I entertain you, will you save for retirement?
boomers aren't interested in getting educated about finances. They want to be
entertained, according to an expert from the financial services industry who spoke
recently at a retirement conference.
Yes, boomers are fascinated with fear, the speaker
said, but not fear of their own dire financial situations. They'd rather be gripped
by vicarious fear, the kind that involves something bad happening to someone else.
They love to escape in scary plot twists of films or books, she said. About their
own prospects, they're optimistic.
She advised the retirement services professionals
in attendance to "make messages more fun ... build on optimistic
attitudes ... put a 'buy' face on savings." In other words,
make saving seem more like a purchase than an important goal. Americans
love to shop. Sell them dreams, not scarcity scenarios.
In fact, a couple of surveys released in recent weeks
confirm that Americans do tend to be optimistic, perhaps to a fault. I'll highlight
some findings and then share a fictitious vignette intended purely to entertain.
an online brokerage firm, conducted its first survey
exploring investing confidence levels as they pertain to men and women. Its cornerstone,
though not-surprising, discovery: Women are less confident than men. I don't really
want to focus on that, to be honest. Confidence is an erratic state of mind that
can shift from one minute to the next. For instance, I feel much more confident
after a good night's sleep or after a satisfying meal than I do when I'm exhausted
or hungry. Also, it's widely known that hormones affect confidence levels. The
biggest confidence booster is testosterone, of which men have more; women, less.
Confidence levels, however, aren't necessarily correlated
with competence. But competence wasn't measured in the survey. For instance, we
don't know anything about how the portfolios of men fared versus those of women.
intrigued me about the survey was that the proportion of income that was saved
or invested last year was virtually identical among males and females in the boomer
segment, as shown in the chart below.
Income saved/invested in 2005 among 45-
|Percentage of income
Here's what gives me that scary "yipes"
feeling: Nearly two-thirds of boomers saved less than 10 percent of their incomes
last year. Yet confidence levels are high among boomers in that age segment: 69
percent of men are very or somewhat confident they will achieve their investment
objectives, versus 58 percent of women.