April 4, 2012

Investors More Concerned About Inflation Than Advisors, MFS Survey Finds

Even with concerns, investors still sitting on cash

Investors are more concerned about inflation over the next 12 months than their financial advisors think, according to the results from the latest MFS Investing Sentiment Survey.

Fully 60% of investors surveyed expressed inflation concerns, while only 41% of financial advisors think that rising inflation is a concern for investors, a significant disconnect between the two groups.

What’s more, only 34% of advisors were personally concerned about inflation over the next 12 months.

"Red flags should be going up for financial advisors as gas prices spike and interest rates remain at multi-decade lows," William Finnegan, senior managing director and head of U.S. retail marketing for MFS, said in a statement. "The conversation needs to shift now, from talking about missing market rallies to what's actually happening to their clients' current and future purchasing power: it is eroding. Investors are unaware of the 'cost-of-comfort' that comes with the perceived safety of cash—their cash is steadily losing value due to inflation."

In addition, a majority of investors continue to hold negative views on major asset classes. Sentiment regarding U.S. stocks, international stocks, real estate and cash all dipped at least slightly from MFS' February 2011 survey; only government bonds are viewed more positively now versus a year ago.

Not all news is bad, however.

Investors' sentiment across 13 key categories covering economics, health care, politics and interest rates has generally improved since last October. However, their concerns are still heightened and a majority of concerns remain higher now than a year ago, according to the survey.

"The improving sentiment reflects an improving economy, but make no mistake, we are not back to any semblance of normal," Finnegan added. "Investors are in a holding pattern, with more than one-quarter of assets in cash, negative views on all asset classes and persistent concerns over inflation, exacerbated by differing perceptions with their financial advisors."

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