The generation of Americans that follows the much-ballyhooed baby boomers are saving earlier for retirement, don't expect the Social Security system to provide them with much relief during retirement, and are more likely than their older counterparts to acknowledge they need help from a professional to plan their investments. These characteristics of the so-called Gen Xers are just a few of the many interesting findings coming out of the fifth annual Across Generations survey conducted for New York Life Investment Management's Mainstay Investments division in April and May of this year. Beverly Moore, managing director of wealth management at Mainstay, said the survey's findings, combined with a national savings rate of 1.4%, continue to support the notion that Americans in general and boomers in particular "are not really good at deferring gratification," Those who are putting money away are tending to keep a larger portion of it in cash, according to the survey. Compared to last year's findings, all ages are also more likely to consider themselves "conservative" investors: 26% of GenXers (age 26-40) reported their investment styles as conservative in 2005, up from 19%, while 40% of boomers (age 41 to 59) and 49% of matures (60 to 82) identified themselves as conservative investors, up from 28% and 39%, respectively, in 2004. Moore is troubled by such a big shift in style over such a short time.
"Investors who change their investment approach--and shift assets as a result--based on the recent history in the capital markets are far more likely to do damage to their long-term financial well-being than those who follow a comprehensive financial plan," she argues. "We're seeing a real disconnect between investors' attitudes and their lifetime goals. They're driving by the rear-view mirror."