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Report Says “Financial Jargon” Has 34% of Americans Doubting Retirement Plans


Financial jargon is so confusing that 34% of Americans say they “don’t know where to start” when it comes to retirement planning, according to a new survey from In fact, the analysis found that the majority of adults say they have no confidence when it comes to dealing with retirement planning options.

Consider working with a financial advisor for professional help in putting together or modifying a retirement plan.

What the Survey Found

The 25% of respondents to the Unbiased Retirement Confidence Survey who said they did feel confident about choosing among retirement options said their confidence was the result of working with a financial planner.

The survey also revealed that a considerable 76% of adults older than 50 who are nearing retirement expressed little or no confidence at all about the available financial options for retirement saving. In addition, just 30% of adults say they had high levels of confidence about the retirement products available to them.

“Retirement can be an overwhelming concept and it requires careful planning. Far too many people put this off until it is too late, or don’t get the right advice,” said Unbiased founder and CEO Karen Barrett. “Planning for retirement is one of life’s biggest decisions and it is certainly one of those instances where you want to consider professional guidance.”

Retirement Account Literacy

Slightly more than half of the respondents said they had a strong level of understanding when it came to workplace retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs. However, just 12% said they had an understanding of annuities, and only 11% said they had a high level of knowledge about traditional defined benefit retirement plans.

Much of that discomfort about retirement vehicles could come from the source of information used by nearly half (47%) of the survey respondents: online searches, family members and friends. Only 30% of those people surveyed said they had gotten information from a financial advisor.

The Fear of Surprises

Confusing Financial Jargon Scares 34% of Americans Away From Retirement Plans

Other retirement-related areas where respondents felt shaky was with the two largest, most unpredictable expenses in retirement: healthcare and inflation. Healthcare was cited as a primary concern by 56% of respondents who have good reason to worry. For instance, one widely circulated Fidelity study found that an average retired 65-year-old couple in 2023 may need approximately $315,000 saved to cover medical costs during retirement.

On the other hand, inflation was cited as a primary concern by 59% of the respondents. The likelihood of a steadily rising cost of living for retirees is a major focus for professional retirement advisors, who often recommend an ongoing investment in stocks to produce the investment gains required to beat inflation.

“The majority of Americans are not feeling confident about their retirement options,” said Barrett. “It also appears that many are not seeking professional help despite these concerns.”

Bottom Line

Confusion and fear that they could make a mistake with investing and saving for retirement keeps many working men and women from moving forward with retirement planning. Many experts advise people to simply get started with a workplace retirement plan or traditional IRA, noting that the worst thing workers can do about retirement planning is nothing.

Tips on Retirement

  • A financial advisor can help you answer all your questions about retirement options. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • To gauge your retirement readiness, try SmartAsset’s retirement calculator. This free tool will estimate how much you’ll have when the time comes to retire.

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