Americans still don’t trust the marketsNews added by Benefits Pro on August 20, 2014

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By Marlene Y. Satter

More than half of Americans haven’t forgotten the tough lessons of the Great Recession and the stock market implosion, meaning they’ve been sitting on the sidelines as the market returned to boom days. And that’s taking a toll on those saving for retirement.

Fifty-one percent of Americans, according to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index survey, still don’t trust the market or haven’t been able to bring themselves to dip their toes back in. And among those waiting it out, 56 percent say they don’t have enough money to invest. Another 12 percent say they don’t trust stock and bond markets, while 11 percent say they don’t know enough to get started.

Those who are investing — 45 percent — say that they’re paying close attention to how their investments are doing, and are concentrating on the future. Most of them — 88 percent — are in the market for what it can do for their long-term savings, while 78 percent make sure that they go over all their investments at least once a quarter.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. Whether they’re in the market or not, half of survey respondents say that they’re outpaced by the speed of the market and can’t keep up with its volatility.

“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,” said Troy Frerichs, director of wealth management at COUNTRY Financial. “Investing may seem daunting at first, but the key takeaway is any level of involvement is a good starting point.”

Getting back to that matter of (dis)trust: it’s highest among those over 50, with one in five baby boomers (21 percent) saying that’s the biggest reason for them to stay out of stock and bond markets.

Still, among those who invest, 42 percent are relying on a financial planner, with 61 percent of those over 65 saying they get their investment advice from a planner.

Those under age 30, however, would rather research investments on the Internet (27 percent) than ask a planner (22 percent).

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