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Half of Americans Sit on Stock Market Sidelines

COUNTRY Survey: Distrust in the stock market lingers in the post-recession economy


August 19, 2014


BLOOMINGTON  – The stock market might have rebounded since the financial crisis, but according to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey, many Americans are still wary of investing or simply unable to get started. Just over half of Americans (51 percent) say they do not invest in the stock or bond markets in any way.

For those that do not invest, 56 percent say not having enough money is the biggest obstacle. Americans also cite distrust of the stock and bond markets (12 percent) and not knowing how to get started (11 percent) as prominent barriers.

Of the 45 percent who invest, they’re focused on the future and are diligent about regularly checking their investments.

An overwhelming majority (88 percent) invest to improve their long-term savings.

Seventy-eight percent review their portfolios at least quarterly.

Regardless of whether or not they invest, Americans are struggling to keep pace with the speed of the market. Half say they find it difficult to keep up with the volatility of the stock market.

“Investing is a key component of any financial plan, and while half of people say they’re not invested, they might still be unknowingly benefiting from market upswings through an automatic 401(k) enrollment at work, for example,” says Troy Frerichs, director of wealth management at COUNTRY Financial. “Investing may seem daunting at first, but the key takeaway is any level of involvement is a good starting point.”


Do Americans have trust issues?

Perhaps as a result of the economic downturn, levels of trust in the stock and bond markets and who Americans consult for investment advice varies noticeably across generations.

Those age 50 and older expressed higher levels of unease, with one in five Baby Boomers (21 percent) citing distrust in the stock and bond markets as their biggest reason for not investing.

For those who invest, 42 percent say a financial planner is their most trusted decision maker. Americans over 65 are significantly more likely to trust a financial planner, with 61 percent of them citing a planner as their primary resource for investment advice.

However, those under age 30 are more likely to consult internet research (27 percent) than a financial planner (22 percent) when it comes to investment decisions.

With Americans turning to financial planners and online research, an overwhelming majority (87 percent) say they’re rarely or never consulted by friends or family about their investment decisions.

“With a market that’s more complex and faster-moving than ever, having a resource you trust for advice, whether it’s a financial planner or online research, is essential,” adds Frerichs. “Investing helps you build financial stability and achieve your financial goals. Your investment strategy should be tailored to your unique needs. Reviewing it annually and after major life events can help keep you on track.”

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®

Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans’ sentiments of their personal financial security. The COUNTRY Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at and on Twitter at @FinanceSecure.


The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by GfK, an independent research firm. Surveys were conducted using GfK’s KnowledgePanel TM, a national, probability-based panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from approximately 1,000 U.S. adults for national surveys.

The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.


About COUNTRY Financial

The COUNTRY Financial group ( serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.