More than half (72%) of Baby Boomers say they feel financially prepared for retirement, according to the “New Generations Ahead Study” from Allianz Life. This figure rose from 58% in 2010.
The study also found that only 32% of Boomers say that uncertainty about their financial future makes it difficult to determine when and if they can retire – a drop from 50% in 2010. Moreover, the survey found 50% of Boomers feel it’s impossible to determine retirement expenses, marking a drop from 60% in 2014; and only 36% say they lack the tools needed to crack the retirement puzzle, indicating a decrease from 46% in 2014.
Allianz attributes this boost in optimism to changing financial habits among Boomers. The firm notes that “a new frugality has taken hold with Baby Boomers that is leading to a stronger sense of financial preparedness and confidence than seen in previous Allianz Life studies. With 64% of boomers noting themselves as ‘savers’ rather than ‘spenders,’ and 61% saying they always know exactly how much money is in their accounts, the formerly free-spending Boomers of the ‘Me’ generation have embraced the financial habits of their Depression-era parents – so much so that a full quarter of boomers now describe themselves as ‘penny pinchers.’”
The firm also sheds some light on how financially savvy Boomers prefer to receive advice around retirement saving. Allianz found that Boomers want phone and email communication about one to three times a month with a financial professional who can communicate with them on their terms.
Given these findings, it’s important for plan sponsors and advisers to understand the unique financial challenges Boomers face including longevity risk, predicting health care costs and developing a sound strategy around Social Security income. The uncertainty behind these financial challenges may be one of the reasons why Allianz found Boomers also prefer guaranteed products over those with risks of loss, and those who are not currently working with a financial professional would be more willing to work with one if the financial professional was able to provide a way for guaranteed lifetime income.
In fact, Allianz finds that retirement saving has taken priority with 65% of Boomers saying they see it as a basic necessity like food and housing.
“The Generations Ahead Study highlights encouraging news for boomers and proves that with proper focus and engagement, anyone can turn around a poor savings situation and start building for a successful retirement,” said Paul Kelash, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life. “Whether taking lessons from the past or forging a new path, the key for each generation is to recognize that a solid retirement plan doesn’t happen by chance, but rather with a clear process and defined actions.”
Millennials’ Spending Habits a Growing Concern
Although the Allianz study found that Millennials are generally confident about their financial future, their financial habits sketch a different story. According to the study, 63% of Millennials consider themselves spenders rather than savers, 50% say they spend more on going out than rent or mortgages, and 17% say they spend money as soon as they get it.
Despite these findings, they Millennials seem overconfident about their long-term finances. More than half (74%) feel prepared for retirement and 76% are confident their income will last a lifetime. Still, there are several ways advisers and plan sponsors can help Millennials get on the right track. For instance, leveraging digital tools may help improve financial habits as 70% of Millennial respondents already embrace online apps to help manage their money. Sixty-three percent are also comfortable using traditional money management tools such as notebooks and planners, suggesting this cohort is comfortable taking a multi-media approach to financial planning.
Honing in on behavioral finance and psychology can also benefit advisers as many Millennials say they want to learn from their parents’ financial mistakes. More than half (65%) say they are uncomfortable with debt because they saw their parents struggle with it.
Allianz says, “Despite these financial challenges, new savings strategies and a desire to avoid repeating the mistakes their parents made have had a positive effect on Millennials’ retirement readiness.”
In fact, Allianz found the median retirement savings for Millennials was $35,000. However, it was roughly the same for Generation X respondents, even though they are closer to retirement than Millennials. Allianz highlights that this generation is “lagging behind” when it comes to retirement savings.
Recent studies have highlighted the unique challenges faced by these people belonging to a group often labeled the “sandwich generation.”
“Although generations share similar hopes and fears for the future, the fact that they all approach retirement in different ways is testament to the need for more tailored planning that can address both the positives and negatives inherent in each group,” says Paul Kelash, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life.