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Staying Financially Sound in the New Year
By Brian W. Carter (Staff Writer)
Published February 10, 2011

Merrill Edge conducted a survey, which revealed some interesting results among Los Angeles residents.

By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer

The recent recession hit like a ton of bricks and many people were left sore and broken. Many people lost stable jobs and as the landscape for health insurance and retirement changes, people are beginning to think differently. As we begin to rise up from our injuries, it seems that now more than ever is time to aim for financial security.

The Merrill Edge Report, which is a Bank of America Survey, conducted a query that examined the financial status of the growing group of “mass affluent” consumers in the greater Los Angeles market.

The report established that rising health care costs was the highest interest to 71 % of people surveyed. Also according to the survey, 59 % of people want to ensure their retirement savings will last throughout their lifetime. The survey shows that people are now beginning to save and take their financial goals seriously.

Some of the key findings from the survey include:

– Fifty-seven percent of mass affluent in Los Angeles believe it will be harder to save for long-term goals, like retirement and education savings, in five years than it is today (63% nationally)

– Younger mass affluent (ages 18-34) are more optimistic, with 50 percent locally responding that it will be easier to save for the long-term five years from now (29% nationally)

– Thirty-five percent are low-risk investors and nearly 43 percent said they are more conservative with their investment decisions today than they were a year ago (35% and 45%, nationally, respectively)

– While 60 percent of Los Angeles mass affluent surveyed have a total household income in excess of $100,000, 41 percent believe they will never be wealthy (75% and 45% nationally, respectively)

– Forty-nine percent of Los Angeles mass affluent are concerned about being able to afford the life they want to live in retirement (58% nationally)

– Seventy-four percent of local mass affluent believe that people with higher investable assets have greater access to banking and investing advice (73% nationally)

“Most people, with their outlook on their financial goals, is that they realize that their future is in their own hands,” said Camille Winfrey, Financial Advisor for Merrill Edge. “No longer are people relying on their employer, or the government to provide for their retirement future.”

Winfrey explained that people are becoming more disciplined financially speaking,  especially with holiday bills and taxes right around the corner. “I’m seeing a lot of people come to terms with their own financial picture and start to ask for guidance.”

The report also showed that a lack of information and planning has also led to many people dipping into long-term savings in order to pay for everyday bills like groceries and utilities. “When you don’t have a plan, you really don’t know what you’re next step is going to be,” said Winfrey.

Having a plan in place is the one key Winfrey stressed people must have in order to be financially successful. “What we look for is for people to learn, plan and act,” said Winfrey.

You want to learn how to appropriately allocate your assets and plan on having emergency cash…and then of course act on it. If you say you’re going to cut certain expenses per day, or per month and  to make sure to keep that plan in place.”

Winfrey advises that people seek out help from financial advisors when unsure how to go about securing a good financial plan. Winfrey asked for people to “seek advice from a qualified financial professional.” Hopefully, people will continue to take their money seriously and continue to set short and long term goals for their money and future.


Categories: Finance

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