AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, has announced results of an October 2008 study that revealed the consumer attitudes and behaviors of Americans have shifted rather dramatically in the past six months. Among the most notable results, almost eight in 10 of those polled (78%) ranked income guarantees as a top financial priority, up 16 percentage points from a similar AXA Equitable poll conducted in April.
“It’s no surprise that attitudes and behaviors have changed, especially given the period of economic instability we’re experiencing,” said Barbara Goodstein, executive vice president and chief innovation officer for AXA Equitable. “What is striking, however, is the heightened priority being placed so quickly on securing a stream of lifetime income.”
The AXA Equitable study also found that those placing a priority on protection from outliving retirement savings increased dramatically, from 59% six months ago to 71% in October. Securing protection against market conditions also increased considerably with 68% ranking it as a priority, compared to a little more than half (53%) back in April.
Other notable findings from the October study included:
Consumers Are Almost Divided Between Waiting It Out and Taking Action
The study found that slightly more than half of those polled (54%) said that they have not made financial changes, nor do they intend to do so. For the 25%of those who have thought about doing something, the actions most considered included meeting with an advisor (62%), reallocating investments (47%) or making withdrawals (24%).
Of the 21% that have actually taken action amid the volatility, 67% said that they reallocated investments, 56% bought products like annuities, life insurance and stocks, and 24% made withdrawals from 401(k) or 403(b) accounts or liquidated personal investments.
Information Found on the Web, Trust Found in Financial Professionals
The AXA Equitable study also found that of all the sources to learn about finances, almost half of those polled (48%) sought information from news and financial Web sites. Other preferred sources included newspapers (45%), financial professionals (35%) and magazines (15%).
Consumer perception shifted when polled on trust, as 61% ranked financial professionals the most trustworthy – 10 percentage points more than financial Web sites (51%) and 20 percentage points more than news Web sites (41%).