ING Study: Most Teachers Lack a Plan for their Financial Future

November 17, 2010 Windsor, CT Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

New data from the ING Retirement Research Institute sheds light on the financial behaviors and realities of K-12 educators


Having a class lesson plan is essential for most K-12 teachers.  However, new research from ING shows that these same educators have been neglecting another important plan—one that prepares them for their financial future.

According to the findings, very few teachers (15%) said they’ve developed a formal, written financial plan.  That means a significant number (85%) are lacking a crucial road map on their road to retirement.  Additionally, a majority have put little or no effort into calculating their retirement needs.  Nearly three in ten (29%) have never even thought about it.

The recent study1, conducted by the ING Retirement Research Institute in conjunction with market research firm, Synovate, polled more than 1,000 K-12 teachers across the country.  The goal was to learn more about their views and attitudes on a number of personal and financial topics, including planning and preparing for retirement.  The respondents—full-time teachers between 20 and 70 years of age—represented a cross-section of the more than 3.5 million K-12 educators in our nation’s public and private school systems.2 

“Teachers play such an important role in preparing our young people for the future; we're concerned that they aren't taking the time to best prepare for their own future,” said Brian Comer, president of Public Markets for ING U.S. Retirement Services.”  Our goal is to change this trend, by providing the more than 660,000 teachers we serve with the tools, resources and education they need to create a comprehensive financial strategy for retirement.”

ING’s research offers a unique look at a group that has long relied on traditional pension plans as a main source of retirement income.  As more pension programs scale back on benefits, educators must increasingly look to voluntary savings vehicles, such as employer-sponsored 403(b) plans, to supplement these assets.  Learning about the financial behaviors of the American workforce, and what can encourage greater retirement preparedness, is a primary goal of the company’s research and advocacy efforts.

Other key findings from this study include the following:

  • Views on Financial Literacy:  When asked to rank the most important issues facing Americans today, interestingly, educators as a whole did not view financial education and literacy as a top priority for the government to address.  Still, over half (51%) believed this subject matter was important to include in a student’s curriculum.  Very few (only 5%) thought financial literacy had no place in the classroom.
  • Expected Retirement Age:  Respondents appeared to be fairly pessimistic about their retirement age.  Very few teachers (16%) were expecting to retire earlier than age 60.  Even more telling—nearly three in ten (29%) were either unsure when they could retire or believed they would not be able to retire at all.
  • Pension Benefits:  Most respondents (72%) expected to receive a traditional pension from their employer.  Of those eligible for this benefit, a majority (68%) believed it would make up at least half of their retirement income.  However, more than half (54%) lacked confidence in the reliability of that income during retirement.  And more than four-in-ten (41%) didn’t know how their pension benefit would be calculated.
  • Retirement Plan Participation:  Roughly two-thirds of the teachers polled (68%) confirmed that they were investing in a voluntary retirement plan through their workplace (such as 403(b) plan).  Yet, of this group, over half (56%) wished they could invest more into these accounts, but for various reasons did not.

“While many teachers are fortunate to have traditional pensions, these programs—along with Social Security—are under increasing pressure,” noted Comer.  “Like all working Americans, it is important for these professionals to create a plan for their financial goals and to understand how additional saving strategies, such as contributing to an employer-sponsored 403(b) plan, can help fill the gaps.  At ING, we’re committed to helping our nation’s educators as they prepare for their future retirement.”

ING has been in the retirement services industry for over 40 years, and provides support and resources to approximately 7,800 K-12 school districts and more than 1,350 higher education plans across the country.  As a leader across all market segments, ING is one of the few providers that serves all types and sizes of customers, including corporate, government, healthcare, K-12 and higher education employers.

For more details on these findings, or for other original research, please visit the ING Retirement Research Institute at and select the “publications” page.

1.  The web-based survey was conducted for the ING Retirement Research Institute by market research firm, Synovate, between May 27 and June 1, 2010.  Respondents were 1,016 individuals between the ages of 20 and 70, currently employed full-time by public or private schools and working as a teacher/instructor in Kindergarten through grade 12.  The results of this survey are reported at the 95% confidence level and with a margin of error of +/-3% for the overall sample.

2.  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008.


Press inquiries:

Joe Loparco
ING Americas
Office: 860.580.2677
Cell:  860.462.6525       


About the ING Retirement Research Institute

The ING Retirement Research Institute challenges the status quo in the financial services industry by leveraging pioneering behavior-based research to develop and offer unparalleled education and resources to customers. Supporting ING’s thought leadership in guiding consumers to and through successful retirement, the Institute partners with leading industry and academic authorities in the behavioral finance arena to conduct targeted market research across all segments of the retirement industry.  These findings are then used to create tools and programs that encourage and motivate positive retirement planning behaviors.  For more information, visit


About ING 

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to over 85 million private, corporate and institutional clients in over 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of more than 107,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 30 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit