Investors are increasingly recognizing the need for professional advice and comprehensive financial planning. Half of GenX investors, 46% of Baby Boomers and 45% of Matures believed they needed "the help of professionals," according to the most recent "Across Generations" survey from MainStay Investments, a division of New York Life Investment Management.

These figures are up about 10% for all three groups over 2004. Furthermore, among GenXers who do not have a financial plan, 56% recognize the need to establish one, up from 50% last year; 39% of Boomers agreed, up from 35% last year.

One shift that may cause investors longer-term problems is a tendency to invest more conservatively. With more investors choosing conservative options and identifying themselves are conservatives, they potentially hamstring their ability to meet future financial needs because of weaker performance.

"Investors who change their investment approach--and shift assets as a result--based on the recent history in the capital markets are far more likely to do damage to their long-term financial well-being than those who follow a comprehensive financial plan," said Beverly Moore, managing director of wealth strategies at MainStay Investments. "We're seeing a real disconnect between investors' attitudes and their lifetime goals. They're driving by the rear-view mirror."

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