Two-thirds of U.S. investors say they are prepared for a market downturn, such as the steep declines seen in recent weeks, according to a new investor survey released by Natixis Investment Managers.
Natixis’ survey of 750 individual investors in the U.S. found that 7 in 10 (71%) feel financially secure — for now.
According to David Giunta, CEO for the US and Canada at Natixis Investment Managers, a decade of rising markets, low interest rates and subdued volatility may have given investors unreasonable expectations and a false sense of security.
“Our research suggests many investors’ instincts could undermine their financial success as volatility returns to the markets, but their continued trust in their financial advisors should help them remain disciplined as markets become more turbulent,” Giunta said in a statement.
At least half of the investors surveyed said the long bull market bolstered their confidence that they are on track to reach long-term financial goals.
However, a closer look at investor sentiment and behavior reveals that investors may have an unrealistic understanding of risk and return, particularly among those whose only investing experience has been in the 10 years since the financial crisis.
Many investors today (78%) — which includes 86% of those who started investing after the financial crisis — are confident their portfolio is properly diversified. The survey also finds, however, that half admit they can’t identify most of the underlying investments in funds they own.
According to Natixis, “this leaves them potentially unaware of overweighted exposure to certain sectors and geographies that have grown disproportionately faster than others and may need rebalancing.”
The survey also finds that a significant portion of those surveyed are focused on short-term gains.
While 92% of investors consider it more important for their investments to deliver long-term results than short-term gains, 28% are focused on short-term performance and 26% tend to sell off investments during periods of market volatility, according to the survey.
In addition, 41% of investors who started investing after the financial crisis admit they tend to sell off assets when markets are volatile. According to Natixis, this may possibly be a reflection of their lack of experience managing volatility and the potential to use it to their advantage.
The survey also finds that investors may have unrealistic expectations for returns.
The annual returns (above inflation) investors say they need to achieve to reach their goals is 9.8% (compared to 8.9% last year) — and 43% higher than what financial advisors think is realistic (6.3%), according to Natixis.
Those who weren’t invested during the financial crisis are seeking annual returns of 11.3% to achieve their investment goals, the survey finds.
According to Dave Goodsell, executive director of the Natixis Center for Investor Insight, investors’ misconceptions about risk and volatility may be clouded by their unrealistic return targets.
“Investors may think they have a realistic view on the risks that come with investing, but in reality, they struggle with just how much risk they’re willing to take in pursuit of ambitious returns,” he said in a statement.
The 750 investors surveyed had a minimum of $100,000 in investable assets, and the group included 177 millennials (age 22 to 37); 202 Gen Xers (age 38 to 53); 296 baby boomers (age 54 to 72); and 75 respondents from the silent generation (age 72 and older).