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Investors Worried About Market Downturn: Survey

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Three out of four U.S. investors 40 and older are concerned about a stock market correction, yet more than a third say they are uncertain what they would do with their savings if they pulled it from the stock market, according to survey results announced Tuesday by Global Atlantic Financial Group.

Virtually all respondents said the market at its current levels had risks, and 37% said the risk was significant or mostly risky.

Ebiquity, a global market analytics firm, conducted the poll in October and November among 1,005 U.S. investors with investments in the stock market through stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, 401(k)s or IRAs.

According to Global Atlantic, the typical U.S. investor 40 and over has $210,051, on average, currently invested in the stock market, while retired investors have an average of $236,148 invested in the market.

Even with stock market risk concerns high, 69% of investors said their investment vehicles were subject to stock market volatility. Fifty-nine percent of employed investors said a major stock market drop would inhibit their ability to retire when they wanted, while 25% of those already in retirement said it would disrupt their retirement.

Pollsters asked investors how the 2008 financial crisis and stock market decline had affected the value of their savings and investment portfolio. Nine percent reported a loss of more than 50% in value, 23% said a loss between 25% and 50% in value and 34% said a reduction of 10% to 25% in value.

Sixteen percent of respondents could not recall the change in value.

“Investors felt the pain from the 2008 financial crisis, but our study indicates many are not prepared for another significant downturn and the impact it could have on their retirement,” Paula Nelson, president — retirement at Global Atlantic Financial Group, said in a statement.

“It’s clear that investors need a better strategy to protect themselves from future market corrections and volatility, especially as they enter their peak earning years and prepare for and enter retirement.”

The survey results gave some indication why investors continue to stay with equity investments. Fifty-two percent believe that the stock market can sustain continued growth for the next five years without a downturn of 10% or more. Forty-eight percent do not believe this can happen.

According to the poll, the most popular investing strategy were steady income-focused investments, cited by 34% of respondents; protecting/capital preservation investments, cited by 26%; and growth, chosen by 24%. Women placed a higher value on both income and capital preservation/protecting money than men: 43% vs. 34% and 30% vs. 23%.

Thirty-six percent of retired respondents valued capital preservation/protection, compared with 19% of those who were employed.

Forty-six percent of investors surveyed said they found equity investments as appealing as interest-bearing investments, while 32% said they preferred equity and 22% preferred interest-bearing products. Fifty-two percent of women in the poll preferred a combination of equity and interest-bearing products in their portfolio, compared with 38% of their male counterparts.

“While we found a clear preference for more income-producing and capital protection type investments, the study found investors were overweighted in the stock market and not prepared for a sizable or prolonged downturn,” Nelson said.

“More importantly, two out of three investors still in the workforce said a significant downturn would disrupt their retirement plans and timing.”

When asked what they would do with their money if they took it out of the stock market, 35% of respondents said they were not sure what they would do with it.

Forty-four percent said they would buy interest-bearing accounts, while 19% said they would purchase an annuity. Thirteen percent said they would opt for cash, and 9% for gold.

Nelson said the survey results reinforced Global Atlantic’s view that investors become more conservative as they approach and enter their retirement years.

“People closer to retirement tend to place greater value on guaranteed income and allocation strategies that help them lower their exposure to market risk,” she said. “Adding annuities to the mix is often an effective way to help achieve these objectives, but not everyone understands the role an annuity can play in their portfolio.

“With the help of a financial advisor, investors can learn about their options and find a mix of investments to meet their retirement income needs.”


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