INVESTORS SOON FORGET FINANCIAL CRISIS LESSONS

New York - A new survey reveals that many investors are once again taking for granted the old assumptions they had about their retirement savings.

Despite a tumultuous year, Americans appear unfazed and continue to have high hopes for retirement, according to research by Allianz Global Investors. But they may need a more realistic approach to retirement planning and investing.

The survey found that 78 percent of investors expect their standard of living in retirement to be the same or better than it is now. Eighty percent believe that they have planned for the future and are confident that they will have a secure retirement, and once again are depending on strong stock returns to fund it.

Nearly half of investors (48 percent) continue to rely on equities as the foundation of their retirement portfolios, and 74 percent said that it is likely that the stock market "will bounce back and restore" any portfolio losses. Overall, respondents believe that a 9 percent annual mean return is a reasonable expectation for retirement planning.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a cross-section of 1,013 pre-retired household financial decision-makers aged 30 or older with at least $250,000 in investable assets.

Investors admit that they don't know enough and are looking to advisors for help. Seventy-two percent want to know more about generating sustainable retirement income. More than half (55 percent) agree that it's more important than ever to work with a financial advisor.

Although investors say that they lost an average of 30 percent of their retirement savings at the bottom, they are nonetheless overwhelmingly positive about the outlook for their retirements. A large majority (71 percent) believe that the situation will turn around and they will have a great retirement. And nearly 80 percent say that they are at least somewhat confident that they'll have the money they need to retire. More than 60 percent believe that the market dislocation is a "temporary downturn and things will eventually go back to normal."

 

ETFS MAY UPSTAGE MUTUALS

New York - Exchange-traded funds could provide better long-term investments than the traditional mutual fund, according to a new study by Deloitte.

"For retail investors hurt by market volatility over the last year, an ETF may be more appealing longer-term than actively managed assets like mutual funds," said Cary Stier, Deloitte's U.S. asset management services leader. "When this perceived safety net is coupled with the tax efficiencies that are attractive to retail investors, it appears the stars may be aligning to end mutual funds' 69-year dominance. But in order to execute on this opportunity, ETFs will have to expand investor-friendly attributes beyond transparency and low costs."

According to Deloitte, several factors could enable ETFs to attract additional capital and become more profitable:

* Link to less exotic indices. Some of the best-performing ETFs are linked to less exotic indices, such as commodities and equities. The data shows exotic funds, on average, have not performed as well as regular ETFs.

* Focus on indices with long-term appeal. There are a number of ETFs that are launched to benefit from a current market situation. Inverse financial sector ETFs, for example, profit from the ailing financial sector. However, most investors recognize that these ETFs have a limited shelf life. Being linked to an index with a long-term appeal is usually more attractive to investors.

* Increase appeal to 401(k) investors. The barrier for 401(k) funds investing in ETFs are their higher costs compared to index mutual funds.

* Become more retail-investor-friendly. When small investors buy ETFs, they incur commission costs, as well as the bid-ask spread, which often makes the difference between their putting money in index mutual funds or ETFs.

* Keep it institution-friendly. The rise of ETFs is mainly attributable to institutional investors, such as hedge funds and pension funds. These funds were drawn to ETFs for their low cost, risk diversification, efficient beta and strong liquidity.

* Ensure a low tracking error. The tracking error is the difference between the net asset value of an ETF and its benchmark. A lower tracking error is one of the primary determinants of choosing an ETF.

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