You may need more than you think

Published 3:03 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wealth alone is no guarantee of a secure retirement. It’s time to start thinking about what you’ll need.

Thousands of affluent boomers and Gen Xers studied by Wharton and State Street Global Advisors expressed fears about outlasting their money.

Experts agree that wealth alone is no guarantee of retirement security; saving too little “runs up and down the income scale and wealth scale,” says Olivia S. Mitchell, an insurance and risk-management professor at Wharton. Comfortable living inevitably translates to spending. Though the wealthy save, Mitchell explained in the Wharton study, “people with high earnings also spend a lot” to keep the lifestyle they enjoy going.

Your retirement isn’t likely to be the same as it would have been 50 years ago. The old adage was that you needed 80 percent of your current income when you retire, but nearly half of the 1,800 millionaires surveyed by the 2007 Phoenix Wealth Survey said they will need more than 100 percent.

You may even be thinking of working indefinitely, at least part-time, in order to stay engaged and support a comfortable lifestyle. Also, your life expectancy has increased, even from just a generation ago.

Worried as you may be, you may not have begun planning. Fifty-nine percent of high net worth investors have no formal written plan for their retirement goals.

It’s time to analyze your retirement goals. Once you know what you want, your financial advisor can determine ways to help you get there, whether that involves altering your investment strategy, changing the amounts you contribute or something else entirely.

The retirement analysis will provide you with a full report, including savings recommendations and sources for retirement income.

Talk to your financial advisor about how a retirement analysis might benefit you.

Christopher Phillips is a financial advisor with Smith Barney in Birmingham. He can be reached at 205-969-7056 or by email at