Generation X is the undersized cohort of people wedged between far bigger generations: their boomer elders and their millennial successors. Nevertheless, they have disproportionately more investable assets ($7.2 trillion) than any other age cohort. They’re also considered more reticent and self-reliant than the gregarious baby boom generation that preceded them, which may explain why many financial advisors have overlooked the opportunity to serve this wealthy class of investors.
This is one of several conclusions from a recent survey by Weber Shandwick. The study indicates that not a single financial services company that segments its websites by generation (about half of those examined) focused on Generation X. Yet the study also finds that this generation of 60 million people, compared to 67.9 million millennials (which were defined as people born between 1981 and 1996; the U.S. Census Bureau, which defines millennials as those born between 1982 and 2000, counted 83.1 million as of June 2015) and 74.9 million baby boomers, is increasingly worried about financial security, particularly in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
No wonder why: They’re in the middle of their lives, a time busied by bustling careers and families. Many of these wealth accumulators also have accrued substantial money. At least 4.2 million people between the ages of 34 and 50 have at least $1 million in investable assets, according to the July 2014 Shullman “Luxury, Affluence and Wealth Pulse” study, although other Gen X families have much more. As their wealth increases, they’re becoming more concerned about protecting it.
Working hard to give this generation the security they seek is Ginny Biondi, a producer at Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency in Easton, Maryland. “Many middle-aged people, particularly those in this cohort, are suddenly mindful that their wealth has increased significantly, and with it their risks,” says Biondi. “Yet they’re so involved in their lives and work, they don’t realize that the insurance products they purchased when they were young may fail to address the financial exposures they now confront.”
Growing Wealth …
Regardless of their generation, all affluent individuals are concerned with how to manage their growing wealth. But for Gen Xers, their tendency toward self-reliance and modesty may get in the way of asking for advice.
For instance, while 61% and 58% of millennials and boomers, respectively, say their generations are “unique,” only 49% of Gen Xers feel the same about their own cohort, according to a June 2014 survey by Pew Research Center.
They also stand out for their hesitancy, with 44% saying they are not confident about having enough money for retirement, compared to 40% of boomers and 35% of millennials. “They’re skeptical and self-reliant [and] not into preening or pampering,” the Pew Research Center characterized Gen Xers.
They’re also willing to dig into their wallets for a good time, with more affluent Gen Xers spending $8,458 on travel annually. This equates to a per-day average expense of $627, the highest of any other cohort, according to the luxury travel agency network Virtuoso.
Biondi agrees with this finding, adding, “They’re also beginning to buy things they couldn’t afford when they were younger, such as art, jewelry, classic cars and fine wines. In many cases, they now have second and even third homes.”