Investors still are paralyzed by fear of losing money in a volatile market and need the assistance of financial advisors to learn about new investment possibilities, according to a new study by Natixis.

Natixis, a global asset management company with $711 billion in assets under management, says investors continue to avoid risk even if it means sacrificing returns.

This creates the perfect opportunity for advisors to be of service to their clients and to build relationships with new clients, says Robert M. Hussey, executive vice president of the institutional services group for Natixis Global Asset Management.

According to the Natixis survey of 702 individuals in the United States with $200,000 or more to invest, 83 percent of respondents fear they cannot meet their retirement goals and 77 percent are concerned about outliving their assets.

And yet, 58 percent say they will take only minimal investment risk on investments even if it means sacrificing returns.

"It shows people have long memories," Hussey says, "and even since the crisis of 2008, there has been a lot of volatility over the last three years."

According to the survey, volatility has eroded the confidence of 71 percent of respondents and has reduced the expectations for future investment returns for 70 percent.

More than 80 percent are worried about consumer confidence, higher taxes on investments and earned income, the European debt crisis, and the political uncertainty of the U.S. election.

Fear shows itself in such things as the 53 percent who say achieving stability in volatile times is their top priority, the 57 percent who are not reducing cash investments, and the fact that only 28 percent feel highly confident their portfolio can manage volatility. Nearly one in four households (22 percent) with incomes of $500,000 or more believe most investments are a pure gamble.

"Investors recognize that they need to grow their savings, but they are paralyzed by fear and uncertain about how best to generate returns or protect principal in today's volatile markets," says John T. Hailer, Natixis CEO. "They would like to try new things but they need to know more. There are strategies that can help investors manage risk and create a durable portfolio, but investors don't yet know enough about them."

Only 39 percent currently invest in alternatives, while 52 percent say they are interested in investment products that are unrelated to the performance of the broader markets. However, almost half (48 percent) say they have little or no knowledge of alternatives and 64 percent say they need to know more before they would invest.

On the positive side, 62 percent of those surveyed say they are more interested in discussing risk with their advisors and 59 percent say they are revealing their expectations to their advisors more than in the past.

"Financial advisors have an important role to play in educating their clients about how to build durable portfolios that can smoothly navigate this risk and volatility, perform in both up and down markets, and help investors achieve their goals for retirement," Hailer says.

-Karen DeMasters