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Research Says...Americans Are Ready to Rebuild Their Financial Security

The Principal launches new battle cry with America Rebuilds campaign

March 15, 2010 (Des Moines, IA) - Calling all Americans: Get an advisor. Get a plan. Get rebuilding. That's the message from the Principal Financial Group® in its launch today of the new multi-faceted America Rebuilds campaign including an online planning center at www.AmericaRebuilds.com.

"The country has been through tough economic times, but the resilient spirit of Americans is evident everywhere, including in their desire to rebuild their financial futures," said Mary O'Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, The Principal®. "There has never been a better time for people to rebuild. We can help by connecting those who need assistance with those who can provide it."

The numbers tell the story

While people are ready to rebuild, they are at different phases in the reconstruction process - some are emerging from the rubble, and some are farther along. According to the latest Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM(1st Quarter 2010) - a survey of working and retired Americans conducted for The Principal by Harris Interactive - the vast majority of American workers (84 percent) and retirees (71 percent) are beginning to take some action to rebuild their financial well-being. Since the recession began in 2008, Americans said they have started to rebuild by spending less money (62 percent of workers; 54 percent of retirees); paying down debt (45 percent of workers, 29 percent of retirees); and increasing savings in an emergency fund (22 percent of workers; 14 percent of retirees). They also sought online tools or help from a financial advisor to better manage their finances.

But the shift toward taking more personal financial responsibility did not start with the recession, it just accelerated it, O'Keefe said. Even before the crisis, people were behind in their retirement planning[1], they were spending too much, and they were in debt. Americans learned painful financial lessons as a result of the downturn, including the need to have an emergency fund[2], save more, pay off debt and protect their assets. As a result, financial behavior is beginning to shift, spurring Americans to rethink their spending and savings habits. Today more Americans say they're ready to get back on track with their savings and start the new decade on the right financial footing[3].

Help...I need somebody

The role of the financial advisor is more critical today than ever, O'Keefe said. Two major events have collided to create an enormous need for guidance: 78 million Baby Boomers are approaching and entering retirement[4] just as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression wreaked havoc on financial security. Yet despite renewed interest in their financial well-being, most Americans still do not quite know how to get there. Most do not have a plan[5]. And they don't want to go it alone. More Americans want professional financial help through a financial advisor today than just a year ago[6].

The 'New Normal?'

It remains to be seen if the shift in consumers' financial behavior will be permanent, but resources like America Rebuilds provide a place to start. "The battle cry of America Rebuilds is to build on the paradigm shift by giving Americans timely and effective information to help them make planning, saving and investing part of their DNA," O'Keefe said.

Rebuild toolbox - Online planning center

At the heart of the America Rebuilds campaign is the online hub, www.AmericaRebuilds.com, designed to engage, educate, inspire and motivate Americans to take action. The site features:

  • Educational tools, videos and guidance from third-party financial experts and advisors
  • Videos and stories of Americans and businesses at different stages of rebuilding
  • Financial calculators
  • Assistance finding an advisor
  • Financial tips and information

Time Warner partnership

O'Keefe said The Principal will drive traffic to AmericaRebuilds.com through a visible promotional partnership with Time Warner divisions, Time Inc. and Turner broadcasting, including Web content featuring financial expert Jean Chatzky. The campaign includes a category exclusive sponsorship of CNN's "Building Up America" series across CNN, HLN and Airport Networks. Chatzky conducted interviews with a number of consumers and business owners in various stages of rebuilding that will be featured as real life video stories on AmericaRebuilds.com. According to Chatzky, "It's clear that Americans - by and large - are trying to make the right financial moves. They're reprioritizing, saving more, and spending less. But it's also clear that they could use some help."

In addition to the Time Warner partnership, The Principal's rebuild advertisements will run throughout national print, broadcast, cable, financial trade and local business journals, as well as NCAA basketball and football event sponsorships.

Got mobile?

If that's not enough, The Principal has created a convenient mobile website for advisors and people on the go. The mobile site allows users to evaluate their retirement goals through a planning calculator; receive useful and entertaining information about budgeting, saving and other goals; access savings tips; find an advisor; and schedule calendar reminders to contact their advisor. https://m.principal.com/plan

About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®)[7] is a leader in offering businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services, including retirement and investment services, life and health insurance, and banking through its diverse family of financial services companies. A member of the Fortune 500, the Principal Financial Group has $284.7 billion in assets under management[8] and serves some 18.9 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit www.principal.com.

[1]
"Retirement Confidence Survey." Employee Benefit Research Institute. (2010): 43% of workers said in 2009 they have less than $10,000 in savings and investments.
[2]
Principal Financial Well-Being Index (4th Quarter 2009): 28% of workers and 22% of retirees said the top lesson learned in the past decade was having an emergency fund in the event of illness, disaster or job loss.
[3]
Principal Financial Well-Being Index (4th Quarter 2009): 2/3 of workers and 58% of retirees said they have reduced their overall spending in the past two months as a result of the current economy. 59% of workers, 53% retirees are tracking their finances more closely as a result of the downturn. Workers (74%) and retirees (77%) said they will spend less after the downturn ends. Workers have increased the amount they are saving for retirement in the past six months (18% at year end 2009 vs. 11% at year end 2008).
[4]
U.S. Bureau of the Census.
[5]
Principal Financial Well-Being Index (3rd Quarter 2009): 83% of workers with retirement savings do not have a plan for how they'll transition savings into retirement income.
[6]
"What a Difference a Year Makes: A Supplemental Report on the Impact of the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis." LIMRA International. (2009): In 2009, 61% of retirees had personal financial advisors compared to 56% in 2008.
[7]
The Principal Financial Group and The Principal are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.
[8]
As of December 31, 2009.
Questions?

Call 515.246.4907 or see the full Media Relations contact list.

Call 515.246.4907 or see the full Media Relations contact list.

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