MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--From financial crises in 2008 and 2010 that wreaked havoc with personal savings, to a severe recession in the housing market that created a double whammy to baby boomers’ net worth, the entire retirement planning landscape has changed dramatically. Yet, according to the 2012 Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) American Legacies Pulse Study* – a reprise of a similar Allianz Life study conducted in 2005 – baby boomers and their parents remain focused on the emotional elements of legacy transfer rather than purely financial aspects of inheritance.
Stories, Not Finances
Eighty-six percent of boomers (age 47-66) and 74 percent of elders (age 72+) agree that family stories are the most important aspect of their legacy, ahead of personal possessions (64 percent for boomers, 58 percent for elders) and the expectation of inheritance for financial well-being (9 percent for boomers, 14 percent for elders). Despite the tumultuous years in-between, this echoed the findings in 2005, with 77 percent of both boomers and elders citing the importance of family values and life lessons as the most important part of legacy.
Furthermore, boomers and elders still agree that inheritance is not “owed.” Although it’s logical to assume that more boomers may be counting on an inheritance from their parents to help make up for losses suffered in market downturns, or in real estate, for example, only 4 percent said they felt they were owed an inheritance – the same percentage as in 2005. In addition, the number of elders who feel they owe their children an inheritance actually went down, from 22 percent in 2005 to 14 percent today. This change could stem from elders being more concerned about potentially using more of their savings for living expenses.
“Our American Legacies Study found that people feel the same way they do about legacy transfer as they did prior to the market volatility we’ve experienced in recent years,” said Katie Libbe, vice president of Consumer Insights for Allianz Life. “Although they’re not concerned about legacy transfer with their parents, it’s important that boomers invest more into their own legacy planning to ensure a better future for their heirs.”
Boomers Are Behind in Legacy Planning
Although they agree on what part of legacy transfer is most valuable, boomers and their parents are not as in-sync on actually doing the work of legacy planning. The 2012 American Legacies Pulse Study revealed that elders are generally prepared when it comes to legacy planning and have also initiated conversations with their children on the topic. Three-quarters of elders have obtained professional assistance, such as a lawyer, financial professional, accountant or estate planner in planning their inheritance and 79 percent have had some type of in-depth discussion with their children about legacy planning.
Boomers are lagging behind in this area with less than half obtaining professional legacy planning assistance and nearly 50 percent never initiating a conversation with their own children about inheritance issues. Furthermore, one-in-four boomers have not planned their inheritance compared to one-in-twenty elders.
Increased Value of an Honest, Financially Savvy Financial Professional
A significant change in opinion from 2005 that both boomers and their parents share are the characteristics they look for in a financial professional. Seven years ago, both boomers and elders cited “honest & trustworthy” as their most desired characteristic (74 and 67 percent), followed closely by “explains things in an easy to understand way” (66 and 56 percent) and “good listener” (58 and 46 percent). In 2012, “honest & trustworthy” is still the top characteristic, but has taken on increased importance with 89 percent of boomers and 91 percent of elders deeming it as a key requirement. Said Libbe, “It would appear that turmoil in markets makes ‘trust’ more highly valued.”
The other major shift can be seen in the financial acumen required of financial professionals. In 2005, 51 percent of boomers and 43 percent of elders cited the importance of their financial professional’s ability to “help minimize taxes” and less than half of both groups (42 percent of boomers and 35 percent of elders) required that their financial professional be able to “help maximize the long-term value” of the inheritance. Today, those skills are more highly valued with 75 percent of boomers and 70 percent of elders requiring skill to “help minimize taxes” and more than half of both groups (60 percent of boomers and 55 percent of elders) desiring that their financial professional can “help maximize the long-term value” of the inheritance.
Follow the Successful CEO
This idea is underscored by respondents’ choice for which famous person they would like their financial professional to be most like. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet was the top selection for both boomers (22 percent) and elders (24 percent), far above celebrity options including Ben Stein (9 percent for boomers, 6 percent for elders), Katie Couric (2 percent for boomers, 1 percent for elders) and Ellen DeGeneres (2 percent for boomers, 0.4 percent for elders).
*The 2012 American Legacies Pulse Study was commissioned by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America and conducted online by SNG Research Corporation, January 12-19, 2012. 2,007 total surveys were conducted—1,000 with respondents age 44-67 (boomers) and 1,007 with respondents age 72+ (elders). The original 2005 American Legacies study was conducted by Harris Interactive both by phone and online with 2,004 respondents.
About Allianz Life
Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, one of FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2012, has been keeping its promises since 1896. Today, it carries on that tradition, helping Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry with 150,000 employees worldwide. More than 78 million private and corporate customers rely on Allianz knowledge, global reach, and capital strength to help them make the most of financial opportunities.
Life insurance and annuities are issued by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, and in New York, by Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, New York City.
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