NU Online News Service, Aug. 18, 2003, 1:33 p.m. EDT – The recent stock market slump seems to have made U.S. investors more cautious, according to survey results released by John Hancock Financial Services Inc., Boston.

When researchers from Plan-it Marketing Intelligence Inc., Boston, interviewed 800 family decision-makers for Hancock earlier this year, they found that 76% of the participants said they were more conservative than they had been a couple of years ago, and that 63% said they were now more focused on asset protection than on growth.

Sixty-six percent of the participants said they were more likely to invest in financial products with guaranteed rates of return than in products with variable returns linked to the performance of the stock market.

When the researchers asked about specific products, 71% of the participants said they were more likely to buy fixed-rate annuities; 60%, whole life insurance; 59%, term life insurance; and 53%, long term care insurance.

Sixty percent of participants said it is more important than ever to choose companies with conservative investment strategies.

Although baby boomers are closer to retirement than younger consumers, boomers were only slightly more likely than younger survey participants to express a preference for products that offer guaranteed returns.

Sixty-seven percent of the boomers now want guaranteed returns, compared with 63% of the younger survey participants.