Long-term care is a top worry among high net worth and affluent investors of all ages, which opens new opportunities for conversations financial advisors can have with clients, according to the latest Investor Watch Report from UBS Wealth Management Americas.

The survey, which was conducted in March, included responses from 2,611 U.S. investors between ages 25 and 90 with at least $250,000 in investable assets. Half of the respondents have $1 million or more investable assets.

Of those respondents, the number of investors who cited long-term care - including health care and other support - as a top concern climbed to 31% from 26% in January. For 16% of the investors surveyed, long-term care ranked as a greater concern than retirement.

Investors also said they do not feel prepared for to fund the long-term care they will need. While 64% of investors indicated they are “highly prepared” when it comes to retirement planning, just 37% said they are highly prepared with regard to planning for their long-term care needs. And those results also hold an opportunity for financial advisors, with 39% of investors ages 25 to 49 indicating they are interested in more guidance for their long-term care planning.

“This is a harder conversation for advisors to have with clients than even life insurance, because talking about long-term care is actually acknowledging that you are losing self-reliance,” Emily Pachuta, head of investor insights at UBS, said in an interview.

The investors surveyed indicated they have a vision for what their ideal long-term care conditions would look like, including maintaining self-sufficiency, staying in their homes and not burdening their families. “They have that vision of what it should look like, and yet they have no plans,” Pachuta said.

New Views on Risk

While confidence has risen, investors are still treading lightly when it comes to risk, the survey also found. The number of investors who say they are in “excellent” or “very good” financial shape rose to 64% from 44% six months ago. But 41% of the investors surveyed indicated that they think of risk as a permanent portfolio loss, a response that Pachuta said is evidence of the scars still lingering from the market turmoil of 2008.

“We actually thought that we would see investors going back or indicating that they were going to go back into the markets, but we didn’t see that,” Pachuta said. “They’re sitting on about 20% in cash, and that remains steady over the past three years regardless of age.”

While investors feel more confident financially – with 52% indicating they are better off now than a year ago – they are not prepared to take on more risk. Of the individuals surveyed, 70% indicated they are more worried about curbing losses than the 30% who worry about not getting into the rising markets.

At the same time, 22% said they have “significant cash positions” and 26% said they do not plan to reduce those cash holdings. And while 29% of investors said that they avoid taking on debt, most investors said they weigh their borrowing habits into good debt and bad debt categories.

Heightened Concerns from Women

The female investors surveyed indicated they have the same concerns as men, but their worries are more elevated.

That includes the 44% of women who said they are concerned about the future of Social Security versus 30% of men; 37% of females who said they are worried about long-term care compared to 27% of men; and 25% who are worried about who will care for them when they are elderly versus 13% of men.

“On average, women live five years longer than men” and are also more likely to be caregivers to their parents, spouses or other family members, Pachuta said. “They’re much more conscious about their need for and others’ need for some of these social services.”

For financial advisors, all of those concerns point to a need for having deeper conversation with clients, according to Pachuta.

“Financial advisors need to have a real conversation with their clients about how that client views risk, really listen to what the client is saying and strip out a lot of the jargon the industry uses,” Pachuta said.

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