'Transition boomers' crave safer returns, analysis finds
Surveyed pre-retirees favor asset protection over emphasis on gainsApril 25th, 2013
Despite the stock market's recent strength, "transition boomers"those ages 55 to 65 who are closing in on retirementsaid resoundingly in a recent survey that they would protect their retirement savings with a guaranteed return rather than chancing a loss in the market.
Specifically, 87 percent of transition boomers surveyed reported being more attracted to a financial product with 4 percent return that is guaranteed not to lose value over one with 8 percent return but with the possibility of losing value due to market downturns.
That feeling was higher among: women (91 percent, versus 82 percent of men), those with under $50,000 in annual household income (92 percent, versus 83 percent of those with more than $50,000 in annual household income), and those without children at home (87 percent, versus 79 percent with children at home). Despite this attraction to guarantees, only 25 percent of respondents said they currently own an annuity, a product that can provide guaranteed returns.
The findings were gleaned from the 2013 Transition Boomers and Retirement Income survey sponsored by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, based in Minneapolis, which offers a variety of annuities and life insurance products.
"Our survey was taken when record stock market performance was generating daily headlines, showing that, regardless of how hot the markets are, transition boomers still crave protection for their retirement savings," says Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White. "There are financial products that can deliver these benefits, but the industry needs to do more to educate these transition boomers about them."
When asked what they believe to be their most important remaining financial objective before retirement starts, "increasing my savings rate" was the top response among transition boomer respondents (29 percent). However, "a withdrawal strategy that ensures I won't outlive my income" (14 percent) was ranked with near equal importance to "an investment strategy to grow my assets" (15 percent).
"Transition boomers are telling us that withdrawal strategies are as important to them as growing their assets, but the industry has only recently begun to focus on this important aspect of retirement," White asserts. "The 10 years of the transition period can be a time when boomers build in income floors as a foundation of a withdrawal strategy."
The transition boomers surveyed cited attributes that Allianz Life contends best describe annuities, with the majority (60 percent) noting that annuities can provide the "possibility of guaranteed income for life" and nearly half (49 percent) saying that some annuities can offer "predictable growth of retirement assets." Yet, overall knowledge about annuities is still low. When asked which statement best describes their knowledge of annuities, 75 percent of transition boomer respondents reported a general lack of understanding, saying either "there's a lot about annuities I'm not sure about" (37 percent) or "I haven't got a clue" (38 percent).
Allianz Life said that what it considered to be one encouraging result was in respondents' opinions about the most desirable features of an annuity.
Forty-seven percent of respondents indicated they found the "opportunity for increasing income during retirement to help keep pace with inflation" as desirable.
Recent innovations with annuities and income benefits that can be added as a rider for an additional fee offer that kind of opportunity to help keep up with inflation, the company said.
Annuity guarantees are backed by the financial strength of the issuing company.
Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a financial services provider with 142,000 employees worldwide and more than 78 million private and corporate customers.