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Older investors holding on to equity funds


Older investors make wise investors, according to Scudder Kemper Investments.

A study conducted by Scudder Kemper's AARP Investment Program- a family of funds aimed at people 50 years old and over- found that many investors over 50 will not alter their investment habits even when the market is turbulent.

The recent survey found that 71 percent of investors over 54 years old planned to neither add nor subtract from their equity fund holdings. Fifty-three percent of those between ages 50 and 54 said they would actually add to their stock fund holdings over the next six months.

These statistics are an indication that older investors are not panicking because of shaky markets and that they are adhering to buy and hold strategies.

"The 50-plus (investors) are pretty comfortable with the market right now, and I think that's probably from experience," said Steven Shapiro, vice president of corporate communications with Scudder Kemper.

Older investors are acting this way because they are comfortable with such risk and they know how to manage that risk as they get older, Shapiro said.

"They're smarter about the market," he said.

The study surveyed investors 18 years old and older. The AARP Investment Program is a mutual fund family designed specifically for investors 50 and older. It was created in 1985 and now offers 15 no-load funds and has $16 billion under management. Although the funds invest in a everything from bonds to international equities, investments in any given category are generally less risky than for funds not specifically targeted to older investors.

This older group of investors is no different than investors overall who also plan overwhelmingly to remain in the equity markets. Only two percent of all investors said they would trim back their stock mutual fund holdings, and 44 percent said they were planning to increase their equity fund holdings over the next six months.

"These findings point to a positive evolution among American investors," said Lin Coughlin, chairperson of the AARP Investment Program, in a statement. "Volatility in the markets has merely stirred investors, not shaken them. Rather than prompting rash decisions and market timing, fluctuations have fostered a sensibility for risk-intelligent, long-term investing."

The study also found that investors are investing in international and small-cap funds, both of which have been viewed as risky investments. A quarter of all small-cap fund owners said they would increase their holdings in this asset class, and 71 percent said they planned to remain invested in that class. A quarter of international fund owners also expressed a similar desire to increase their holdings in that asset class. A mere eight percent said they would decrease their international fund holdings.