retirement planning is a particularly prickly prospect for married couples, with only a small percentage expressing confidence in each other's abilities to manage their finances. The matrimonial discord is detailed in the firm's Couples Retirement Study. Fidelity reached its conclusions after talking to more than 500 married couples, including baby boomers and older pre-retirees. The study found that less than half of couples make routine financial decisions, such as budgeting and paying bills, together. Only 38% jointly discuss their investment and savings strategies for retirement. "A startling statistic is that if something happened to one spouse, only 15% of the couples felt that the other spouse could manage the finances," says Joan Bloom, executive vice president of Fidelity Investments Life Insurance. "The fact that people don't really understand what they own as a couple, and where assets are located, could have a serious impact on a surviving spouse." Nearly 10% fewer couples said they had taken long-term steps such as creating an estate or a retirement plan compared to 2007. "We actually thought the amount of planning people are doing for retirement would go up, given the market uncertainty, but it actually went down," says Bloom. "Money is a hard thing to talk about and I think, because many people again saw their assets going down, it made it more difficult to talk about their future, planning for it and how they are managing finances."