Baby boomers – those of us born between 1946 and 1964 – have been the focus of the retirement market for some time now. Today’s oldest boomer is 67 and its youngest is 49. Most are either retiring or seriously thinking about it. We control $1.2 trillion of Canada’s wealth! That’s a sizable 40 per cent1 and explains why we’ve been the latest focus of ‘all things retirement.’

But what about that quiet generation just behind us: Generation X? While they created some noise back in the early 1990s with iconic novels such as Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture; with the spotlight on the boomers and a shift in focus to Generation Y (the Millennials), Gen X has somewhat simmered in the background.

Ideologically, it makes sense. Gen X has been the “slow-and-steady-wins-the-race” generation, bucking “slacker” labels suggested in the 90s and securing more robust roles than the overeducated, overqualified “McJobs” warned of by Coupland. As it turns out, this generation was built for endurance. Many work stable jobs, saving their money buying homes. They’ve quietly observed their boomer parents prepare – or not – for life events such as retirement and have carefully taken note.

Time on their side

When it comes to investments, Gen X may control only approximately 12 per cent of all Canadian financial wealth assets2 right now, but they’ve got time on their side. Having been born between 1965 and 1980, the eldest of this cohort is 48 and the youngest is 33. Typically, it’s been a struggle to capture the attention of those in the “building years” with competing financial priorities, but Gen X is sitting up and paying attention. A recent LIMRA survey indicated that Generation X are more concerned about having enough money for retirement than other generations.3

Don’t underestimate Gen X

There are approximately 7.7 million Gen Xers currently making up 22 per cent of Canada’s population.4 Advisors can be at the helm of a tremendous opportunity with Gen X in Canada, because:

  • According to Investment Executive’s 2011 research, the average age of a financial advisor in Canada was 47.6 – a Gen Xer! Not only can the average advisor relate to this cohort, they’re likely to have many clients and contacts within this demographic.
  • 72 per cent of Gen Xers don’t currently work with a financial advisor.5
  • 75 per cent of Gen Xers are concerned about retirement investing before they get too close to their retirement.6
  • 55 per cent of Gen Xers are “not at all” or “not very” confident they are currently saving enough money to last throughout retirement.7 In fact, when asked if they’ll receive government pension benefits comparable to today’s retirees, 38 per cent of Gen Xers responded that they are not at all confident versus 29 per cent of boomers.
  • Generally speaking, Canadian Gen Xers are willing to take risks. They’re “digital natives” and grew up in a period of rapid social, economic and technological change. Gen Xers’ strongest values are associated with excitement and risk-taking. More than their elders, they’re willing to take chances to get what they want out of life.8

Sociologists have recognized Gen Xers as a fascinating cohort and the most diverse of the generations in terms of socio-cultural values.9 In their lifetimes, they’ve enjoyed or suffered the legacy of their boomer parents, a roller-coaster economy and an explosion of technological innovations, not the least of which are the hundred-channel cable universe, the personal computer and the Internet.10 And if you’re not convinced that money is a primary manifestation of this generation’s values, just look at how much they’re paying for things such as childcare: $2,000 a month, which has been unheard of up until now. Imagine the possibilities if they continue to invest that money after their children reach school-age – how this simple act could influence their financial future.

For Generation X, it’s never too early to start saving. Navigating the long-term investment landscape can be tricky but an advisor can help. Gen X is a captive audience, looking for valuable advice. And advisors can help take the unknown ‘x’ factor out of their financial well-being.

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1 Household balance sheet report, Investor Economics, 2013.

2 Ibid.

3 LIMRA Retirement Study – Consumer Phase 2012.

4 Statistics Canada, 2012.

5 2013 Sun Life Financial Canadian Unretirement™ Index.

6 LIMRA Retirement Study – Consumer Phase 2012.

7 Ibid.

8 Adams, Michael (2000). Better Happy Than Rich. Toronto: Penguin Books Ltd., p. 57.

9 Adams, Michael (2000). Better Happy Than Rich. Toronto: Penguin Books Ltd., p. 56.

10 Ibid.

Rocco Taglioni, Senior Vice-President, Head of Distribution, Individual Insurance and Wealth, is responsible for the overall leadership of Sun Life Financial’s distribution organizations across its Retail business in Canada. His role encompasses the leadership of the distribution company, as President Sun Life Financial Distributors Inc., as well as the Insurance and Wealth wholesaling sales organizations. Through the various leadership teams he oversees the development, direction, and execution of the Distribution strategies centered on wealth management, protection, retirement, and estate and financial planning.

Since joining Sun Life in 2004, Rocco has held various executive leadership roles, including Vice-President Business Development, Group Benefits; Head of Individual Wealth Management; Senior-Vice-President, Client Solutions; and most recently Senior Vice-President, Distribution and Marketing, Individual Insurance and Wealth. Throughout his tenure at Sun Life, Rocco has led various business strategies centered on building, transforming, and evolving organizations and teams to drive higher levels of performance and success.

Rocco has 36 years of experience in strategic leadership in the insurance and investment industries. He has served on and is a member of a number of boards. Rocco is currently President and Chair, Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc. and is a member of the Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. board. He is a member of various industry associations, including Advocis, GAMA Canada, the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management.

Rocco holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from York University.