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BANK STUDY CONFIRMS 90 PERCENT OF AMERICANS BELIEVE FINANCIAL STRESS CAN NEGATIVELY AFFECT HEALTH


For Immediate Release


Contacts:
Tanya Peebles-Hill
(213) 236-5329
tanya.peebleshill@unionbank.com


San Francisco, January 26, 2010 --  As we enter a new decade with the hope of rebounding from one of the worst economic downturns in our history, a newly commissioned bank study confirms that nearly 90 percent of Americans agree that monetary stress can negatively affect one's health.  Even more women (91 percent) and older adults (92 percent of those 45 and older) link stress to concerns over money.  However, 60 percent of those surveyed may not be taking the necessary steps to improve financial fitness, raising questions as to whether they have the proper financial education to reach their goals.

Findings from the study, conducted online in December by Harris Interactive, also reveal differing opinions among U.S. adults according to their age about what is more important for 2010 -- while roughly 55 percent of those 18-34 rate financial fitness a higher priority in 2010, the majority of older Americans (70 percent of those 55 and older) rate physical fitness as a priority.

"It's encouraging to see that Americans want to make fiscal fitness an important part of their lives, just as they do with physical fitness," says Union Bank Executive Vice President Pierre Habis. "In both instances, the key is developing a regular routine and committing to it, so whether you're seeking to lose weight or tone your muscles or save more money this year, the results will come by sticking to a consistent regimen."

Additional results of the nationwide survey reveal that:
 
  • Sixty three percent of Americans believe it is harder today to get financially fit than it is to get physically fit.
  • The majority (61 percent) don't believe they have enough money saved in the right kind of savings account to weather a financial storm during 2010.
  • Sixty percent declared that if they had extra money, they would save it, but they lack extra funds to save at the end of the month.

"These responses indicate that a significant number of Americans may be in debt, without a clear plan to solve their financial problems," says Habis. "Ensuring fiscal fitness can be every bit as difficult as getting back into good physical shape after a long period of inactivity, and while many Americans may spend time and energy accumulating wealth, many spend little time developing a sufficient plan to offset risks they might face along the way.  With a new year upon us, we are reminded that saving for the future is essential even amidst challenging economic times, and we continue to educate our customers about saving and the importance of committing to a savings plan."


Reclaim Basic Financial Health

Americans have the potential to reach sound financial health with adequate financial guidance and professional planning.  With the goal of increasing the number of people who take concrete steps towards fiscal fitness, such as contributing to a new savings account, and/or meeting with a financial advisor to maximize their savings, Habis offers these simple tips to help consumers of all ages start saving now:
 
  • Save Automatically: Set up direct deposit into a savings account with your bank. This will force you to save money each month and is a good way to become disciplined.
  • Be a Wallet Watcher: Challenge yourself to spend only on necessities, such as rent or mortgage, transportation and groceries and trim spending on "wants." It can help jump start a long-term savings plan.
  • Track Spending: Keep track of your consumption habits with a disciplined record of where your income is allocated. Ultimately, striking a balance between instant and delayed gratification will facilitate future financial success.
  • Write it Down: Use a written plan as a visual tool to help you reach your fiscal goals. Research by the Consumer Federation of America has shown that adults who commit their plan to paper have twice as much savings and investments than those without written goals. According to the American Heart Association, this also holds true with physical health -- those who track their fitness routines and meals tend to lead generally healthier lives.
  • Involve the Family: Demystify the savings process by talking to your kids and teens about the benefits of saving for the future.

Introduce them to the family budget and help them develop their own week-specific savings goals so that they feel involved in their success. You can assist younger consumers with gathering information about market concepts that affect their work. With multitudes of informational Web sites, such as www.AmericaSaves.org there's no shortage of user-friendly education resources.
 
  • Know Your Net Worth: In an ongoing commitment to staying informed about your personal finances, knowing your net worth is an essential piece of the puzzle. Using this number as a guideline, you can develop a plan to increase your net worth this year.
  • Review Your Portfolio: A comprehensive review of your investments is key to understanding all the angles of your financial picture. Make sure your portfolio is balanced and diversified.
  • Estimate Retirement Needs: Establish a long term budget and don't underestimate how much incidentals like retirement hobbies and travel may require in your plan.
  • Meet with a Professional: Develop a relationship with a financial advisor to help guide and track your progress. Just as fitness trainers or your physician may help support your health goals, a financial planner can help "train" you to save consistently.

Staying Healthy in a Down Economy

The study also shows that U.S. adults who routinely participate in activities to stay physically fit may be in better financial shape than those who don't as they are:
 
  • More likely to believe they have enough money saved in the right kind of savings account to get through the next year if they needed access to their money;
  • Better prepared to weather a financial storm;
  • More likely to have extra money left at the end of the month to save;
  • More likely to take several actions to secure sound financial health including: putting more money away in existing accounts; opening new accounts to contribute to regularly; and meeting with a financial advisor.

The American Heart Association champions walking because it has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity, and it can be done anywhere at any time. Studies have shown walking can help reduce stress, provide more energy and enhance mental well-being. Research also shows that 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day can reduce your risk of coronary disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, help maintain body weight, lower your risk of obesity and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.

"Sound financial planning and good physical fitness can make a huge impact on your overall health, so make sure to include both on your list of resolutions," says Habis. "Develop detailed questions to share with your financial planner and physician and schedule an appointment with both." 


Methodology

Harris Interactive® fielded the study online on behalf of Union Bank, N.A., from December 4-8, 2009, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,476 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population aged 18 and older on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.


About UnionBanCal Corporation & Union Bank, N.A.

Headquartered in San Francisco, UnionBanCal Corporation is a financial holding company with assets of $78.2 billion at September 30, 2009. Its primary subsidiary, Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service commercial bank providing an array of financial services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. The bank has 337 banking offices in California, Oregon, Washington and Texas and two international offices. UnionBanCal Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG, NYSE:MTU), one of the world's largest financial organizations. Visit www.unionbank.com for more information.


About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us -- and our clients -- stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.