Risk-averse and holding too much cashNews added by Benefits Pro on September 2, 2014

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By Nick Thornton

Many investors are stockpiling more cash than they need as they grow their retirement savings, according to new research from Cerulli.

U.S. investors are holding about $3.4 trillion in cash, or cash equivalents, in banks. Cerulli’s analysis says that averages out to about 10.8 percent of all household assets.

See also: Investors struggle with retirement know-how

“It is standard recommendation, although not always followed, for households to keep at least six months’ worth of expenses in a savings account for emergencies,” explained Scott Smith, director at Cerulli.

The data, however, suggests households are accruing cash far in excess of what is typically recommended.

Cerulli’s 2014 U.S. Investor Products and Platforms survey also examined the general risk appetite of investors.

Across all household wealth ranges, Cerulli found that the pursuit of a comfortable standard of living and the protection of existing wealth were the two most important goals.

Only 6 percent of households cited “aggressively growing wealth” as their primary objective, suggesting risk aversion across the range of income levels.

Cerulli segments their subjects into five groups: those with less than $100,000 in total household assets; those with more than $5 million in household assets; and three other levels of wealth in between.

None of the respondents with less than $100,000 in household assets said aggressively growing assets was their primary goal.

That could mean an opening for wealth advisors. Presumably, the lowest-income segment is populated by younger investors, who have the benefit of a longer time-horizon before they retire, and are able to assume more risk.

Yet Cerulli’s data shows they are reluctant to.

Meanwhile, older investors approaching retirement are shying away from annuities, due to their complexity and costs, according to the study.

“Though there has been downward movement in investment expenses industry-wide, insurance companies have little interest in competing on price in the annuity market,” wrote the authors.

Cerulli’s report suggests that those annuity providers willing to lower their costs and package guaranteed income products “in ways the average investor can understand” will have tremendous opportunities as boomers transition to retirement and need more guaranteed income solutions.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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