Many investors hold conflicting views that envision single-digit equity returns while maintaining the ability to meet their long-term financial goals, according a study by Allianz Global Investors.

On the one hand, the recent global market crisis has tempered investor expectations about the stock market. Just 27% of respondents expect equity returns of more than 8% over the next 12 months, and only 34% foresee returns of 8% or more five years from now.

On the other hand, many respondents still have high hopes for their golden years. Specifically, just 21% of pre-retirees think their standard of living in retirement will be worse than it is now. There's a disconnect there not only because it will be hard to achieve long-term financial goals with chintzy equity returns, but also because 54% of Americans have no more than $25,000 saved for retirement and household net worth remains more than 20% below pre-recession levels.

Furthermore, just 32% of respondents said they expect to retire later than originally planned.

These are disconnects where financial advisors can play a big role by helping investors wake up and smell the coffee.

"Advisors can be instrumental in helping clients get real--and stay real," said Eric Sutherland, head of advisory distribution and national accounts for Allianz Global Investors Distributors. "That means developing realistic goals, and keeping their clients focused on savings plans and portfolio allocations that are consistent with both their goals and tolerance for risk."

And that ties into another survey result that found that even though 72% of investors expect another major market meltdown to occur within five years, they're not doing enough to understand--or ameliorate--their portfolio risks.

Roughly one-third of respondents have little awareness or concern about the amount of cash in their portfolios, one-half believe it's either "not to" or "not at all" important to invest in inflation-protected securities, and only about one-quarter of them think that global diversification is important.

In addition, the survey found that nearly half of investors are "not too" or "not al all" knowledgeable about risks associated with bonds.

"Investors are struggling to understand and incorporate fixed income investments in their portfolios," Sutherland said.