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Life After 50
Engaging the 50 plus age group including boomers, seniors and elderly seniors.

ACHIEVING FINANCIAL WELLNESS LEADING UP TO AND THROUGH RETIREMENT

Oct 9, 2013, 1:55 p.m.

By Brian Bonvechio and Daniel Pantucci, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Employees approaching retirement today face an evolving landscape. With difficult economic conditions and rising healthcare costs, those nearing retirement must make sure they are taking important steps to help ensure financial wellness both now and in the future. According to the 2013 Workplace Benefits Report study from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, employees reveal that the foundation of their financial wellness resides largely in their financial benefit plans at work.

Engaging with Workplace Benefits

Many employees are not taking full advantage of their benefit plans and run the risk of not becoming as financially prepared for retirement as they could be. One out of four “pre-retirees” – employees who indicate being within five years of retirement – expects to have less than $250,000 saved when they retire. It is not surprising therefore to find that more than three-quarters (78 percent) of all employees plan to work in some capacity when they reach their late 60’s, increasing from 72 percent in 2012.

Four-in-five employees feel that the financial benefits they participate in at work make them more financially secure and 89 percent of pre-retirees feel more secure because of their financial benefits at work. Half of pre-retirees are also taking advantage of tax-advantaged health savings vehicles as costs rise and more responsibility falls to the employee with the continued elimination of retiree health benefits provided by employers.

Eighty-four percent of employees said their employer provides some form of 401(k) match, and nearly four out of five plan participants (78 percent) contributed at least enough last year to meet the match – among pre-retirees this increases to 90 percent. However, only 37 percent of pre-retirees contributed to the maximum legal amount last year.

Preparing for Retirement

Nearly three decades ago, more employers began giving employees near-total independence to plan and save for retirement. Today, many employers are focusing on providing more support for employees to help them improve their overall financial wellness. Beyond just a 401(k) plan, we increasingly see employers offer (and employees demand) access to advice not just about retirement, but across all aspects of their financial lives and goals.

Employees can benefit from more personalized advice and guidance in order to take better control of their financial wellness. Some key steps pre-retirees can take include:

• Review your asset allocation in a retirement plan and ensuring that it is an appropriate mix in terms of risk tolerance based on personal goals and time horizons;

• Be mindful of 401(k) catch-up contributions;

• Seek education and advice, know ways in which to maximize Social Security benefits; and

• Learn about future healthcare costs and coverage options in retirement as offered by your employer, Medicare and other programs.

Workplace Benefits Report Methodology

Boston Research Group completed a national sample of 1,014 surveys for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Surveys were collected from March 6 through March 17, 2013. Employees who responded to the survey were screened to ensure current participation in a 401(k) plan. Bank of America Merrill Lynch was not identified as the sponsor of the study. No quotas were set and no weighting was necessary.

Under the leadership of Daniel Pantucci, CIMA®, and Brian Bonvechio, CFA®, The Pantucci Bonvechio Group serves a diverse group of individuals, corporations and organizations by leveraging the extensive knowledge of their team and the resources of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. They can be reached at their office in Los Angeles at (800) 288-8594 or via email at Brian_Bonvechio@ml.com and Daniel_Pantucci@ml.com.

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management makes available products and services offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (“MLPF&S”), a registered broker-dealer and member SIPC, and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation (“BAC”).

Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A., and affiliated banks, members FDIC and wholly owned subsidiaries of BAC.

Investment products: Are Not FDIC Insured * Are Not Bank Guaranteed * May Lose Value

Asset allocation does not assure a profit or protect against a loss in declining markets.

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