The financial services industry has often segmented baby boomers by their ages or their asset levels.
But a new study released by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America adds a compelling twist: It breaks survey respondents into psychographic categories. So if you’re a financial adviser, the client sitting in front of you probably belongs to one of five personality groups: overwhelmed, resilient, iconic, savvy and distracted.
The categories can help to give advisers a handle on their clients and potential clients, but they can also provide some reassurance to baby boomers, said Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer marketing and solutions for Allianz Life.
“It lets consumers recognize themselves and say, ‘I’m not alone,” she says.
That might well be good news for the largest group to emerge from Allianz Life’s study: “Overwhelmed” respondents accounted for 32% of the total. These individuals feel unprepared for retirement and lack confidence in their ability to put together a strategy for their financial needs in retirement. They have the highest level of credit card debt and low asset levels. They are depending heavily on Social Security for their retirement.
Respondents in the “resilient” group made for 27% of the total. They are pragmatic and grounded, but were hit hard psychologically by the recession. The resilients have awoken to the need for better planning, while also restoring their battered portfolios. They are most concerned with outliving their income and realize they may have to work longer than expected to achieve their retirement goals.
“Iconic” respondents are those Allianz Life describes as “role models” and “true blue” retired Americans who’ve worked hard and lived within their means. The group makes up 20% of the survey respondents. Iconics are middle class, live mostly on a pension, and are extremely disciplined and traditional in their viewpoints and values. This group may have reduced some of their spending recently, but they have a clear understanding of their retirement expenses.
Fourteen percent of respondents were “savvy.” They are financially sophisticated, affluent boomers who pride themselves on having prepared well for retirement and being informed about most financial concepts. This group is living comfortably in retirement and appears to be the best-prepared of the five personalities. They are financially independent and comfortable taking risks.
At 7%, the smallest category, are the “distracteds.” The youngest of the segments, they are caught up in the complexity of modern life and tend not to focus on planning for retirement. They have the highest income of any segment and tend to spend freely—with family and home expenditures taking priority over saving for retirement. Although they have substantial assets, they may still be worried that their savings won’t have enough savings for retirement, and they have no real plan for growing those savings.
Libbe named the distracteds as the category that most surprised her. “They are being overlooked by advisers because they not seeking advisers, and don’t have time to,” she said. “The distracteds are the ones that need advisers, but you need to get in front them and find an impactful way to make them take the time to sit down and talk to you.”