Small business owners prefer financial advisors who they perceive to be independent of product providers, according to a recent online study by Brightwork Partners of Greenwich, Conn. and Greenfield Online of Wilton, Conn.

The small business owners who participated in the survey expressed a strong preference for dealing with independent, objective investment advisors, regardless of whether their advice was for the owner's personal portfolio or for business purposes, such as a retirement plan for employees, according to Greenfield Online.

For the study, 1,400 small business owners were surveyed, said Ron Bush, a principal at Brightwork Partners.

When asked to choose an advisor that would be most helpful in choosing a retirement plan for their employees, 37 percent of those surveyed said they preferred an unaffiliated financial planner, 20 percent preferred a benefit consultant, 11 percent chose an accountant, 10 percent chose an affiliated financial planner, five percent chose an insurance agent, two percent chose a banker, and one percent chose a stockbroker.

When asked what type of advisor would be most helpful in choosing mutual funds for their personal portfolio, 40 percent of small business owners chose an unaffiliated financial planner. Nineteen percent chose a stockbroker, 18 percent chose an affiliated financial planner, five percent chose a banker, and one percent chose an insurance agent.

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