American investors’ long-term financial goals are out of sync with the risks they’re willing to take to reach them, finds a new survey by asset manager Natixis.

While about 70% of those polled said that growing their assets is increasingly more important than protecting their principal investment, nearly 60% also said they were unwilling to take on more than minimal risk.

This disconnect stems partly from investors not understanding the nature of their investments. Three-quarters claimed to only invest in products that they understood well. But only one-quarter said that their overall investment knowledge is very strong.

“This demonstrates a great opportunity for financial advisors and the industry to help educate investors on realistic expectations and strategies to reach their goals,” said John Hailer, CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management in the Americas and Asia, in a statement.

The financial crisis and other recent market upheavals have also weakened investors’ risk tolerance and altered what returns they believe that they can realistically get from their investments.

About 60% of those surveyed do not think that traditional allocation strategies will yield the best returns.

“They’re looking for a better strategy to help them stay invested for the long term,” said Hailer.

But while investors may be wary of the markets, their worries about having enough during retirement may yet push them into new, riskier investments. A majority cited the exploding costs of long-term care as their biggest concern when planning for retirement.

Should the returns on their portfolio come up short, about half would keep working and nearly a third would rely on the support of family members.

The survey included 1,050 investors and was part of a global survey of almost 6,000 investors in 14 countries.

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