Pre-Boomers Feel Confident

The great majority of members of the “Silent Generation” feel confident that they have enough money to live comfortably until age 85, according to a survey report released by MetLife Inc.[@@]

A total of 83% of the U.S. residents ages 59 to 71 who participated in the survey expressed confidence in their ability to cope with retirement expenses up to age 85, and many said multiple sources of income are important to maintain their lifestyles.

The national poll, was commissioned by MetLife’s MetLife Mature Market Institute and conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Washington. The survey participants included both retirees and pre-retirees.

Demographers say members of the Silent Generation, who were born during the Great Depression and World War II, are part of a generation that is much smaller than the baby boom generation.

Although boomers will face a different set of economic realities, members of the Silent Generation can offer them important lessons, according to executives at MetLife, New York.

One lesson is that the time has come to shift the focus of the conversation from retirement assets to retirement income, says MetLife President C. Robert Henrikson.

“Even those who have built a relatively large nest egg do not know how much income that nest egg will produce throughout their retirement,” Henrikson says. “In short, Americans don’t know what their savings are really worth.”

Many members of the Silent Generation already are paying some attention to retirement income planning. Researchers found that 55% of Silent Generation pre-retirees (ages 60-65) and 53% of retirees (ages 65-71) have part of their assets in annuities. About 90% of the annuities are deferred annuities.

A total of 26% of retirees who have deferred annuities have subsequently chosen to take monthly income payments from the annuities. “In addition, 12% of pre-retirees and 15% of retirees have rolled over assets from a 401 (k), 403(b) or 457 plan to purchase an immediate annuity,” according to the authors of the survey report.

Most members of the Silent Generation (68% for pre-retirees and 71% for retirees) place more emphasis on lifestyle in their spending decisions rather than on the desire to leave an inheritance.

Among today’s retirees, those who have regular income from either a pension plan or an annuity are more than twice as likely as those with neither (25% vs. 11%) to say that retirement is much better than they expected it to be.

“One of the lessons from the Silent Generation is that getting regular sources of income leads to a feeling of comfort about retirement security,” the authors of the survey report conclude.