January 31, 2011 / 5:16 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Affluent US women worry more about outliving money

* Women plan to be more active in retirement than men-study

* Women more concerned than men about running out of money

* Nearly half of investors call themselves “conservative” (Adds details on conservative investors, comments from Merrill Lynch executive)

By Helen Kearney

NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Affluent women expect to be more active than their male counterparts in retirement, but they are also more worried about outliving their money, according to a Bank of America (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch study.

The vast majority of affluent baby boomers believe their retirement will be more active and prosperous than that of their parents, the quarterly survey found.

It also found 70 percent of respondents expect to work, at least part time, to fund that lifestyle.

The survey polled 1,000 Americans with at least $250,000 in investable assets.

Affluent women, in particular, expect to keep very busy in the retirement. Some 86 percent plan to travel, compared with two-thirds of men. Nearly two-thirds of women also plan to be involved in their communities, compared with 43 percent of men.

“Women are leaning toward an active retirement,” Lyle LaMothe, head of U.S. wealth management for Merrill Lynch, said at a presentation for journalists. “A lot of fellows just want to find the couch and sit on it for a while.”

Women are also more worried about the rising costs of healthcare and whether they will have enough money to last them through their lifetime.

About 70 percent of the women surveyed said they worried about rising healthcare costs, compared with 57 percent of men. Similarly, 63 percent of women were worried about their money running out, compared with 52 percent of men.

Merrill Lynch said the survey also revealed that the majority of respondents did not understand the impact of investing conservatively.

Nearly half of the respondents described themselves as “conservative” investors, and two-thirds of those believed that being conservative helped to shield them from losses.

Only a quarter acknowledged that they might also be giving up opportunities for growth during stronger markets.

The most conservative investors were also the youngest group surveyed. Nearly 60 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 described themselves as conservative.

Many people in this group lived through two of the worst bear markets in history just as they were starting their careers, and it has made them wary of investing in the markets, said LaMothe.

“It’s a very serious phenomenon and it shows we have a lot of work to do,” he said. “That group can’t stay at 60 percent (identifying themselves as conservative) throughout their lives and achieve their goals or help our economy.” (Reporting by Helen Kearney; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and John Wallace)

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