Cash-equivalents are the most commonly held investments of affluent Americans, according to a U.S. Trust Co. study.

About 86% of the people surveyed for the study hold certificates of deposits and money market funds and accounts.

As for noncash investments, 70% said that they held growth stocks, 61% held blue chip stocks, and 56% held municipal bonds.

The least favored investment was gold, held by 19% of the surveyed households.

Second in a Series

The survey of 151 people was conducted by New York-based Financial Market Research inc. The firm interviewed members of households with adjusted gross incomes of at least $200,000, or net worths of at least $3 million.

It is the second U.S. Trust study in a series looking at affluent Americans.

An average portfolio, according to the survey, would have 29% in equities, 21% in bonds, 18% in cash, and 32% in real estate, futures, options, and other investments.

In terms of safety, U.S. securities were rated the safest investment, while international stocks and bonds were viewed as the riskiest.

Affluent investors see themselves as risk averse compared with "other people." Within the group, 43% considered themselves less willing to take risks, 27% described themselves as average risk takers, and 30% described themselves as more willing to take risk than the average investor.

"The real surprise was that these people describe themselves as risk averse but made their money through a private business or real estate," said Frederick B. Taylor, U.S. Trust Co.'s chief financial officer.

Overall, the survey found that between November 1992 and March 1993, the affluent investor became more confident and was particularly hot on equities.

"It was interesting to me that they were more bullish in all investment categories," said Mr. Taylor. "As a professional, I think that's a little misplaced and a little contradictory."

Strategies Revised

Mr. Taylor explained that though U.S. Trust is not bearish, it holds lower investment expectations because of current economic conditions than do the affluent people surveyed.

Looking ahead, those surveyed said they planned to invest more in tax-exempt municipal bonds, private businesses, and international stocks and bonds.

They planned to put less money in U.S. government securities, gold, collectibles, cash equivalents, taxable corporate bonds, blue chip stocks, and investment real estate.

More than 40% of those surveyed held some mutual funds. Of those, 53% said that they had money in international stock and bond funds.

That was the most popular type of mutual fund "probably because it is the easiest, most economical, and least risky way to diversify one's portfolio internationally," the study said.

Other popular mutual fund groups included those that invest in growth stocks, cash equivalents, municipal bonds, and blue-chip stocks.

"Mutual funds have given these people a real vehicle to move into some of these areas with relative ease," Mr. Taylor said.

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