Investor confidence fell a bit in the third quarter of 2012 from the second quarter but is up when compared to the third quarter of 2011, according to the John Hancock Investor Sentiment Index.

One of the largest life insurers in the US, Boston-based John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corp., a Canadian-based financial services company.

On a quarterly basis, John Hancock’s index seeks to measure investors’ views on a range of investment choices, life goals, and economic outlook, as well as their confidence in these areas. The index recorded a +17 score for the third quarter of 2012, down from +19 score in the second quarter. The index score for the third quarter of 2011 was +10.

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“Investors are showing consistency in their attitudes toward many investment products, and seem to be saying there isn’t much on the horizon that would cause them to change their views,”Bill Cheney, John Hancock’s chief economist, said in a statement. “We are continuing to see positive trends, for example with investors remaining committed to investing in retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs. Nine in 10 investors (88 percent) are confident in their ability to maintain a financially secure retirement. And 94 percent of those we surveyed describe themselves as long-term investors.”

The third-quarter 2012 index score was calculated from the results of an online survey conducted by independent research firm Mathew Greenwald & Associates. A total of 1,027 investors were surveyed from Aug. 13 to Aug. 24. Respondents were required to participate in their household’s financial decisions, have a household income of at least $75,000, and assets of $100,000.