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Boomers will delay retirement, survey finds

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February 17, 2011

Half of the Baby Boomer clients who postponed retirement after the economic downturn expect to work at least four years longer than they originally planned, according to CPA financial planners surveyed by the American Institute of CPAs. This is a milestone year for the generation, with the first of those born between 1946 and 1965 turning the retirement age of 65.

The balance has changed, however, when it comes to confidence in the stock market. Fifty-two percent of CPA respondents said their clients are at least somewhat confident in the stock market now, as compared to 54 percent a year ago that said they were not very confident. These clients typically have between $500,000 and $5 million in assets, according to the AICPA.

“Boomers have been scarred by the economic turmoil of the past few years and face complex challenges going forward,” said Clark M. Blackman II, chair of the AICPA’s personal financial planning executive committee, in a statement. “While more optimistic about the markets, many Boomers remain uncertain about the U.S. economy and their own situations as they contend with job loss—their own and their children’s—lower home values and rising education costs.”

According to government statistics, Baby Boomers number 77 million and comprise 37 percent of the nation’s population over the age of 16.

Of the 372 CPA financial planners that responded, 79 percent said they had at least one Boomer client who delayed retirement because of the economy. Asked how many extra years those clients expect to work, 32.3 percent of respondents said one to three years; 39.3 percent said four to six years; 9.8 percent said seven to 10 years; and 3.7 percent said more than 10 years.

The economic climate is also impacting other Baby Boomer financial decisions, with half of the surveyed CPA financial planners saying that cost is driving more of their clients’ children to choose state universities or community colleges over private schools compared with five years ago.

Other survey findings include:

•    48 percent of CPA financial planners said their typical client is somewhat or very pessimistic about the U.S. economy.
•    51 percent of CPA financial planners said at least one client was turned down for a mortgage or refinance in the past year. The most common reasons were lower home values and higher underwriting standards.
•    44 percent of CPA financial planners said their average client emerged from the recession with increased net worth and 17 percent saw their net worth stay the same.

“These survey results show optimism tinged with some caution,” said Lyle K. Benson, president of L.K. Benson & Co. in Baltimore, Md. and member of the AICPA’s personal financial planning executive committee, in a statement. “Having weathered the economic storm, clients are turning to CPA financial planners to help make sense of the new reality and get back on track toward their financial and personal goals.”

The survey, made available to members of the AICPA’s personal financial planning practice session between Jan. 12 and Feb. 1, has a confidence rate of 95 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent, according to the AICPA.

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