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Baby boomers prize financial certainty above all else, survey shows

June 25, 2011|By Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times
  • Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. A survey showed that baby boomers remain shell-shocked by the devastating bear market that ended in 2009, despite the impressive rebound in stock prices since then.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. A survey showed… (Jin Lee, Bloomberg )

Baby boomers remain shell-shocked by the devastating bear market that ended in 2009 — despite the impressive rebound in stock prices since then.

According to a survey by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, the generation that couldn't get enough of dot-com stocks in the late 1990s and McMansions a few years after that now prizes financial security above all else.

A vast majority of those surveyed said they would prefer low-yielding but stable investments over those with better profit potential but more risk.

Asked to choose between a financial product with a guaranteed 4% yield versus one that could earn 8% but might lose value in a bad market, 76% favored the no-risk option. The survey of adults 44 to 75 years old was done in March before the stock market's recent jitters.

"This new study confirms that a 'new normal' mind-set has dug deep roots in the minds of boomers," said Gary C. Bhojwani, Allianz Life's chief executive.

With their investment portfolios still recovering from the downturn — and the uncertain economy squeezing their job prospects — boomers are growing anxious about their retirement.

Of those surveyed, 35% said that financially speaking they felt "totally unprepared" for retirement, according to the study. About half said they were extremely concerned that they might outlive their retirement savings.

So what's their retirement strategy? Simple: Work longer. On average, boomers expect to retire at age 66.5, a full 3.5 years later than when the same question was asked in a survey 12 months earlier.

walter.hamilton@latimes.com

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