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"Terrified": Nearly Half of Investors Check Retirement Balance 3 Times a Week

Levels of preparedness and confidence vary as retirement fears weigh more heavily on men than women

Investors are feeling increased pressure on their financial and retirement plans in today's turbulent economic environment, according to Nationwide's eighth annual Advisor Authority survey, powered by the Nationwide Retirement Institute. Most investors who are not retired say they are terrified about their long-term and post-retirement financial futures (51%), with nearly half (43%) checking their retirement account balances more than three times a week in today's volatile market. This habit is more common among women than men (53% vs. 34%), even though men are slightly more likely to say they are terrified about their long-term financial futures than women (55% vs. 49%, respectively).

"As the holiday season approaches, it may be best to take a break from obsessively checking retirement balances," said Eric Henderson, President of Nationwide Annuity. "This can create self-induced anxiety which can lead to short-sighted, emotional decisions. It's a habit that is unlikely to serve a constructive purpose at a time when we'd all like to be focused on recharging our batteries and being with the people we care about. If you want to take proactive steps, have a conversation with your advisor or financial professional and establish a long-term plan – or revisit the plan you already have in place to ensure it remains aligned with your goals in the current environment."

The angst generated by today's economic uncertainty is manifesting differently among men and women investors who are not retired. Although men (45%) are marginally more likely to say that they are nervous about their post-retirement financial future than women (38%), women are twice as likely to say their retirement expectations will change significantly if the U.S. economy enters a significant downturn (37% vs. 19%).

Women are a tad more likely to say that they are taking steps to adjust their retirement portfolio in light of recent market volatility (35% vs. 26% men). This proactive preparation may help explain why 41% of women agree that they feel confident in their financial plan despite market volatility, compared to just 11% of men.

Recession fears force investors to rethink retirement timing

Investors grappling with today's macroeconomic stressors are facing more uncertainty about when they will be able to retire. The number of men and women with near-term retirement plans is extremely low; just 2% of men and 1% of women plan to retire within the next five years.

The threat of a recession and high inflation are driving investors to change their current retirement plans. Inflation has led both women (38%) and men (26%) to rethink when they can retire. Women (44%) are more likely than men (28%) to agree that signs of inflation and recession have made them rethink where they can retire.

"While we expect a recession in 2023 to be more of a reset for the economy that will bring inflation back to normal, investors risk missing the eventual rebound if they sit on the sidelines in the year ahead," said Mark Hackett, Chief of Investment Research. "Although we're not expecting anything like we saw in 2008 or even 2020, now is the time for investors to be talking with their financial professionals about implications for their portfolio so they are prepared."

Contrasting levels of confidence

Investors have varying degrees of confidence in their retirement plans. Again, men not yet in retirement are a bit more likely to say they are very nervous about spending down their nest egg in the current market environment than their female counterparts (43% vs. 38%, respectively). And although less than a quarter (24%) of all investors preparing for retirement say they currently have enough guaranteed income in their retirement portfolio to weather a recession, non-retired women are much more likely to say they have enough income in their retirement portfolio to survive a recession (38% vs. 13% of men).

Advisors are feeling the stress

Advisors and financial professionals are feeling their clients' anxiety as well. One third of advisors (34%) say their pre- and recently retired clients are canceling or delaying retirement. Only 17% of advisors say that most of this group of clients has contingency plans for a major market downturn. Despite their pre- and recent-retiree clients apparent lack of preparation, only 23% of advisors describe this cohort as "very anxious" about the current market environment.

"According to our data, some advisors may be underestimating the level of anxiety their clients are living through," Henderson said. "Advisors and financial professionals should seize the opportunity to engage with their clients to reinforce the importance of sticking to their long-term plan. Another way to address client anxiety about forces beyond their control is to help them understand the value of protection solutions, like annuities, that can guarantee income in retirement and guard against market volatility," Henderson said.

For additional insights on this survey data, visit

Nationwide's eighth annual Advisor Authority study powered by the Nationwide Retirement Institute® explores critical issues confronting advisors, financial professionals and individual investors—and the innovative techniques that they need to succeed in today's complex market.

About Advisor Authority: Methodology

The eighth annual Advisory Authority Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Nationwide Advisory Solutions from July 27 – August 16, 2022 among 506 financial advisors and 521 investors with $10,000+ investable assets, ages 18+. Investors are weighted where necessary by age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, income, marital status, household size, investable assets and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas: building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nationwide Investment Services Corporation (NISC), member FINRA, Columbus, OH. Nationwide Retirement Institute is a division of NISC.

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This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be used to make a buying decision. If you would like to speak with a financial professional, please use Annuity Alliance’s contact form.