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Americans worry about finances but reject financial advice

November 05, 2012

| Money Rates Columnist

While nearly half of Americans report feeling anxious about their financial future, many are apparently not concerned enough to implement the finance advice they receive. Only a third consistently take action after receiving financial advice, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of financial services provider TIAA-CREF.

In addition to looking at overall compliance with financial advice, the survey considered differences that exist among various demographic groups when it comes to seeking out and using this advice.

Gen Y most likely to look for guidance

According to the survey, younger consumers are most likely to seek out financial advice. Of those between the ages of 18-34, often referred to as Generation Y, approximately 40 percent say they look for financial advice at least a couple times a month. In addition, these individuals were most likely to go online, with 60 percent saying they are likely to use Internet tools to implement changes based upon the advice received.

While young consumers may be more likely to seek advice, Baby Boomers between the ages of 55-64 report having difficulty finding financial advice, and only one in three say they use the advice they receive on a consistent basis.

Between genders, women appear to have greater difficulty finding financial advice than men. Half of the women surveyed believe personalized advice costs more than they can afford, and one in three say they don't have time to do research. However, once women receive advice, 90 percent put it into action at least some of the time.

Personalized advice makes a difference

A representative from TIAA-CREF says personalized financial advice tends to be more likely to be implemented.

"We've seen personalized objective advice help drive positive outcomes for our participants," said James Nichols, managing director of advice and planning services for TIAA-CREF, in a written statement.

In an analysis of TIAA-CREF clients, individuals receiving specific, personalized investment advice were 60 percent more likely to use it than those who received more generic financial guidance. Nichols notes of those that implemented this advice, half had increased their retirement fund contributions and they may have as much as $200,000 more in savings by retirement over the course of a 30-year career.

Although the analysis underscores the need for individualized financial advice, many Americans find it difficult to locate appropriate sources of information.

The following reasons were cited by the survey respondents on why finding appropriate information was difficult:

  • Available information does not speak to my individual needs at this time: 46 percent
  • Don't know where to start finding financial advice that is relevant to me: 48 percent
  • It's hard to know where to start looking for financial advice: 51 percent
  • Hard to know what sources or who can be trusted: 74 percent

Although the survey highlighted the difficulty in finding trusted sources of financial advice, it stopped short of suggesting where and how individuals could find appropriate financial information for their situation.

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