The three-year bear market and unemployment have caused investors to be less concerned with growing their portfolio than merely protecting their assets, a John Hancock Financial survey shows. And this focus is likely to continue for some time to come.

"We found that financial decision makers today are increasingly conservative, focusing more on protecting their financial assets and families than building wealth," said James Benson, senior executive vice president at John Hancock. "Many have altered their portfolios to reduce their exposure to risk and are more interested in products with guaranteed or fixed rates of return."

Seventy-six percent of the 600 people interviewed said they are more conservative today and 73% said they are unlikely to invest in a product that runs the risk of losing money. Nearly three-quarters, 72%, said they expect to continue this mindset even once the economy recovers. And 63% said they are more focused on asset protection than on growth.

Annuities, whole and term life insurance and long-term care insurance also have gained favor. Seventy-one percent said they would invest in annuities, 60% said they would invest in whole life insurance, 59% in term life insurance and 53% long-term care insurance.

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