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Advisors Turn to Alternatives to Protect Boomers From Volatility

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Market volatility is a major concern for advisors and their boomer clients, according to a survey released April 11 by MetLife. Most boomers expressed a lack of confidence in their investments, and wanted to learn about portfolio management strategies that could offer "more consistent returns."

Boomers are evenly split between wanting to protect against losses and participate in market gains, the survey found.

“With the market recovery, Boomers are starting to become more confident about investing in equities, but volatility continues to be top of mind and a significant concern. Our survey shows there is rising interest in exploring newer investment approaches that offer the potential to provide steadier, more consistent returns over the long term,” said Robert Sollmann, executive vice president of retirement products, said in a statement.

“In the past, these forward-looking approaches were mainly available only to large institutional investors such as endowments, but leading professional money managers are now offering more alternative products to all investors,” he added.

Advisors are ready and willing to offer their boomer clients non-traditional asset allocation models. More than half of advisors said alternative investments were an important component to manage volatility.

Advisors will have to educate their clients on alternatives, though. Almost two-thirds of boomers said they weren't sure if “retirement portfolios need to be managed differently in today’s economy.” On the other hand, 58% of boomers said they weren't sure if "traditional investment strategies" like setting up a retirement portfolio and leaving it alone for the long term were still applicable.

Boomers' interest in alternative investments, especially among young boomers, should make the job of educating clients a little easier. While 42% of boomers admitted to being unfamiliar with alternative investments, 61% of young boomers – those between ages 45 and 54 – said they wanted more information on alternatives; 54% of older boomers agreed. Boomers who consider themselves "sophisticated investors" were especially interested in alternatives, as well.

The study was conducted for MetLife by Harris Interactive in early February among over 1,000 Americans who were at least 45 years old.