The AICPA PFP Trends Survey of CPA financial planners—many of whom work with high-net worth individuals—found that more than half (57%) of CPA financial planners cited running out of money as the top retirement concern for their clients. This was followed by uncertainty on how much to withdraw from retirement accounts (14%) and healthcare costs (11%). The survey, which includes responses from 548 CPA financial planners, was fielded from February 3 to February 26.

When asked about the top three sources of clients’ financial and emotional stress about outliving their money, planners cited healthcare costs (76%), market fluctuations (62%) and lifestyle expenses (52%) as the primary issues. Additional causes for financial stress were unexpected costs (47%), the possibility of being a financial burden on their loved ones (24 percent) and the desire to leave inheritance for children (22%).

“With all of the financial uncertainty surrounding retirement, running out of money is directly tied to a number of issues that high-net worth clients are juggling simultaneously,” said Lyle K. Benson, CPA/PFS, and chair of the AICPA’s PFP Executive Committee. “To help alleviate their clients’ longevity concerns, CPA financial planners integrate tax planning strategies to maximize income in retirement. This approach considers a client’s current situation and anticipates their lifestyle spending in retirement to ensure they stay on track in the event of an unexpected life event.”

The survey results showed that unexpected events are not abstract concerns; they are having an impact on retirement planning for a large number of clients. These issues include long-term healthcare concerns (impacting 42% of clients), caring for aging relatives (28%), diminished capacity (26%), divorce (18%), job loss (18%) and adult children returning home (18 percent).

Some of these concerns are becoming prevalent. When asked to compare to client experiences five years ago, respondents reported increases in clients being unexpectedly impacted by long term health care concerns (59%), taking care of aging relatives (43%) and diminished capacity (39%). Taken together, these issues demonstrate the competing challenges individuals face when planning for their retirement and the need for sophisticated planning advice to meet their goals.

“The PFP Trends Survey found that the issues impacting retirement planning are constantly evolving, underscoring the need for a sophisticated financial plan that changes with a client’s situation,” said Jeannette Koger, CPA, CGMA, AICPA vice president of Member Specialization and Credentialing. “The AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning Division is dedicated to offering our members tools and up-to-date guidance and resources so they can continue to meet the complex retirement needs of their clients.”

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