NU Online News Service, June 10, 2003, 6:38 p.m. EDT – More than half of the affluent members of “Generation X” are still optimistic about their finances, but the weak economy has forced some to pull away from Wall Street, according to survey results released by New York Life Investment Management L.L.C., Parsippany, N.J.

New York Life Investment, a unit of New York Life Insurance Company, New York, uses 1967 and 1981 as the cutoff dates for its definition of Generation X, and it focuses on GenXers who have at least $50,000 in investable assets.

When researchers polled 515 affluent members of Generation X in March for New York Life Investment’s third annual GenX survey, they found that 61% are still expecting to enjoy a higher standard of living in retirement than they believe their parents have, or will have.

But 11% of the GenXers surveyed have stopped investing over the past 12 months due to market losses, up from 4% in 2002.

Only 59% of the GenXers now own non-retirement investments, down from 70% in 2002, New York Life Investment says.

Although 11% of the participants who are investing less blame their decision on investment losses, 29% blame “inadequate experience making financial choices” and 58% cite “lack of funds.”

Thirty-two percent of GenX investors now say they distrust Wall Street. The percentage who have bought mutual funds in the past 12 months has fallen to 71%, from 85% in 2002, and the percentage who have bought stocks has fallen to 47%, from 69%.

Insurance is now the most commonly purchased financial product. The percentage of survey participants who have bought it in the past 12 months has increased to 75%, from 62%.

Thirty-one percent of GenXers now describe themselves as conservative investors, up from 22% in 2002.

The New York Life Investment survey also reveals a strong correlation between financial planning and investor confidence, with 95% of GenXers who have a comprehensive plan identifying themselves as “on target” to reach their long-term financial objectives.

Half of this year’s respondents say they need “the help of professional advisors to manage investments,” up from 44% in 2002.

Among the survey’s other key findings:

The majority of GenXers doubt that the government or their company retirement savings plans will support them in retirement. Seventy-six percent doubt Social Security will help and 46% are bearish about company plans.