Yes, the boomers are coming. In fact, millions have already punched their retirement ticket and millions more would have followed if not for the messy financial meltdown of 2008, which shrank their savings and kept them working longer than they would have liked.

The market swoon not only hamstrung the boomers financially, it also, at least to some degree, reshaped their personalities, according to separate boomer studies from Allianz Life and MetLife Mature Market Institute.

Before 2008 we thought we knew the boomers. They were easy to categorize. They were the resilient, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants risk takers, who’d get knocked down and get up. They could go belly up in that scheme to build a water park in Arizona and they’d dust themselves off and head back to the savings and loan for the next wide-eyed financial adventure.

They were the optimistic types who grew up as the first wave of television watchers, having their fertile minds shaped by heroic Westerns where the good guy won out over insurmountable odds. And where dads like Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady always had a gentle smile and fatherly advice that could help them overcome any childhood trauma that appeared onscreen during those halcyon days.

Yeah, those were our boomers. We loved those guys and gals. So easy to put in their neat little corners,
they were a market researcher’s dream. They were finally getting comfortable, a little too comfortable, when 2008 swept in. And we learned something: Maybe we didn’t know the boomers anymore.