Bucking their overall skepticism or outright distrust of financial services companies, 90% of Americans trust the advice their financial planners have been giving them amid the financial turmoil of the past two years, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index.

The January reading of the index also found that 76% of middle-class Americans who work with a financial planner are trustful of planners in general. On the other hand, only 47% of those without a financial planner said they would trust one with their money.

“These results underscore the value that America’s financial planners are bringing to the lives of their clients,” said Terri Kallsen, executive vice president of strategic development at First Command Financial Services. “Financial planners are earning the trust of those Americans who have continued to rely on and benefit from their professional advice and services during this period of economic turmoil.”

Ninety-four percent describe their planner as: confident, willing to listen (92%), understanding (91%), honest, trustworthy, knowledgeable and patient (90% apiece), providing them with a sense of security (89%) and sense of hope (88%).

The survey also found the 90% who appreciate their financial planner cited the following reasons why: 21% have developed a personal relationship with their planner, 12% believe they are given good service, 10% have been with the same planner for a number of years and 10% believe their planner is especially knowledgeable.

Looking at the year ahead, 15% of middle-class Americans who don’t have a planner say they are likely to engage one in 2010. Among those already working with a professional, 44% selected them based on a recommendation from a friend or family member. One in five selected a friend or family member as their planner.

“Financial planning is a trust-based profession built on personal relationships,” Kallsen added. “Consumers are not swayed by well-known corporate brands or Madison Avenue-style advertising campaigns. Rather, they are looking to trust their financial to a personal coach who is willing to listen and committed to providing the honest guidance and patient advice.”

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