Employees are willing and able to save more money for retirement through their workplace retirement plans. The problem is they don’t know how best to go about it. That’s the nub of a survey released today by State Street Global Advisors, the asset management business of State Street Corp.
The so-called “action gap” surfaced multiple times in the survey. Only 33% of the participants surveyed claimed to know how to determine how much to save for retirement, even though 77% said it is important. Another example: approximately 67% of the respondents knew adjusting their investments over time is important but only 30% reported knowing how to do this. And 28% reported knowing how to make retirement savings last a lifetime even though 82% thought it is important.
“The ‘action gap’ was a key finding of our survey because it indicates that DC investors are not totally in the dark as some studies have suggested,” Kristi Mitchem, senior managing director and head of Global Defined Contribution for SSgA, said in a statement. “They clearly are aware and understand what is important to their retirement success but are confused about how to turn their understanding into informed action.”
Employees, however, are in the dark about some things, according to the findings. More than half, for example, admitted they do no know what target date funds are, or are not familiar with how they work. And approximately 40% expressed uncertainty about the risk and return characteristics of common investments founds in 401(k) plans, including international equity funds, stock index funds, and stable value funds.
To close the action gap, SSgA encouraged employers to engage with participants more regularly about retirement and to repeat messages using different media. And it urged companies to the importance of eliminating jargon.
“We need to turn confusing tasks into clear steps, not with investment lingo but with simple, clear descriptions and explanations,” Mitchem said.
The bi-annual Internet survey, conducted jointly with Boston Consulting Group, polled more than 1,000 401(k), 403(b), 457 and profit-sharing plan participants in April.