Investors are more worried about the threat of a stock market crash than they are about the effects of inflation, according to a recent survey of financial advisers.

However, the advisers said they believe that inflation and inattention to finances pose the biggest threats to their clients' wealth.

"Clients need more investment education," said Lyle K. Benson, president of L.K. Benson & Co., an accounting firm in Baltimore, and chairman of the conference of certified public accountants where the survey was taken.

"People fear the short-term volatility of markets, while the real culprit is the long-term effect of inflation, leading to a decrease in purchasing power." He added that an overemphasis on fixed-income or annuity investments "can be dangerous."

The survey results were based on responses from 123 CPAs who provide financial and investment planning at a conference of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The CPAs said their clients are more likely to request help with selecting specific investments, rather than with coordinating investments or with asset allocation.

Investors don't spend the time they need on personal finances, and often have a "jumbled mess of investments that don't make sense," Mr. Benson said.

The investments typically are spread over a number of different companies, with no real thought paid to allocating assets in a way aimed at generating a certain level of return.

The CPAs said their clients are much more likely to rate mutual funds or money managers based on historic rates of return rather than on the manager's investment style. The CPAs ranked unscrupulous brokers as the third-biggest threat to clients' wealth, after inattention to finances and inflation.

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