Wealthy baby boomers are not the extravagant types they're sometimes made out to be, a bank survey suggests.
The survey, commissioned by United States Trust Company of New York and released Wednesday, found that affluent Americans in their 30s and 40s are anything but freewheeling in their financial habits: They typically own one home, work 52 hours a week, worry about their ability to keep their present jobs, and save aggressively for retirement.
The findings are based on a poll of 150 people born between 1946 and 1964, with annual household income of at least $200,000, or net worth of at least $3 million. Their wealth places them in the top 1% nationwide.
Nearly seven in 10 respondents said they worry they will not be able to save enough for retirement, and more than half feared that they may lose their jobs or go out of business, according to the survey. It was conducted in May by Financial Market Research Inc., a New York-based market researcher.
In addition, 86% think their children will have a tougher time financially than their own generation, while 62% of the boomers are predicting they will have to make "important sacrifices" when providing the next generation with a good education.
"They're not into the conspicuous consumption of the '80s," said Jeffrey S. Maurer, president and chief operating officer of the parent U.S. Trust Corp. "They have the same worries that everyone else has."
Indeed, bankers around the country see similarities in their own clients.
"This typifies what our own experience has been," said Maribeth S. Rahe, vice chairwoman of the board at U.S. Trust Corp. and a former head of private banking at Harris Bankcorp. "Despite the view that this is a very flamboyant crowd of people, this is a segment of the population that has grown up and gone through decades of uncertainties and unrest."
Ms. Rahe said that some reasons for the down-to-earth work ethics of the affluent and their race to save could be a result of having grown up in the tumultuous 1960s, having been exposed to the 1987 stock market crash, and having seen life expectancy grown longer.
One of the reasons the affluent baby boomers sampled showed rather middle-class values may be due to the fact that many of them came to wealth later in life.
The survey shows that two-thirds of the respondents described their childhood background as "poor, lower-middle-class, or middle-class." Nearly half made their income from corporate employment. Only 11% got their wealth through inheritance.
But Jeffrey T. Grubb, executive trust officer at U.S. Bancorp in Portland, Ore., said most affluent baby boomers stand to inherit wealth in the future. Most haven't yet come into inheritances, because "many of their parents are still living."
At the same time, many of the baby boomers surveyed are enjoying blessed lifestyles. Even though six in 10 own only one home, the value of their homes averages $616,000.
The most aggressive trend illustrated by the survey, however, was the focus wealthy baby boomers have on saving for retirement. Those surveyed indicated that they typically put 23% of their after-tax income towards savings and retirement.