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The boomer bus is off the cliff

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Boomers are bummed out. They’re feeling poorer than they did a year ago. And do you remember how things were a year ago? Not so hot. So, feeling poorer than a year ago is not a good sign!

We examined new data from the January 2010 BIGresearch Consumer Intentions & Actions survey, focusing on the attitudes of better-off consumers of all generations, those who live in households with incomes over $50,000 a year, and found boomers are not in a good frame of mind. Here are a few of the key findings:

Regarding your personal wealth situation, which of the following statements best suits your feelings?

  • I feel more wealthy than I did last year at this time: 12%
  • I feel I have the same wealth as I did last year at this time: 35%
  • I feel less wealthy than I did last year at this time: 53%

That lack of money probably is affecting their attitudes about their health and jobs as well. Boomers report they aren’t happy about their health, which is no surprise considering the rising rates of obesity. And despite being the generation that defined itself through work, boomers aren’t feeling particularly chipper about their jobs either.

All things considered, how happy are you with…?

  • Your life in general: 70%
  • Your health: 57%
  • Your job: 47%

For most of their lives, boomers were notable as the most optimistic of generations. Now, as they approach the end of their working lives, boomers find themselves wallowing in the worst recession since the 1930s, having lost much of their net worth and having little time to recover. Boomers have never experienced anything like this before, and they don’t like it.

Data also revealed that Millenials (born 1982-1999) seem to be the least affected by the recession, although they are also the least satisfied with their jobs. The Silent Generation (born 1926-1938) is happier with life in general; Generation X (born 1961 to 1981) shows feelings similar to the boomers, just a little less negative overall.

What it means to financial advisors: Boomers are in a funk. Trusted advisors learn to read changes in temperament. If you haven’t had a good heart-to-heart with your boomer clients recently, now is a good time. Measure their mood. See if it’s time to reappraise financial goals. Are they inclined to invest more aggressively in the hope of making back what they have lost? Or are they looking for ways to reduce their risk? You need to find out.