Young people are now more financially conservative than their parents, the retiring baby boom generation, says the latest Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Quarterly.
The report defines affluent as those with $250,000 or more to invest and has several striking revelations in addition to the young people's trend to financial conservatism, say a group of analysts who discussed the survey in terms of what it means to financial advisors.
In every category of the 1,000 people surveyed, those 18 to 34 years of age were more conservative or more concerned than their parents about such things as assuring that their assets would last a lifetime, that they would be able to live the lifestyle they wanted in retirement and that they would be able to meet their financial goals.
"The definition of retirement is changing from what it was in the 1950s and 1960s," says Andy Sieg, head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Retirement & Philanthropic Services. "Most people expect to work longer and most register concern about health care costs as their biggest worry. Planning for health care and preserving wealth are two sides of the same coin that financial advisors need to factor in to their planning.
"In the next 10 to 20 years, it is going to become just as important for companies to become age-friendly, just as they have now have become more environmentally friendly," Sieg adds.
Sieg says that despite concerns, 44% of those surveyed say they feel better about the future and they expect to pare down their debt in the next year. More people are turning to financial advisors for advice for help with this.
"There is a spike in the middle years (39 to 51 years of age) when people now talk to their advisors on a monthly basis," adds Lyle LaMothe, head of U.S. Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
"Financial advisors are becoming more life coaches in every area: spending, debt, health care, cash flow," Lyle says.