After two years of economic and market volatility, Americans say they are more concerned about their finances, yet, they are not turning to financial planners in droves to help them manage their money.
According to a survey conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, 28% said that they used a financial planner in the recent survey, compared with 29% two years ago. Nevertheless, 43% said that financial planners are more important since the financial crisis started two years ago, the CFP Board said during a press call Tuesday. The CFP Board, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday, drew the findings from a phone survey of 1,002 Americans on July 7 and July 8.
“There are a lot of reasons why Americans have been reluctant to hire financial advisors in the past,” Glovsky said. Often, Americans believe financial planning services are for the wealthy, not for the middle class. Also, Americans probably don’t know where to find an advisor that they can trust.
As financial products available to Americans becomes more diverse and complex, however, it will become more necessary for investors to entrust their financial futures to a financial planner, Glovsky said. The task before the profession now is to get the public to understand what a CFP certificant does and what distinguishes them from a professional who does not have that designation.
Among those Americans who began using a financial planner since the start of the financial crisis, 31% said they had done so because difficult times created more need for financial guidance. An even larger group of respondents, 44%, said they leaned on financial planners for reasons other than the crisis. “A lot of people will look for a financial planner when going through a life transition,” Robert Glovsky, the CFP Board chairman said during the call.
He added, though, that the financial crisis might have heightened existing concerns about having enough money to retire comfortably.
Another 36% of those surveyed saw no change in their attitude toward financial planners, and 14% thought the professionals were less important.
They might need a professional’s help, according to the survey results. In general, about 65% of respondents said they were more concerned about their finances today than they were at the beginning of the financial crisis two years ago. Thirty-seven percent said they expect to see their personal finances improve in the next six months. Less than half, 46%, said they expect to hold into what they have, and 16% said they expect to lose money.
Also, a plurality of respondents, 33%, said they were cautious about their finances in general, and 65% said they are more concerned about their money than they were at the beginning of the financial crisis.
On the broader economy, 44% of respondents said they expect the U.S. economy to improve in the next six months; just 28% said they expect it to worsen; and 22% said they see no change in that time frame.
Lawmakers did not inspire confidence in the survey respondents. Eighty percent of those polled said Congress and regulators have not done enough to manage the problems in the financial markets, and their impact on investors.
In other findings, respondents chose slow-moving animals like sloths, bears, turtles and elephants to describe the economy.
Also, the survey uncovered different perspectives on the economy according to ethnicity. While 74% of African-Americans and 51% of Hispanics expected the economy to improve, just 38% of white respondents did.