Equities are scarier than death

Investors are more afraid of the stock market than they are of public speaking, unemployment or death, according to a new survey. But its other findings may give advisors something to fear.

Equities are scarier than death

Americans are more afraid of investing in the stock market than they are of losing their jobs, public speaking or even dying. A new survey by Harris Interactive found that the only provided option more frightening than equity investment is sky diving.

According to the “Fear of Financial Planning” survey, of the 783 potential investors surveyed, 62% are scared of investing in the stock market, while 58% fear death, 57% fear public speaking and 37% fear losing their jobs

More frightening for advisors, perhaps, was the finding that an increasing number of investors – especially younger investors – would rather use a website for their financial planning needs than meet with an investment professional.

“Americans are increasingly moving toward managing their own assets and investments. For their practices to be sustainable, advisors need to focus more resources on demonstrating their value to both existing and prospective clients,” said Michael Spangler, president of Nationwide Financial’s mutual fund business, which commissioned the survey.

Rather than working with an advisor, generation X and millennials are more likely to use websites as their primary financial planning resource. Advisors were used by 43% of gen-X investors and 51% of millennials. More than one in two millennials (58%) and nearly half of generation X (48%) turn to websites before financial advisors for help with financial planning.

While younger investors are turning to self-management, older and wealthier clients value professional advice: 78% of retirees and 61% of high-net-worth investors said their financial advisor was their top resource for financial planning.

The survey also found 83% of respondents are afraid of another financial crisis, while 72% are concerned their personal health care costs will become unmanageable and 71% worry they will not be able to pay for their children’s education.

Millennials and gen Xers share these fears. Nearly four in five, 77% and 78% respectively, are afraid that they will not be able to have the lifestyle they want in retirement, and 66% of millennials and 65% of gen-Xers ) fear they may never be able to retire.

“Even with the recent uptick in the markets, we still hear from our financial advisor clients that investors are very skittish. We wanted to dig deeper to understand their fears related to their financial security, and to help advisors address them,” said Spangler.

Survey respondents were all over the age of 18 and had at least $100,000 in investable assets.