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News Release

New Research Confirms Americans Are Not Prepared for Retirement

May 08, 2019

CFP Board/Morning Consult Survey also reveals Americans need more reassurance about ways to save for their post-working years

Despite one of the strongest economies in decades, only 1 in 4 Americans feels financially prepared for retirement, according to new research released today by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), in collaboration with global research firm Morning Consult. 

Nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) also do not feel reassured that they have the best retirement savings strategies available to them. This may be a result of consumers not knowing what options exist as 3 in 10 do not know if their current employer offers a retirement savings plan and 1 in 4 say saving for retirement is too complicated.

The CFP Board/Morning Consult Survey was conducted as part of a new effort by CFP Board to identify challenges to the current retirement system and develop recommendations for policymakers to improve it.

A report commissioned by CFP Board and drafted by Fred Reish, an internationally known expert in retirement issues and partner at Drinker Biddle, will be released by the end of the year. The report will be informed by a Retirement Issues Working Group, which is a blue-ribbon panel of CFP® professionals providing on-the-ground, practical experiences with retirement security issues.

“With so many Americans getting a late start on retirement savings, the odds are high that they will be unprepared to maintain the lifestyle they’re accustomed to living,” said Kevin Keller, Chief Executive Officer of CFP Board. “Americans know how important it is to save for retirement, but the truth is more than a third of those surveyed are overwhelmed by the process and, critically, many do not understand what products and resources are available to them.” 

Despite this, 60 percent of Americans who report receiving retirement advice from a financial professional say they have “definitely” benefitted from this service. Additionally, more than half (54 percent) of Americans believe they would benefit from receiving retirement savings advice from a financial professional, if they decided to use one in the future.

The survey also showed that nearly half of Americans (49 percent) think adults should start saving for retirement in their 20s, but few follow their own advice. More than 1 in 4 (26 percent) delay saving for retirement until their 30s, while another 15 percent wait until their 40s. Most alarming, approximately 1 in 10 Americans (8 percent) wait to start saving for retirement until after 50 years of age. 

“The nuances to retirement savings vary based on circumstantial factors, such as what you can afford to save and what savings programs are available to you,” Keller said. “This survey shows there is still a lack of clarity about what options are available to retirement savers, including ethical and competent financial advice. It’s time for Congress, the Administration and other stakeholders, including CFP Board, to come together to develop new solutions to meet the retirement crisis that we will inevitably face.”

For more information on how to find a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, visit

Survey Methodology 
This poll was conducted between April 10-April 12, 2019 among a national sample of 2200 Adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.


Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is the professional body for personal financial planners in the U.S. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms and consumer groups as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by more than 83,000 people in the United States.


Dan Drummond, Director of Communications
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