It’s become commonplace to criticize the boomer generation for failing to adequately plan for retirement. These flower children of the 1960s, the usual criticism goes, have added the timidity of age to the carelessness of youth when it comes to readying themselves for the future. Looking through their rose-colored granny glasses, the self-absorbed hippies who thought they’d never grow old now face golden years shot through with corrosion, when their lack of preparation will lead inexorably to an old age of uncertainty, infirmity, and the ultimate indignity for these descendants of Peter Pan–not being masters of their own fate.
Just as not everyone who came of age in the ’60s embraced the counterculture, most of the members of the generation that will begin hitting traditional retirement age in 2008 are solid citizens who grew up, worked hard, and did change the world, if only modestly, by absorbing and then putting into practice some of the best lessons they heard preached in their youth, including greater tolerance for folks who didn’t share their gender or race or ethnicity or creed, and greater flexibility when it comes to workplace rules, for example, to support important institutions like, say, the family. Many of those people have at least modest sums in self-directed 401(k)s or IRAs, some have traditional pension plans, and when it comes to your clients, many have not only substantial liquid assets earmarked for retirement, but businesses they built or inherited that will be their ticket to a comfortable retirement.