Annuity industry professionals have mixed views about how the current financial crisis will affect consumer confidence over the next 12 months.

NAVA, Reston, Va., polled the industry pros at its annual conference in Philadelphia this week.

Of the 300 conference attendees taking part in the poll, 35% said consumer confidence will rise, and 41% predicted confidence will fall.

Almost all of the participants said they believe that most retirement-minded Americans will take some action to deal with the current financial crisis.

Investors preparing to retire will move money into “safer” investments, become more risk-averse, avoid equity-based financial products, and even “stash their savings under their mattresses,” according to survey participants.

Other findings:

- 65% of participants believe investor confidence is flat or falling

- 68% believe that variable annuity living benefits, which offer specific guarantees against downside market risk, will become more popular.

- 77% said they are sticking with their own long-term retirement planning arrangements rather than making significant near-term adjustments.