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Majority of Individual Investors Are Bullish on the Next Six Months Yet Still Playing It Safe
added: 2010-04-16

A new nationwide survey issued by Citi, and conducted by Hart Research Associates, found that individual investors both large and small are notably bullish on the investment climate in the next six months. In fact, looking ahead, 62 percent of large and small investors, those with investable assets over $500,000 and $100,000 respectively, said they are optimistic the investment climate will get better in the next six months, compared to 35 percent who said it will get worse.

Interestingly, despite this optimism, investors are continuing to take a cautious approach overall.

- By a substantial margin – 57 percent to 42 percent – investors with investable assets over $100,000 described their current strategy as being more focused on maintaining wealth rather than trying to build it.

- Among investors, 36 percent indicate they are moving assets and savings to less risky areas.

- In fact, only 8 percent of investors indicated a preference for a high return strategy with high risk (rating their investment strategy as an “8” or higher on a scale of 1-10), while 41 percent rated their strategy as a “4” or lower, indicating their preference for a lower risk and reward.

The survey also found that only a slim majority of investors believe that the investment climate is better today than it was a year ago (50 percent better to 41 percent worse for all investors; 52 percent better to 37 percent worse for large investors).

“Financial markets may be trading far above their levels of one year ago, yet the dramatic impact of the economic downturn on the psyche of the American investor cannot be underestimated,” said Deborah Doyle McWhinney, President, Citi Personal Banking and Wealth Management. “With nearly one-third of investors reporting the stress of investing being higher than in years past, it’s understandable that Main Street investors are playing it safe because they are uncertain about their own circumstances.”

Real Estate Sector Tops List as a Good Opportunity

When all investors were asked to rate whether they thought it was a good time to invest in specific types of investments, no single type reached a 50 percent threshold deeming it an excellent or good investment at this time. Notably, however, the embattled real estate sector – defined as real estate, investment properties or REITs – topped the list for both all investors and large investors, with 47 percent and 50 percent saying it is an excellent or good time to invest in these opportunities, respectively.

This was followed by mutual fund accounts (40 percent investors, 41 percent large investors), individual stocks (37 percent investors, 43 percent large investors), municipal bonds (30 percent investors, 29 percent large investors), savings, CDs, and money market accounts (27 percent investors, 22 percent large investors), and corporate bonds (20 percent investors, 24 percent large investors).

"Real estate may have been badly battered in recent years," said Jonathan Clements, Director of Financial Education, Citi Personal Wealth Management. "Still, it has an enduring appeal for Americans, who find it far easier to grasp the value of a house than the value of a stock or a stock fund."

Retirement Looking Busier and Further Down the Road

The changing face of retirement has evolved even further due to the economic downturn and investment losses. More than a quarter of investors said their financial circumstances are worse off now than they were a year ago. Large investors were even more bearish on their current financial situation, with 33 percent saying they are financially worse off now, compared to 28 percent of investors overall.

Financial Security

- Only 44 percent of investors report being confident in their ability to retire in financial security as they had planned, while 36 percent said they might need to adjust their plans and 16 percent said they are not confident.

Postponing Retirement

- In a related finding, 30 percent of non-retired investors say they are considering postponing retirement due to declines in their investment portfolio.

Staying Busy

- Nearly 7 in 10 non-retired investors (69 percent) plan to remain active in retirement, either by volunteering (26 percent) or by working part-time (43 percent) after officially retiring. This is little different when looking at large investors (42 percent work part-time and 24 percent volunteer).

“If 4 in 10 non-retired Americans say they plan to work part-time in retirement, and that turns out to be true, it would mark a new vision for what retirement is all about,” noted Clements.

Source: Business Wire

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