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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Investors Look for Ways to Protect Savings From Volatility

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Thirty-five percent of Americans in a new survey said they were comfortable with current market conditions, up from 26% who said this in 2015, Allianz Life reported Monday.

At the same time, 37% of respondents said recent volatility was causing them to worry about their retirement savings. Thirty-eight percent said if a severe market decline that caused them to lose a lot of money should occur, they would not have time before retirement to rebuild their nest egg.

The survey found that a desire for protection from these concerns has increased since the 2015 study. Asked about their retirement planning, 57% of respondents said they were willing to give up some potential gains for a product that would protect part of their retirement savings, up from 48% in 2015.

Researchers also asked what actions they could take in the five to 10 years before the start of retirement to help ensure a more secure retirement. Thirty-one percent said putting some of their money into a financial product that offered both a balance of potential growth (up to 10%) and some level of protection (no loss of money if the market dropped 10%).

The study said expectations of future volatility partly explained this need for protection. More than four in 10 survey respondents still feared a big market crash or a major recession on the horizon. As a result, interest in financial products that offer a balance of growth potential and protection is growing.

“Volatility matters, and while we see some increasing comfort with volatility, it is driving a simmering anxiety in many Americans,” Paul Kelash, vice president of consumer insights for Allianz Life, said in a statement.

“This anxiety about the negative effects volatility can have on their retirement savings is very real and people are still searching for the right solutions.”

Allianz Life conducted the online survey in April with a nationally representative sample of 803 adult respondents who are still working. An additional 234 respondents with investable assets of $200,000 or more completed the survey, bringing the total respondents with that level of assets to 515.

The survey found an even stronger preference from wealthier participants for a balanced financial product.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents with $200,000 or more in investable assets said it was important to have some of their savings in a financial product that protected it from market loss, compared with 69% of those with less than $200,000 in investable assets.

Not only that, 68% of the wealthier group said they were willing to give up some potential gains for a product that protected a portion of their retirement savings, compared with 55% of their less-well-off counterparts.

Allianz Life noted that whereas market volatility had stayed below its long-term average for most of 2017, as measured by the Cboe Volatility Index or VIX, this year it has been more dynamic.

In February, the VIX spiked 115% on one day as equities sold off significantly, and was at elevated levels throughout March because of increased geopolitical tensions. Since then, it has edged back toward normal levels, but is still elevated from last year’s low levels.

“As market volatility becomes a more constant part of our financial landscape, Americans are recognizing the value of options that provide both opportunity and a level of protection,” Kelash said.

“Because we can’t be certain when the next major downturn will occur, it’s important that people have the ability to grow their retirement savings while still safeguarding their financial future.”

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