ING Survey: Higher Education Employees More Worried About Retirement Today, Yet Few Are Changing Strategy

February 2, 2010 Windsor, Conn. Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

According to a recent survey conducted by ING’s U.S. Retirement Services, those employed in the higher education community are growing more nervous about their ability to retire comfortably — yet few are changing their retirement strategy in this challenging environment.

The web-based survey1, conducted in conjunction with the market research firm Synovate, polled retirement plan participants employed at colleges, universities and post-secondary schools around the country to learn more about their views and attitudes on planning and preparing for retirement. The men and women who responded were varied in age, salary and job function.

The survey found that nearly two-thirds of those responding (62%) were less confident today about living comfortably in retirement than before the financial market decline in 2008. However, roughly the same amount (63%) said they did not expect to delay their retirement in light of the market events.

And while a similar number (64%) said they had calculated their retirement income needs at some point in life, nearly one-third (30%) had not done so within the past year. An even greater amount (36%) had never calculated those needs at all.

Additionally, a significant amount (40%) stated they had never changed their retirement plan investment mix, while nearly three in 10 (28%) had not changed this allocation within the past year. Separately, of those who said they did not seek advice from a financial professional, only about one-quarter (26%) indicated they would consider doing so since the market decline.

“This study demonstrates that more can be done to help higher education employees better understand how to prepare for and reach their retirement goals,” said Brian Comer, president of Public Markets for ING U.S. Retirement Services. “Like many others in the workforce, a considerable number of education employees may require more guidance than they realize to assess retirement income needs, put a plan together and adjust their strategy to manage lifestyle and market changes. Working with a trusted professional can help employees become better educated to make decisions and improve their chances of achieving a successful outcome.”

Many respondents added that plan providers could help them better manage for retirement by offering more advice, information and proactive communications. On a positive note, the survey found that a majority (55%) of those aged 55 and over did in fact seek retirement advice from a financial professional.

“This is a trend in the right direction,” Comer added. “But it raises the question of whether their outcome could be better by getting advice at a younger age.”

This survey coincides with ING’s recent formation of a new business development team set up to serve higher education retirement plans across the country and to identify new opportunities for this segment of the 403(b) defined contribution market. It further underscores ING’s commitment to academic professionals as they prepare for retirement, and builds upon more than 40 years of experience in this area.

“ING offers a complete package of services to meet the needs of higher education plans, including comprehensive products, participant education, expanded administrative offerings and experienced local financial professionals,” noted Comer.

ING is one of the top 4 providers to higher education retirement plans in the industry.2 The business serves education employers and customers across all 50 states, with offices and representatives in the local communities where it does business. It is also a provider for 15 government-sponsored retirement plans offered to state university systems.

ING’s U.S. Retirement Services is part of ING’s global insurance operations. The business holds top rankings in the defined contribution industry and has more than $285 billion in combined assets under administration and management. It is one of the few providers with a scaled leadership presence and the ability to serve all sizes and segments of the defined contribution market, including corporate, government, healthcare, K-12 and higher education.

The survey is part of ING’s ongoing effort to learn more about the many facets of the defined contribution landscape, including the emotional and psychological factors that affect how people save for retirement. Additional research projects, studies, tools and commentary are available from the ING Institute for Retirement Research, a resource for plan distributors and employers seeking new ways to better understand participant behavior and help investors achieve positive retirement outcomes.

1. The web-based survey was commissioned by ING and conducted by Synovate via a national internet consumer panel between October 14 and October 19, 2009. Respondents included 301 individuals in the U.S. currently employed in the field of higher education (colleges, universities, technical schools and other post-secondary schools) who participate in their employer’s defined contribution plan. The results of this survey are reported with 95% confidence level and margin of error of +/-6% for the overall sample.

2. LIMRA International Not For Profit Markets Survey, Q3 2009.

Press inquiries

Joe Loparco, ING Americas, 580-580-2677 or

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 110,000 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, financial planning, and reinsurance. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 30 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit