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Nationwide Financial Survey Finds Fear of the Markets Trumps Fear of Death

July 24, 2013

Health care costs, funding children's education among top three financial fears

King of Prussia, Pennslyvania - A new Nationwide Financial survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that Americans are more afraid of investing in the stock market than they are of losing their jobs, public speaking and even dying. And despite those fears, many – especially younger investors – would rather use a website for their financial planning needs than meet with an investment professional.

According to the “Fear of Financial Planning” survey released today, of the 783 potential investors over the age of 18 who had at least $100,000 in investable assets, 62 percent are scared of investing in the stock market, while 58 percent fear death, 57 percent fear public speaking and 37 percent fear losing their jobs. Despite this revelation, more than one in two millennials and nearly half of generation X (58 and 48 percent) turn to websites before financial advisors for help with financial planning.

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

Millennials and generation Xers share these fears. Nearly four in five (77 and 78 percent, respectively) are afraid that they will not be able to have the lifestyle they want in retirement, and approximately two-thirds (66 percent of millennials and 65 percent of generation X) 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 Michael Spangler, president of Nationwide Funds, Nationwide Financial’s mutual fund business. “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.”

Rather than working with an investment professional, generation X and millennials are more likely to use websites as their primary financial planning resource. Forty-three percent of generation X and 51 percent of millennials use an advisor for their financial planning needs, which is fewer than those using websites (48 percent and 58 percent). However, 78 percent of retirees and 61 percent of high-net-worth investors (those with $250,000 or more in investable assets) use a financial advisor as their top resource for financial planning needs.

“While it’s important that Americans take an active role in planning, it’s critical they are looking not only at retirement, but their entire financial picture, from retirement to financing a child’s education to eldercare. They need to be focused on the right things,” Spangler said. “In many cases, the right things are very complex and an investor needs to have access to the right tools, products and most important, the expertise to make sense out of what they are finding online.”

“Too often we see investors set up a 401(k) or savings account and assume they have a financial plan,” Spangler said. “The reality of planning is much, much, more complex than that. More important, investors need to understand that it is never too late to start planning and working with a professional who can help them reach their long-term goals.”


The study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Nationwide Financial from March 26 - April 3, 2013, and participants included 783 Americans ages 18 and older with a minimum of $100,000 in investable assets. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and a therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

For additional analysis of the survey results, be sure to check out Nationwide’s infographic on Investors interested in learning more about Nationwide Funds should contact their financial professional or visit the website. Financial professionals interested in learning more should call the Nationwide Funds sales desk at 877-877-5083, option 3.

About Nationwide Funds

Based in the Philadelphia area, Nationwide Funds is the mutual fund business of Nationwide Financial Services Inc., a leading provider of long-term savings and retirement products and a Nationwide Insurance company. A strategic partner to advisors, Nationwide Funds provides a full family of sub-advised mutual funds designed to help meet the unique investment goals and risk tolerances of their investor clients. As of March 31, 2013, Nationwide Funds manages 91 funds with approximately $46 billion in net assets.

About Nationwide

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides customers a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, pet, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and specialty health services. For more information, visit