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Couples More in Agreement About Daily Spending Than Retirement Saving

Couples need to set financial priorities, and access to advisers can help, says David Ray with TIAA.

By Rebeccca Moore editors@strategic-i.com | February 09, 2017

More than one-third (37%) of Americans say income for life is what they want most from a workplace retirement plan, according to a recent survey from TIAA.

They prize lifetime income over options like employer contributions (19%) or investment choices with strong performance (10%).

However, the survey also found people are more likely to agree with their partner or spouse on daily expenses than on retirement savings. Eighty-two percent agree on how much to spend on children (school gear, activities, etc.); 77% agree on how often to go out to dinner; and 75% agree on how much to spend on vacation, David Ray, senior managing director, head of institutional retirement plan sales at TIAA, who is based in Dallas, Texas, tells PLANADVISER.

When it comes to retirement, 74% agree on how much to save.

The good news, though, is that 59% who are married or in a relationship say they would be willing to work through their differences to reach a compromise, which can help them develop a solid strategy for retirement.

Ray says the survey reveals a need for more early engagement with couples to speak about finances. According to Ray, plan sponsors have a really big impact on this. “Employees have a lot of confidence in employers, so plan sponsors can encourage conversations with spouses and partners, and for employees to start early,” he say. “Plan sponsors can even suggest questions couples can ask, such as what do they want to achieve after working, what income will they need,?”

Couples need to set financial priorities, Ray notes, adding that plans with regard to children have a big impact on long-term and short-term goals. A positive draw for employees would be for plan sponsors to offer access to advice or education.

“We found the onsite presence of an adviser or planner to sit with participants and spouses is preferred over a group setting. Couples want privacy to discuss these issues,” Ray says. “If an employer can support that, it creates employee satisfaction and improves retirement readiness for employees. Couples need to put their financial and personal life in order, and that involves emotions.”

Ray adds that accessing retirement readiness information can help plan participants and their spouses feel more confident and develop a plan. “Without that knowledge, they are just guessing,” he says.

The survey was conducted among a random sample of 1,022 adults, ages 18 and older living in the United States, from January 12 through 16, 2017, for TIAA.