Many Americans Remain Wary About Stocks

Many Americans hold serious reservations about investing in the stock and bond markets, according to a recent COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey on investor confidence.

About 45% of people surveyed by COUNTRY say they are currently investing in stocks and bonds, and many individuals do so through a workplace retirement plan. A strong majority of those who do invest (88%) say the primary agenda is focusing on expenses in the future and developing adequate long-term savings to fund retirement. About eight in 10 (78%) current investors review their portfolios at least quarterly.

While the stock market has rebounded significantly following the financial crisis, more than half of Americans (51%) still say they do not invest in the stock and bond markets in any way.

Many who are not investing presently say they are unable to get started, usually based on a lack of assets or experience. Fifty-six percent of survey respondents who are not investing today say they do not invest because they lack the necessary funds, while others cite distrust of the stock and bond markets (12%) and a lack of knowledge about how to choose investment products (11%) as the most prominent barriers.

“Investing is a key component of any financial plan, and while half of people say they're not invested, they might still be unknowingly benefiting from market upswings through an automatic 401(k) enrollment at work, for example,” says Troy Frerichs, director of wealth management at COUNTRY. “Investing may seem daunting at first, but the key takeaway is any level of involvement is a good starting point.”

The lack of trust in the stock market is a more prevalent concern for Baby Boomers, the survey finds, with one in five (21%) citing distrust in the stock and bond markets as their biggest reason for not investing.

Many individuals that invest believe a financial adviser is their most trusted decision maker (42%). Respondents older than 65 are significantly more likely to trust a financial planner, with 61% of people in the age group citing an adviser as their primary resource for investment information.

However, the younger generations are taking a vastly different approach to find information about investing.  Twenty-seven percent of people younger than age 30 are more likely to consult internet research than a financial planner when it comes to investment decisions, the research shows. An overwhelming majority (87%) of young people also say they have rarely or never consulted friends or family about their investment decisions.