Los Angeles Residents Envision Financial Stress in Retirement, Retirees Worry-Free

Merrill Edge® Survey Finds Area Retirees Prove Saving Is Key to Financially Calm Golden Years

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 9:00 am EDT

Almost seven out of 10 (68 percent) Los Angeles respondents expect to be stressed about money in retirement based on how they are currently saving, according to a new survey released today by Bank of America and Merrill Edge. The latest Merrill Edge® Report reveals that while non-retirees are anticipating stress, the majority (65 percent) of retirees in the area are not stressed about finances in retirement based on how they saved.

Despite predicting stress, more than three out of five (61 percent) non-retired Los Angeles respondents believe they will have enough money in retirement due to how they are saving for it, while the vast majority of retired respondents (85 percent) report they will have enough money for the rest of retirement because of how they saved for it before they retired.

“A high percentage of Los Angeles residents are concerned that they will be stressed about money in retirement, but a surprisingly high amount of retirees in our area are feeling good about how much money they have saved,” said Joseph Santos, regional executive at Merrill Edge. “Non-retired residents can reduce their stress by preparing now and having a strategy in order to live their ideal retirement.”

Pursuing an ideal retirement without financial stress

Part of a biannual nationwide survey, the study explores opinions of Los Angeles residents with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000 and finds that area respondents are nearly just as likely to prioritize saving more for the future (56 percent) as having enough money to live comfortably today (60 percent).

Nationally, the Merrill Edge Report finds most non-retired respondents agree that an ideal retirement is one that is not spent worrying about money (77 percent) and is overall stress-free (70 percent). Los Angeles respondents who have yet to reach retirement are taking actions to get there like today’s retirees, but could do more to emulate strategies that retired Americans employed to ensure that their golden years were less worrisome:

  • Today, the most popular actions that non-retired Los Angeles residents are taking to live a stress-free retirement are funding retirement accounts (65 percent) and paying off debt (51 percent). Contributing to a retirement account (60 percent) and paying off debt (62 percent) were also some of the most common measures that retirees took to reduce strain in retirement before reaching that stage.
  • However, nearly half (46 percent) of area retirees preemptively invested as much as they could outside of a retirement account to be stress-free when they did retire, and only 31 percent of non-retired area survey respondents are doing this with the same goal in mind.

Retirees may also have something to learn from non-retirees, as the survey found only 35 percent of current retirees in Los Angeles worked with a financial advisor, while 37 percent of those who have not yet reached retirement are currently working with a financial advisor to reduce pre-retirement anxiety.

Financial fears lead to positive financial actions

According to the survey, while the majority of non-retired Los Angeles residents are actively investing for retirement, nearly one in five would still be embarrassed if their close friends or family knew specifically their retirement savings (15 percent) or checking account balance (12 percent).

Along similar lines, 37 percent of national respondents feel that they lag behind their peers in terms of financial stability, saving for the future or current income. However, those shortfalls also appear to be a catalyst for better financial planning. Area retirees and non-retirees alike have felt motivated to make positive financial decisions by financial stress (24 percent) and by seeing the successes or failures of their parents (25 percent).

For more in-depth information about the financial behaviors and priorities of mass affluent Americans, read the entire Spring 2015 Merrill Edge Report or take our poll here. See the corresponding infographic here.

Merrill Edge Survey Methodology
Braun Research, Inc. conducted a nationally-representative telephone survey on behalf of Merrill Edge. The survey was conducted from March 12, 2015, through March 24, 2015, and consisted of 1,000 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S., defined as individuals with investable assets (value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stock, bonds and all other types of investments excluding primary home and other real estate investments). Respondents in the study were defined as aged 18 to 34 (millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 to $250,000 or those aged 18 to 34 who have investable assets of between $20,000 and under $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000; or aged 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 to $250,000. We conducted an oversampling of 300 mass affluents in the following markets: San Francisco; Los Angeles; Orange County, California; Dallas; the State of New Jersey; South Florida; Chicago; and Phoenix. The markets of Chicago and Phoenix were newly-surveyed this wave. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent for the national sample; about +/- 5.7 percent for the oversample markets, all reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

Merrill Edge
Merrill Edge is a streamlined investment service that provides customers access to the investment insights of Merrill Lynch and the convenience of Bank of America banking to help simplify their financial life. With Merrill Edge, customers can see their Merrill Edge investment and Bank of America bank accounts on one page online, along with access to tools, research, support and competitive pricing for online trades. If customers prefer to receive professional advice and guidance to help simplify pursuing their investment goals, Merrill Edge Roadmap™ allows them to work one-on-one with a licensed Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™. Financial Solutions Advisors work with customers to design a personalized action plan with specific recommendations tailored to their investment needs.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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