Facebook and Twitter may have the market cornered when it comes to immediate, mass-audience polling and recommendations, but when it comes time to select the person who will be responsible for a person's financial livelihood, investors still want to a referral from a trusted relative or friend.
That's the upshot of a new survey commissioned by First Command Financial Services which queried almost 1,000 investors between 25 and 70 years of age to find out who they turn to when they're looking to sign on with a firm or an advisor to shepherd their long- and short-term investments.
Not only are 43% of those defined as middle class with annual incomes of at least $50,000 going with the advisors recommended by friends and family, a full 90% say they trust their financial planner and would recommend that person to others.
Advertising and brand name aside, the survey finds that most people are more interested in anecdotal tales from the people they know and love rather than statistics and return rates proffered by so many large financial services firms.
"People who are looking for financial advice they can trust do not typically rely on facts and figures," Scott Spiker, the chief executive officer of First Command Financial Services said in the report. "So it’s no surprise that consumers rely on personal relationships when shopping for a planner. They ask the people they most trust in their lives, their friends and family."
Twenty-two percent of respondents said their current financial planner was referred to them by a friend and another 15% was described as either a friend or a family member.
For all the credence many financial advisors place on the benefits of attending or presenting at conferences and seminars, the survey found that only 1% of middle-class investors stumbled upon their current advisor from a presentation or seminar.
Another 10% did some due diligence and found their advisor from independent research. Fifteen percent opted for a financial pro recommended by their employer. Most surprisingly, perhaps, was the discovery that only 4% of investors pulled the trigger after interviewing the advisor in person.
"Middle-class Americans are looking to trust their finances to a personal coach," Spiker added. "They want someone who is willing to listen and is committed to providing the honest guidance and patient advice."
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