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Americans Are So Over the Financial Crisis ... Or Are They?

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A decade after the Great Recession, Americans say that the event had no impact on their lives — yet their spending and investing behaviors tell a different story, according to new data from Hartford Funds.

According to a survey of 1,006 American adults, 40% of respondents said that the financial crisis had no impact on their lives. However, the survey also found that large numbers reported that they avoid the market (42%) and have altered their spending and savings habits (46%).

Others (26%) shifted their retirement timeline and plan to work longer then they’d hoped, and 25% had to change jobs or take on additional jobs.

“Americans are forgetting what it felt like during those challenging times of 2008-2011,” said John Diehl, senior vice president of strategic markets at Hartford Funds, in a statement. “These results signify that advisors should continue to remind clients that markets can get turbulent, so they should steer clear of emotional investments and knee-jerk reactions by maintaining a fundamentally diversified portfolio to help them achieve their long-term financial goals.”

Survey respondents were also asked about preparation for the next recession or market downturn. Almost half (43%) of respondents said they are taking a wait-and-see approach to the markets.

Bill McManus, director of strategic markets at Hartford Funds, explained why this approach may be an opportunity for advisors.

“When most investors say they’re taking a wait-and-see approach, that usually means that things have been so good for so long that there is no need to review where their investments stand, other than to open statements and be happy that values are up,” McManus said in a statement. “We see an opportunity to educate investors who may be at a standstill about the benefits of perspective and direction from a financial advisor.”

Meanwhile, nearly a fifth of Americans surveyed say they are confident in their investments and aren’t touching their portfolios to prepare for the next recession or market downturn, while 21% said they are increasing their investments to take advantage of the upside.

The survey also addresses millennials, whose formative job-seeking years were rocked by the crisis, and finds they have the least amount of trust in the market today. According to the survey, almost half (48%) avoid the market altogether.

The survey finds that this generation continues to prepare for the worst as nearly a quarter (24%) have already shifted their retirement timeline and plan to work longer than originally anticipated. Also, 38% are also trying to compensate for this delay by increasing their retirement savings in traditional retirement vehicles.

“Outside of millennials, Americans are overconfident,” Diehl said in a statement. “Index investing has been wonderful because all of the indexes have been up since March 2009, but when the market turns, investors need to be intentional about what they own and why.”

For the study, 1,006 adults (18 years old and older) living in the continental United States were surveyed via landline and mobile phone.

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