John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index® Rises Slightly in Final Quarter of 2013

- Interest in equities continues to grow, with investors regarding technology, energy and healthcare as the most promising sectors

- Enthusiasm for retirement plan investments is up sharply over Q4 2012

- Compared with Q4 2012, significantly more investors say their financial position has improved over the last two years.

Jan 06, 2014, 10:00 ET from John Hancock Financial

BOSTON, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index® moved upward slightly in the fourth quarter of 2013, to +22 from +20, as investors grew increasingly positive toward investing in equities. The Index ended 2013 four points higher than the fourth quarter of 2012, and seven points higher than the same period in 2011.

Positive attitudes toward stocks rose to 60 percent in Q4 of 2013, compared with 55 percent in the third quarter of the year. Investors also remain positive on stock mutual funds (56 percent); this level is significantly higher than the fourth quarter of 2012, when 45 percent had a favorable view of them. Optimism holds steady for investing in Lifestyle/Target Risk Funds (39 percent) and Target Date Funds (35 percent). Investors remain negatively disposed toward bonds, with 39 percent saying now is a bad time to invest in the fixed income instruments, and 64 percent say staying in cash is to be avoided.  

Retirement investment vehicles are growing in popularity, with eight in 10 investors saying now is a good time to invest in 401(k) plans (83 percent) and IRAs (81 percent). This is a significant increase over one year ago, when 73 percent viewed 401(k) plans favorably and 72 percent were positively inclined toward IRAs.

The share of investors who believe they are in a better financial position now compared with two years ago has risen to 52 percent, up ten points from the fourth quarter of 2012.  Optimism is prevailing, with half of investors also expecting that their situation will improve in 2014.

"While our survey shows investors solidifying their confidence in financial markets, there are, to be sure, several issues that continue to worry them," said Bill Cheney, John Hancock's Chief Economist.  "A chief concern is being able to afford high-quality healthcare (66 percent), but the share of investors who express this is down from the third quarter of 2013 when it was 71 percent. Many investors mention that they are at least somewhat concerned about being able to afford nursing home or long-term care if needed (59 percent). Others worry about running out of money in retirement (52 percent), and about experiencing a substantial decline in assets just before retiring (45 percent)."

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About the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey

John Hancock's Investor Sentiment Survey is a quarterly poll of affluent investors.  The survey measures investors' feelings about the current economic climate and their evaluations of what represents a good or bad investment given the current environment.  The poll also asks consumers about their confidence in reaching key financial goals and their attitudes toward specific financial products and services.  This online survey was conducted by independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates.  A total of 1,031 investors were surveyed from November 11th to November 22nd, 2013.    To qualify, respondents were required to participate at least to some extent in their household's financial decision-making process, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000 or more. The data were weighted by age and education to reflect the population of Americans matching the survey's qualification requirements. In a similarly-sized random sample survey, the margin of error would be plus or minus 3.11 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. 

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial

John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife Financial, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$575 billion (US$559 billion) as at September 30, 2013.  Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at

SOURCE John Hancock Financial