Plan participants have retirement on their mind, but don't think much about their own wealth status.
It makes sense that Americans investing in a defined contribution plan would not see themselves qualifying as “wealthy”. But their level of appreciation for their own wealth status provides an interesting look at their attitudes of DC plan participants.
Spectrem’s latest DC insights series study Financial Behaviors and the Participant’s Mindset examines how defined contribution plan participants feel about investing, retirement, health, issues of national interest and wealth.
The responses regarding their wealth indicate that the more money a participant has in their defined contribution account, the better they feel about their wealth status.
There is no more clear indication of the attitude of plan participants toward their wealth status than the question asking participants to place their wealth status on a 0-to-100 scale, with “100’’ being more wealthy and “0” being less wealthy. Plan participants placed their wealth level at 48.99, obviously below the mid-mark.
It is telling that plan participants placed their parents’ wealth status above their own, at 50.19. They placed the wealth status of their spouse’s parents at well below their own, at 44.64.
The fact plan participants have a lower respect for their own wealth status could certainly provide a stepping stone to a relationship between the participant, the plan provider or a financial advisor, with the opportunity to examine and explain the participants’ current wealth status.
The wealth status question was further examined by segmenting plan participants by age. Millennials, those under the age of 36, rated themselves at 47.73, while the next Generation, named Generation X, rated themselves lower, at 46.43. The rating climbs to 51.09 for Baby boomers and 60.31 for World War II plan participants.
Female plan participants rated themselves slightly better than male participants did, 49.35 to 48.54. Historically, females tend to have a lower opinion of their wealth status than men.
It makes sense that the size of a plan participant’s account would also affect their wealth status determination. Those with less than $10,000 rated their wealth status at 41.58, while those with more than $100,000 in their account rated themselves at 55.79.
Plan participants also report a relatively low regard for their own financial knowledge. Only 54 percent indicate there are fairly knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about finance and investing, while 41 percent place themselves as not very knowledgeable and 5 percent claim they are not at all knowledgeable.
Without a strong belief in investment knowledge, it makes sense that plan participants would be more moderate in their risk-taking as it relates to investments. Exactly two-thirds of plan participants consider themselves “moderate: or “conservative” in investing, while 31 percent call themselves “aggressive” and only 3 percent are “most aggressive”.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.