How’s Your Retirement Literacy?


Would you rather be confident—but ultimately wrong—or admit you need the specialized expertise that could save your retirement?

It’s not unusual to see studies showing a lack of retirement know-how among working Americans. But researchers figured when they narrowed the pool of respondents to those currently in or near retirement age, the results would improve.

So imagine the disappointment of experts at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa. They recently conducted a ‘retirement literacy’ poll of over 1,000 people between the ages of 60-75 years old—and found that only 20% could muster a passing grade.

Those who participated in the survey were asked 38 questions on what experts consider ‘retirement literacy basics.’ The inquiries covered topics including Social Security, life expectancy, IRAs and life insurance.

“I wouldn’t say we’re surprised by the results,” admitted Jamie Hopkins, Assistant Professor of Taxation at the American College. “In general, we know that people lack knowledge when it comes to retirement income and planning. But we did hope that this particular group might fare a little better on the test.”

In this recent, exclusive interview for The Crash Proof Retirement Show, Jamie Hopkins discussed his passion for preparing individuals for their retirement.


[click Play button above to hear a clip from Phil Cannella’s interview with Jamie Hopkins]

But as he indicates, this is not the first report to raise concerns about Americans’ readiness for their golden years. But with the prevalence of company-approved 401(k) plans and IRAs in today’s world, more and more people are ‘on their own’ when it comes to retirement.

“The one thing that was really surprising to me was the confidence people expressed,” said Professor Hopkins. “We had people respond to these questions, and they were confident in their knowledge—but in reality, they didn’t know. They were getting the answers wrong.”

“A lot of Americans—of all ages—didn’t have the best financial role models,” personal finance guru Lynette Khalfani-Cox told USA Today. “Nor do we get any formal training or teaching in the area of investments, Social Security, long-term care and related topics. It’s very difficult for the average 60-year-old to stay on top of the stock market, to fully understand the variety of annuities offered in the marketplace, and to also navigate issues like life insurance, taxes and medical insurance planning.”

Jamie Hopkins added that the survey underlines the clear need for Americans to begin their retirement-specific education at a younger age. He also pointed to financial advisors as a group who could do a better job in this area.

In another clip taken from his recent interview on The Crash Proof Retirement Show, Professor Hopkins shared his personal advice for retirement preparedness.


[click Play button above to hear a clip from Phil Cannella’s interview with Jamie Hopkins]

For Professor Hopkins, who serves as the Assistant Director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income, the results of this latest poll proves that the specialized knowledge of Retirement Phase Advisors is paramount to improving the retirement literacy of Americans.

“People just aren’t armed with the knowledge they need on insurance, Social Security and annuities,” he summarized. “They need access to someone who does understand, someone who can show them what they don’t know.”


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