Small investors are still wary of the stock market, poll shows

Even as share prices hit one new high after another, small investors have only a small portion of their assets in the stock market, according to a new survey.

U.S. investors have just 18% of their investable assets in stocks, according to a global survey by BlackRock, the big money-management firm. They’ve stowed another 7% in bonds.

So where are people putting their money? Low-yielding cash investments such as bank accounts and money-market funds. More than 48% of assets are in cash, according to the survey.

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California residents are a bit heartier than their brethren around the country, but not much. Nearly 20% of Californians' assets are in stocks, while just shy of 44% is in cash.

The poll is the latest sign of the emotional trauma lingering in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Many retail investors suffered bruising losses during the crisis and remain fearful of stocks even as the market has rebounded and gone on to the new highs.

Such wariness makes sense given that it's the fourth year of a bull market. But small fry have been chary throughout the bull run, meaning many have missed out on big gains.

Their hesitance could backfire if investors end up with paltry retirement savings.

“More than ever in a new world ushered in by crisis, people at all income levels need answers on how to better manage their money for the future,” said Rob S. Kapito, BlackRock president. “They’re understandably unnerved and are holding too much of their money in assets that are earning them nothing or that will lose value if interest rates rise.

BlackRock polled 17,567 investors worldwide, including 4,000 Americans, across all income levels.


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