care, and affluent Americans have heard it, but they're thinking retirement, retirement, retirement," says Sallie Krawcheck, president, global wealth and investment management at Bank of America.

The Merrill Lynch survey was conducted by Braun Research, and included a national sample of 1,000 individuals with investable assets of $250,000 or more.

A second study, the 11th annual Phoenix Insurance Companies wealth survey, shows that although 28 percent of the wealthy say they are feeling "more optimistic" about their financial situation than they were a year ago, their confidence is still not at pre-2009 levels.

Conducted by research firm Harris Interactive, the Phoenix survey included the responses of 1,835 individuals with a net worth of $1 million or more, not including the value of a personal residence.

In addition to health care, both surveys reveal an increased desire for financial planning, education and advice, with 44 percent of the Merrill Lynch respondents saying they want more information on how to save for retirement. The youngest group again came in at the highest percentage on this concern (74 percent), versus those already in retirement (33 percent).

"Traditionally, the strongest support for retirement savings had been among the older population," says Andy Sieg, head of retirement and philanthropic services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But with the loss of pensions and rise of 401(k) accounts, younger folks are now expected to take more personal responsibility for retirement and that has brought about a shift in companies seeking to provide financial education. "We're seeing the stirrings of a new era of paternalism among employers, and we see it as a positive for employees," he adds.

In the Phoenix survey, 79 percent say they receive professional financial advice on a regular basis, up from 73 percent last year, and 44 percent say they have a written financial plan, up from 39 percent a year ago.

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