Financial stress affects most Americans, including most retirement plan participants

For six years, John Hancock has surveyed retirement plan participants to learn how their overall financial situations and retirement savings affect each other so we can come up with relevant solutions for both.

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Finances continue to cause stress, in spite of improving financial conditions

More people have a good to
excellent financial situation.

    2014: 55%    

2019: 64%

More people feel stressed
by their finances.

    2014: 66%    

2019: 68%

More people worry about having
financial difficulties.

     2014: 60%    

2019: 71%

Lack of financial literacy keeps people from improving their financial situation


are very knowledgeable about managing debt


are very knowledgeable about budgeting


are very knowledgeable about personal savings strategies


are very knowledgeable about retirement savings strategies

Financial stress has a cost to the employer

Almost half of workers say they’d be more productive at work if they weren’t worried about their personal finances.

Almost half say they spend time on their personal finances at work.

5% of participants have missed a day or more of work in the last six months due to financial stress.

People have trouble with the basics of personal finance

The top three financial worries are:

Retirement savings

Emergency savings

Job security

A quarter of participants have no emergency
savings, including:

16% of baby boomers

31% of Generations X, Y, and Z 

Retirement savings are falling behind 


of participants are behind schedule with their retirement savings



of participants are on track with their retirement savings



of participants are ahead of schedule with their retirement savings 


People need advice

Almost two-thirds of participants would like to get investment advice.

  • 46% use their own discretion in choosing their investments.
  • 26% use a broker/advisor.
  • 23% don't pay attention to their retirement investments.
  • 16% use online tools.

quarter of participants overall work with a financial advisor, and usage goes up with age.

  • 12% of Generation Z
  • 12% of millennials 
  • 21% of Generation X
  • 36% of baby boomers

Financial wellness programs help


About 7 in 10 workers feel financial wellness programs have helped reduce their financial stress and have increased their loyalty to their employer 


Workers with access to a financial wellness program worry less about:

Not having enough retirement savings

Not having enough emergency savings

Having financial difficulties

Their overall financial situation

Important disclosures

John Hancock and Greenwald & Associates are not affiliated and neither is responsible for the liabilities of the other.

John Hancock's sixth annual financial stress survey, John Hancock, Greenwald & Associates, 2019. A survey of more than 3,500 workers to learn more about individual stress levels, their causes and effects, and strategies for relief.

The content of this document is for general information only and is believed to be accurate and reliable as of the posting date, but may be subject to change. John Hancock does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice (unless otherwise indicated). Please consult your own independent advisor as to any investment, tax, or legal statements made here.


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