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Investor Perceptions and Preferences Toward Selected Stock Market Conditions and Practices: An AARP Survey of Stock Owners Ages 50 and Older

In recent years, stock market investors have weathered a sluggish economy, the steep market declines prompted by the September 11th terrorist attacks, trade deficits, and reports of countless scandals, ranging from illegal corporate accounting practices to insider trading. This nationwide online survey of investors ages 50 and older was conducted by AARP to examine their perceptions of selected securities industry practices, the stock market, and financial services professionals in light of the events of the past few years.

To the majority of investors surveyed, dishonesty, lack of accountability, lack of consumer protection, and insider trading remain big problems. Most, however, have little confidence in their ability to conduct trades without the assistance of financial services professionals and prefer having their investments managed by others. The majority consider obtaining the best available share price a top priority when investing in stocks and mutual funds. Most investors feel securities industry regulation should be stronger than it is today, and are especially concerned about losing money, lack of ethics in the marketplace, and the state of the economy.

The survey was conducted from February 13 through 20, 2004 by Knowledge Networks, a California-based research firm, using its web-enabled panel of people who have agreed to participate in surveys. This panel is designed to be representative of the U.S. population and was built by providing Internet devices and Internet service connections to people who have agreed to serve on the online panel. A total of 1,917 households participated in the survey. The report was prepared by S. Kathi Brown of AARP Knowledge Management who may be contacted at 202/434-6296 for further information. (58 pages)