The first wave of affluent Baby Boomers, those between the ages of 55 and 64 with investable assets of at least $100,000, have 12% less saved than they did four years ago, a survey of 4,000 people by Cogent Research found.

Their average retirement savings balance as of October 2010 was $708,000, down from $809,000 in October 2006.

However, among younger Boomers, those between the ages of 45 and 54, balances have increased 10% since 2006.

John Meunier, a principal with Cogent, says the older Boomers hurt their retirement portfolios by moving into lower-risk investments. The second tier were not as defensive, so their balances improved somewhat.

“We saw a significant increase among older Boomers last year in allocations to lower-risk investments just as the market was rebounding,” Meunier said. “Unfortunately, this only served to damped their ability to regain losses sustained in the downturn. In contrast to their older neighbors and friends, 2nd Wave Boomers were helped last year not only by greater overall equity exposure, but also through renewed interest and greater participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans.”

Participation in 401(k) and other workplace retirement savings plans by this younger group of Boomers, aged 45 to 54, increased from 79% in 2009 to 84% in 2010.

“It’s definitely a good sign that both retirement plan participation and contributions are up significantly over last year,” Meunier continued. “It signals that investors are once again thinking ahead and planning for the future.”

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