Concern among affluent Americans has risen since the beginning of the year about whether their retirement assets will last and if they can afford the retirement lifestyle they envision, says the latest semi-annual Bank of America Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Survey.
Those concerned about their assets lasting in retirement jumped 16 percent, to 66 percent from 57 percent, and those worried about the lifestyle they'll be able to afford rose to 54 percent from 46 percent.
According to the report, a handful of financial, economic and political concerns may be contributing to fears over retirement security, including the national debt and ongoing budget battles, inflation, the weak real estate market, rising unemployment and interest rates. Notably, more younger people are concerned about their own debt, 61 percent in the 18-to-34-year old age group, than individuals 35 and older, 18 percent.
"Our latest survey finds that younger adults are far more concerned about their financial futures than older Americans," said Sallie Krawcheck, president of Bank of America Global Wealth and Investment Management. "This puts a spotlight on a need to meet this next generation on their terms and with a heightened sensitivity to a changed economic and financial landscape."
Released this morning, the survey examines the values, financial priorities and concerns of affluent Americans. Issues examined included rising college education costs, preparing for health care needs of aging parents, and instilling financial management and planning skills in children at an earlier age.
Money Lessons Starting Younger
The survey found that soon-to-be young adults in affluent families, at the behest of their parents, are taking on a bigger role in planning and acting on their financial future.
David Tyrie, head of retirement solutions for Bank of America, says this latest survey shows "the rise in importance between the affluent parents and their financial education of their kids."
"It's actually starting to become a trend where these parents are talking to their kids at a younger age," Tyrie said. "Here, we're picking out the age of 12, and it's mainly mothers who are doing the advising."
The greatest amount of affluent parents, 48 percent, say the life lesson most important to impart to their children is "financial know-how," eclipsing "choosing the right spouse/partner" at 36 percent and "choosing the right career path" at 24 percent, according to the survey.
Parents also say they're taking the steps to ensure that their children will be fiscally versed to make sound financial decisions in their future. Parents with a minimum of $250,000 in investable assets say they're speaking with their children about money at a young age, with 57 percent discussing financial matters with children before the age of 12, and 85 percent before the age of 18. A generation ago, just 42 percent of parents now over the age of 65 spoke with their children before age 12 about financial matters, compared to 76 percent of parents today between ages 35 and 50.
As their kids grow up, an estimated 88 percent of parents say they'll use one or more of their children's' major life milestones to tutor them on sound financial planning.
Those milestones could include paying for college (62 percent); graduating from high school or college (60 percent and 66 percent, respectively); choosing a job after graduation (54 percent); purchasing their first car (57 percent) or first home (63 percent), and wedding planning (50 percent).
"These parents are taking key milestones of their kids' life," Tyrie said. "Parents are starting to say, 'We're going to look back (at our lives) and make sure you're prepared for them.'"
Many parents, 53 percent, view their own retirement as an opportunity to have a discussion with children about long-term planning.
Affluent parents are also parlaying their business relationship with a financial advisor to help educate their children about financial matters. Among parents who work with an advisor, 64 percent have shared with their children some form of advice received from their advisor, such as investing for retirement early in life (47 percent), and the importance of managing a budget (40 percent) and debt (26 percent).
According to the survey, one in five parents age 51 and older has invited their children to participate in a discussion with them and their financial advisor, and 42% of those who haven't invited their children or parents to such a discussion would consider doing so.-- Jim McConville