Wary Americans lose risk appetite
Call it another by-product of the recession: Americans have lost their risk mojo and are slow to return to financial markets after taking a beating in the 2008-09 recession, according to a risk tolerance January 2011 survey released by TD Ameritrade.
The findings also show Americans would rather forgo an up day in the market than risk losing money in a slight market decline.
“More than half of investors think that being invested in a 10-percent market decline is a worse scenario than missing a 10-percent market increase. That's a real change in attitude,” said Stuart Rubinstein, managing director of client engagement for TD Ameritrade.
Of those surveyed, 28 percent reported moving more money into bonds or certificates of deposit in order to avoid exposure to risk in the market while 23 percent moved money into managed investment products like mutual funds.
Baby boomers remain the most wary about returning to the market, while younger investors, who are using cash for emergency funds, savings and large purchases, are returning to the market in larger droves.
Generation Y seems to be rebounding a little bit faster: 34 percent of Gen Y investors surveyed report investing new money in the stock market compared to 14 percent for Gen X and 15 percent from baby boomers. Rubinstein says this could also mean Gen Y investors are “nimbler.”
“When we ask older generations the most important financial advice they can give to younger generations, 77 percent said live within your means, 67 percent said start saving for retirement earlier and 47 percent said learn all you can about proper money management,” he says.
Two-thirds of respondents reported that their philosophy for investing is a diversified portfolio with products like mutual funds or exchange-traded funds.
Other key findings of the survey:
*Men are taking a conservative approach. Of the 28 percent of respondents who reported moving money into bonds or CDs, 33 percent are men and 21 percent are women. But despite their cautious approach, 20 percent of men reported investing in the market post-recession compared to just 10 percent of women.
*The recession has made investors more mindful. Thirty-two percent of investors are checking their portfolios more frequently while 31 percent are being more selective with the stocks they buy.
*The recession impacted day-to-day life. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed blame the 2008-09 recession for forcing them to delay lifestyle decisions.
Still, the recession isn't all bad news, Rubinstein says. The aftermath is a great time for parents to teach their children about money management and spendthrift by following the ABCs of investing: automated bi-weekly contributions.
“I think what's important is to always be investing in the market,” he said. “The right time is always.”
Harris Interactive surveyed 1,088 Americans between the ages of 22 and 80 for this risk assessment survey on behalf of TD Ameritrade.