BOSTON – John Hancock Financial today announced the results of its quarterly measure of investors’ views on a range of investment choices, life goals, and economic outlook, as well as their confidence in these areas. For the fourth quarter of 2011, the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index score is +15, an improvement from the annual low of +10 measured in the year’s third quarter.
The fourth quarter survey was conducted in late November through early December of 2011. The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index is a quarterly poll of approximately 1,000 investors, and reflects the percentage of those who say they believe it is a “good” or “very good” time to invest, minus those who feel the opposite.
The fourth quarter of 2011 reveals elements of optimism for 2012. More positive views toward real estate and stock investments seem to have driven the uptick, and many of those surveyed feel better about investing in retirement vehicles, like 401(k)s and IRAs. Three out of four investors said they believe that now is a good or very good time to be investing in retirement products such as 401(k) plans and IRAs (73 percent each). Both of these figures represent meaningful increases over last quarter’s lows (66 percent for 401(k)s and 67 percent for IRAs in Q3).
“There is also some evidence that investors are dealing with market uncertainty by further diversifying their investments,” observed Bill Cheney, Chief Economist for John Hancock. “Half of the investors surveyed say it is a good time to invest in balanced mutual funds, and about three-quarters say they plan to invest in mutual funds in 2012.”
More than half of all investors surveyed said they expect to be in a better position financially two years from now compared with today. A little more than a third of investors think they are in a better financial position today compared with two years ago, with 41 percent saying they are in about the same position, and 25 percent saying they are worse off.
The fourth quarter 2011 survey also asked investors about their plans for holiday spending and their top New Year’s resolutions. Three-quarters of American investors (72 percent) believed that consumer spending this holiday season would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and stock market. Most (61 percent) planned to spend the same amount of money on the holidays as they did in 2010, though one out of four (25 percent) said they planned to spend less. About a third (31 percent) said they planned to cut back on gifts to friends and colleagues, where four out of five (83 percent) planned to spend the same amount or more on family.
Most of those surveyed (65 percent) believe that fewer than 10 percent of Americans actually make and keep New Year’s resolutions. However, those who are employed say that saving for retirement is their top financial priority for 2012. More than a quarter (27 percent) say that trimming household budgets and reducing their debt levels are among their resolutions.
Financial New Year’s resolutions appear directly related to investors’ primary concerns for the new year ahead, which include declining investment values (37 percent) and not being able to accumulate enough savings for retirement (18 percent.)
Among the findings for Q4 2011:
About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey
John Hancock’s Investor Sentiment Survey is a quarterly poll of investors. The survey measures investors’ feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment. The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and likelihood of purchasing financial products and services.
This online survey was conducted by independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates. A total of 1,001 investors were surveyed between November 28 and December 6, 2011. Respondents were selected from among members of Research Now’s online research panel. To qualify, respondents were required to participate at least to some extent in their household’s financial decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000.
For the inaugural, first quarter wave of this poll, a total of 1,001 investors were surveyed between February 18 and March 1, 2011. Between May 9 and May 15, 2011, the second quarter poll was conducted with 1,146 respondents. The third quarter wave was conducted with 1,005 consumers between August 12 and August 22, 2011. In each wave, respondents were required to meet the same qualifying criteria.
The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of Americans matching the survey’s qualification requirements. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus 3.16 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Due to rounding and missing categories, numbers presented may not always total to 100 percent.
About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation
John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canada-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 21 countries and territories worldwide. In 2012, John Hancock celebrates 150 years of serving clients across the United States, while Manulife celebrates its 125th anniversary.
Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and in most of Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, Manulife Financial Corporation offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$492 billion (US$473 billion) as at September 30, 2011. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.
The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, fixed and variable annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com.
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