Seeking more than single-digit returns and leery of the U.S. stock market, many planners and investors are increasingly searching for a better deal. "They're going into higher-yield dividend-paying stock funds, high-yield bond funds and Asia-Pacific funds to avoid U.S. bank exposure," says Michael Rawson, an ETF analyst at Morningstar. "Of course, reaching for greater yields means taking on more risk."

Jeff Tjornehoj, the head of Americas Research at Lipper, adds: "Stock market returns have moved into the high single digits in recent months. The problem is that rallies are often cut short almost as they begin, which causes a lot of hesitation among investors."

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