MFS Investment Management’s “Investing Sentiment Survey,” the first of three surveys that it plans to release this year, found a tremendous disconnect between what advisers think are investors’ views toward the market and what their actual perceptions are.

Twenty percent of advisers think a major drop in the stock market is investors’ top financial concern, but that is true for only 5% of investors.

Seventy-two percent of advisers think U.S. equities are an excellent or very good place to invest, but only 36% of investors agree.

Sixty percent of advisers think international stocks are an excellent or very good place to invest, but only 22% of investors think so.

Seventy-five percent of advisers think investors are much more or somewhat more risk tolerant over the past 12 months, but only 15% of investors say they are willing to take on more risk.

Further, 84% of advisers think Gen X/Y’s primary investing goal is to grow assets, but this is true for only 39% of this group. Conversely, 9% of advisers think Gen X/Y’s primary goal is to protect principal, but for 22%, this is their primary goal. Advisers think Gen X/Y have 50% of their portfolio in U.S. equities and 9% in cash, but in reality, 34% of their portfolios are in equities and 30% is in cash.

Likewise, 35% of advisers think investors are optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy over the next five years, but 47% of investors said they are optimistic.

“While these disconnects show a need for advisers to reconsider how they view their clients, the survey shoed that advisers are underestimating investors’ optimism about the future of the U.S. economy,” said William Finnegan, senior managing director of retail marketing at MFS. “With Gen X/Y maturing and Boomers approaching critical decision points for retirement, we believe advisers should reassess how they communicate with clients, and what the lasting impact of 2008’s financial crisis has had on investors’ risk tolerance.”

MFS will release additional findings from the survey over the next several weeks.

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