They are sometimes called the "sandwich" generation, and bank brokerages are beginning to market to them.
The number of people with children as well as elderly parents relying on them for financial support is growing.
Typically in their 40s and 50s, these folks are beginning to get solicitations from banks for long-term-care insurance, variable annuities, estate planning services, and financial plans.
"We are constantly seeing people who have multiple issues-particularly aging parents-who never really expected these issues to hit them," said Robert Condon, president of the brokerage at Fidelity Federal Bank, Los Angeles.
Banks, brokerages, financial planners, and insurance companies are fighting over this market. Not only are such investors saddled with debts from all sides, but they awaiting their inheritances.
Economists expect the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history to occur over the next few years, reaching trillions of dollars.
Furthermore, over the next 25 years 47 million people will enter this sandwich market segment, according to a survey conducted by the Roper Institute for the American Association of Retired Persons.
Indeed, a January survey of 1,000 investors 30 to 59 years of age found that 40% provided some financial support to parents or expected to, up from 22% in 1994. Yankelovich Partners Inc. conducted the survey for Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Co.
At Fidelity Federal, Mr. Condon's investment representatives have gone out on the seminar circuit, tossing out statistics to remind people how little they've saved for their parents' nursing-home care or even their own retirement.
"How many people 10 to 15 years ago thought about purchasing nursing- home care for their parents?" Mr. Condon asked. "And yet, that's going to be the biggest bill they pay."
Mr. Condon's reps are devising comprehensive financial plans that include figuring potential nursing-care costs for parents. He also assigns his sales representatives to call customers every six months to make sure they are following the plan and have actually bought the long-term-care policies.
Far more people are feeling the financial squeeze from both sides, bank brokerage presidents say. As people live longer and nursing-home expenses increase, middle-aged folks find themselves supporting parents. And with college tuition costs constantly on the rise, they are feeling even more strapped.
At Coastal Federal Bank, Myrtle Beach, S.C., brokerage president J. Pinkney Kellet tries to reach people through their aging parents.
Most of the bank's customers are senior citizens, Mr. Kellet said. And when they come in for estate planning advice, he makes sure to get their kids on the telephone for a conference call.
"Now that we've worked so hard to capture these assets, we're making sure we're talking to the 40-year-old sons and daughters who will inherit that money," Mr. Kellet said.
Though bank brokerage presidents insist there isn't one product for these customers, they are beginning to give much more attention to long- term-care insurance than they ever did before.
"I think these policies are going to catch on more and more," said Kenne Bristol, president of Alliance Bancorp, Hinsdale, Ill.
"People are living longer, and their children are picking up more responsibility than they expected."
The company is pitching long-term-care insurance in local advertisements and statement stuffers.
Mr. Bristol said the bank's nine investment representatives are featured in several local newspaper advertisements that ask readers if they have thought about how they will meet so many financial obligations.