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Seeing the Boomers' Big Picture

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The news media often lump baby boomers together when they discuss that age group. That generalization can be incorrect, particularly when it comes to understanding boomers’ attitudes toward their retirement.

“There has been a lot written about Baby Boomers and the giant demographic coming down the pike towards retirement,” says Will Prest, chief marketing officer with Transamerica Retirement Services in St. Paul, Minn. “But to paint them with one brush is probably a very large mistake. Their confidence about transitioning to retirement is influenced heavily by their change personality. “

A recent survey from Transamerica Retirements Services, the “C.U.R.E. Retirement Study” (for change, uncertainty, risk and retirement), found four distinct groups within this demographic group:

Venturers: Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Adapters: Take it as it comes

Anchoreds: Stay on the safe side

Pursuers: Pursue anything once

The groups have varying levels of comfort and knowledge regarding financial products. Consequently, they invest differently, which means that advisors need to recognize where a client falls on the spectrum to determine his or her receptiveness to portfolio management advice. The study highlights the following attitudes in each group:

Venturers: Say they understand fluctuations in investments and enjoy managing their investments. They are most likely to feel in control of their financial situation and are confident in their retirement savings.

Adapters: Are more comfortable with savings options for retirement than those with risk. When it comes to their financial philosophy, more than six in 10 agree with “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and half agree with “no risk, no reward.” However, this openness might not translate to risky investments: Over half say they are not the kind of person that takes monetary risk or chances.

Anchoreds: Show an inclination toward safety with their money; they do not see the excitement in investing or like investments with risk. Fluctuations in investments may be a concern, and they don’t particularly enjoy managing investments. They have a penchant for security that is reflected in their financial feelings.

Pursuers: Not willing to place money in risky investments, and are less prepared for their retirement. They are least likely to feel in control of their financial situation and to be confident that they will have enough money to retire. Fluctuations in investments are most likely to be of a concern for Pursuers, and they don’t particularly enjoy managing investments.

Prest notes that it’s not a matter of neatly classifying clients into boxes on a grid, since attitudes tend to move along a spectrum. Instead, it’s beneficial to recognize the fact that two clients with apparently similar circumstances and goals can have very different attitudes.

Advisors interested in learning more about the “Change Personality” profiles can take the survey on-line at: