Conflicting numbers from Phoenix Marketing International bimonthly survey of affluent and high-net-worth investors suggests that while they’re gloomier than usual about the economy’s prospects, they’re also investing more in the market than they were.

This survey, which Phoenix conducted in late-August/early September, polled 1,273 people on their current level of optimism about the market. Their three-month outlook was as bad as it was in early 2009 (59% were negative; that same number was positive as recently as April), but balances in deposit accounts increased more slowly as investors siphoned more money off into alternative investments, annuities and cash-value life insurance. The amount of investors planning on depleting their stock holdings doubled from 7% in April to 14% today.

Over that same period, the number of people wanting to buy cash-value life insurance swelled from 3% to 8%. Interest in investment in retirement accounts, where most people increase holdings, fell from 24% in April to 17% in September, a significant drop.

Overall, investors are taking an active stance, says David Thompson, managing director of Phoenix in Rhinebeck, N.Y. “They seem to have realized the economy isn’t going anywhere soon, but the market has wrung out many of its woes and it is now attracting new money,” he says.

That’s a clarion call to advisors—their clients may not be happy, but they are willing to talk about their investment options. “It’s a good time to recommend clients put their money back in the market,” Thompson says. While they’re still worried about the economy as a whole, “they’re now a lot less worried about their own investment outlook.”


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