The memory 2008-2009 market crash clearly continues to freak out Baby Boomers, according to a new survey by Allianz Life Insurance.
For the second year in a row, respondents were asked which they fear more: outliving their money in retirement or death. A whopping 58% said they found death more palatable than living out their last years in poverty. That was down from 61% from 2010, but still not exactly comforting to the growing number of Americans who are still not prepared for retirement.
"Unlike other bubbles (and) market downturns of the past, the downturn in 2008-2009 really left an imprint with boomers," says Katie Libbe, vice president of consumer insights for Allianz Life.
Allianz’ survey revealed that Baby Boomers are downbeat about their retirement preparedness and the market as well. For instance, two years into the recovery, they remain loath to take their chances in the stock market.
For the second straight year, Allianz’ survey found that, by a four-to-one margin, Boomers are more attracted to retirement savings guarantees than to earning potential high returns with market risk.
Respondents “are definitely displaying the same sense of worry and concern we saw last year, with high levels of uncertainty about whether income will last and how prepared they are for the future.”
Survey respondents were given a choice between a financial product with a 4% return that is guaranteed not to lose its value and one with an 8% return that is subject to market risk and loss of principal. Seventy six percent of respondents chose the guaranteed product, a percentage that was down just a bit from the 80% rate in the 2010 survey.
Allianz’ original “Reclaiming the Future” survey last year was conducted among more than 3,200 people between the ages of 44 and 75. This year’s follow-up surveyed 439 of the same participants in March of this year, when the Dow Jones Industrial average reached its highest point in nearly two years.
"We were definitely surprised that the feelings of fear and unpreparedness in 2011 were nearly identical to those from last year," says Libbe.
This year’s survey found expectations of a sluggish economy, low investment returns and delayed retirements. It also uncovered pessimism about retirement preparedness. In 2010, the average age of expected retirement was 63, but by this year that average had jumped to 66.5.
Libbe says she was struck by the continuing gap between what boomers say they want and what they’re doing to achieve it. Case in point: 81% of Boomers say one of their most important financial goals is a stable, predictable standard of living throughout retirement, yet 28% say they would never consider getting an annuity, she notes.
"Clearly, more education about the advancements made with annuities in the last few years is necessary," she says.
On an encouraging note for the financial advisor community, the 2011 survey revealed an increased willingness among Boomers to work with advisors. Thirty two percent said they are receptive to working with an advisor, up from 29% in 2010. And those who said they were not receptive decreased to 21% from 25%.
Allianz, a major annuity provider, found that respondents who identified themselves as annuity owners were much more confident about retiring earlier. Seventy four percent of annuity owners said they would be able to retire between the ages of 55 and 66. Only 61% of non-annuity owners felt they could retire in that age range. Furthermore, 35% of people without annuities felt they would retire between ages 67 and 76, or later, versus only 23% of annuity owners.