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Study: Cultural Influences Impact Retirement Planning

Non-whites most likely to rely on the media and Internet; Hispanics feel least prepared

While Americans of all backgrounds encounter barriers to saving and planning, cultural differences account for disparate experiences, according to ING's Retirement Revealed study.

The study, released in February 2012, presents findings from an October 2011 survey commissioned by the ING Retirement Research Institute, an affiliate of financial services firm ING, which examined the attitudes, behaviors and preparedness of ethnic groups regarding their future retirement. Responses were received from 4,050 U.S. adults (including 500 African-Americans, 500 Hispanics and 350 Asians) employed full time with an annual household income of at least $40,000. Results were weighted to make them representative of the U.S. population.

“All Americans face the growing responsibility of planning and saving for retirement. However, there are distinct cultural differences that may affect some groups more than others when it comes to getting or staying on the right path,” said Maliz Beams, CEO of ING U.S. Retirement.

A Daunting Task for All

All populations found retirement planning to be a daunting task. However, Hispanics felt the least prepared, with 54 percent indicating that they felt “not very” or “not at all” prepared. This compared with 50 percent of African-Americans, 48 percent of white and 44 percent of Asian respondents indicating that they didn’t feel prepared.

These feelings corresponded with the amount saved in employer-sponsored retirement plans, where Hispanic respondents reported the lowest average balances.

Average Account Balances in Employer-Provided Retirement Plans





Total (all groups)






Source: ING Retirement Revealed study.

Additional Insights

Other findings from the study include:

Non-whites were more likely than whites to turn to the Internet and media for investment information and guidance.African-Americans (54 percent), Asians (53 percent) and Hispanics (50 percent) indicated that the media and Internet were the primary source of getting advice and guidance compared to 45 percent of white respondents.

Face-to-face communication with a financial professional was ranked by all groups as their preferred source, when available, for information about their employer’s retirement plan and other employee benefits. However, Hispanics were the least likely to work with a financial professional.

Do you work with a financial professional?



Total (all groups)








Source: ING Retirement Revealed study.

The biggest barrier to savings for African-Americans was high debt, while for Hispanics, whites and Asians the biggest barrier was insufficient income.

Needing to know more about their savings options was a greater barrier to savings for Hispanics (indicated by 18 percent) than for other groups (12 percent overall).

“There are certainly more similarities than differences among the ethnic groups when it comes to retirement planning, but distinctions do exist, and understanding them can be critical to future retirement success,” said Fabian Gonzalez, vice president of multicultural sales at ING U.S.

Related Articles:

Most Dissatisfied with Financial Situation, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, January 2012

Report: Driving Improved Savings Behaviors, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, October 2011

Women and Men Differ on Retirement Plan Investments, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, February 2011

Study Finds Disparities in 401(k) Investing by Race, Ethnicity, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, July 2009

Hispanic Workers Face Retirement Savings Challenge, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, November 2006

Retirement Education: Craft Winning Programs, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, September 2004

Related Video:


Boost 401(k) Participation
Tailoring messages around age, gender and ethnicity can spur plan participation, says Dan Houston, president of retirement services at the Principal Financial Group.

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits Discipline

SHRM Online Retirement Plans Resource Page

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