BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Employer-sponsored plans are increasingly treated as "God-forbid" income sources, "to be tapped only as an absolute last resort under the most dire of circumstances."
That's among the conclusions drawn from national focus groups convened by Hearts & Wallets, a retirement and savings research firm based in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The focus groups -- held in New Jersey, Dallas and San Francisco -- focused on investors having a minimum of $500,000 in investment assets and included preretirees and retirees.
Older Americans -- at least those who took part in the study -- also view the future as "unknowable" and question financial planners who try to help control that uncertainty.
Trust also appears to have dropped to a new low for financial services institutions and advisers over the past nine months, according to the firm.
"Older investors are gun-shy on many levels," says Chris Brown, a principal of Hearts & Wallets. "Unlike market performance, a number of uncertainties can't be mitigated with asset allocation: the risk of illness and large medical bills; adult children's job security; the capriciousness of government actions, especially on taxes. Older Americans view financial services firms as suspect if they make promises to help plan for what can't be known."