The Optimism of Plan Participants


Participants in defined contribution plans are obviously the sort to think about the future. Today, those plan participants see the future as rosy.

Spectrem’s new defined contribution plan study, Financial Attitudes and Concerns of Retirement Plan Participants, asked DC participants what they thought about their own financial future. A majority, but not an overwhelming one, said things are looking up.

Seventy-two percent of plan participants say they expect their personal financial situation to be stronger one year from now than at present. Sixty-five percent say their current financial situation is better than it was one year ago.

The segment with the most positive attitude toward their current situation are those DC participants under the age of 36. Seventy-three percent say their financial situation is improved this year over last. Only 54 percent of those participants between the ages of 36-49 say things have improved over the past year.

There is even greater optimism about the future, especially among the young plan participants. Eighty-four percent of participants under the age of 36 say they expect their financial situation to improve over the next year. That optimism drops as a participant’s age drops, down to 52 percent for those participants over the age of 64.

Budget concerns are more middle of the road. Only 52 percent of plan participants expect to have sufficient income upon which to live comfortably in retirement. Only 45 percent of participants between the ages of 50-64 feel they are financially prepared for retirement.

Forty-one percent of participants say they are not saving enough money to meet their financial goals, including 49 percent of females and 48 percent of those between the ages of 36-49.

Almost 40 percent say they are concerned about the amount of debt their household has, including 51 percent of those with between $50,000 and $100,000 in their retirement plans.