Monday, November 12, 2007

Helping Those Boomers Who Can't Help Themselves

Article today in The New York Times about a new educational advertising campaign targeting Baby Boomers from FINRA, the non-profit Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The campaign, from the description, is apparently for all those Boomers (about a third) who haven't saved dime one for "retirement."

One small beef with the press release about the new campaign -- it starts with two false presumptions in one paragraph:

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day over the next quarter century, FINRA believes it is crucial to reach out to baby boomers now, as they approach retirement. Recent FINRA Investor Education Foundation-sponsored research showed that seniors are targeted more frequently by investment fraudsters than younger investors.
Here's what is wrong. There's no way 10,000 boomers will be retiring every day over the next 25 years. First, that math doesn't even work -- there aren't 91 million Boomers, only 78 million. And second, Boomers aren't going to "retire" the day they reach age 62 or 65. If they had said "With 10,000 boomers reaching retirement age every day for the next 20 years," we might have let it go without a comment.

Maybe it's a nit, but we're big believers in knowing your audience.

The other presumption is that Boomers will be like previous generations of older citizens and get swindled by "fraudsters." That's annoying because it smacks of agesim -- that is, apparently when you get old you also get stupid. Boomers have been stupid about money and saving for a long, long time.

A more accurate assessment of Boomers and their money is that the greatest threat to a Boomer's retirement nest egg isn't a swindler, but a Boomer himself or herself. The number of Boomers who have drained their 401(k) accounts to buy a boat, RV or vacation home is staggering.

Hey, we're not saying educating Boomers about money is a bad thing. We want all Boomers to know what they are doing with their money. We just wish FINRA or their ad agency had asked for a little help in getting their own messaging on target with today's Boomer Consumer. We're available.

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Valuable Insights into the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Today's Baby Boomers

This blog is by the authors of Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America's Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group, on sale now.

Here is where you'll find information referenced in the book, as well as updates, news and perspectives from Matt Thornhill and John Martin, founders of the Boomer Project.