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More Americans Seeking Financial Advice

Even as younger and wealthier individuals gravitate toward digital resources for advice, a new report also finds renewed receptivity for financial professionals.

According to new research by Hearts & Wallets, nearly three-quarters (71%) of consumers now use a financial professional of any type, up from 66% last year, and 42% use a paid professional, up from 40% in 2012, a shift characterized by the researchers as a statistically significant increase given the margin of error with a sampling size of more than 5,000 U.S. households.

The increase in sources comes as Americans struggle with investment and retirement planning decisions and show a greater determination to save. Indeed, nearly one in two households say they are challenged by investment selection.

Half of all American households now consult digital resources for investment information and advice, with the highest activity among younger and wealthier households. While two-thirds say they are self-directed investors, the researchers say their actions show a desire for help to make decisions and a new appreciation of paid professional advice.

Going Mobile?

Hearts & Wallets found significant growth in overall technology use, jumping 7 percentage points year over year and increasing from 34% in 2011 to 50% in 2016. Mobile is the fastest growing segment, more than doubling in use since 2011, going from 10% to 24%. One in five users now consults digital resources weekly with the young (ages 21 to 39) and rich ($2 million-plus in investable assets) more likely to be frequent users.

In fact, the wealthiest and youngest Americans lead the way with the biggest jumps in online usage. The most popular online activities nationally are to check accounts, use planning tools and calculators, and gather information and shopping. For younger investors (ages 21 to 39), the most popular online activities are to check accounts, use tools and watch investing videos or podcasts.

Pain ‘Points’

Hearts & Wallets’ Pain Points and Actions report reveals retirement planning is difficult for over half of Americans (58%), up from 49% in 2012. Half (51%) have difficulty deciding where to put their savings. Almost two-thirds of young Americans (ages 21 to 39) struggle with choosing appropriate investments, as do one-third of the wealthiest Americans. Pre-retirees and retirees had less difficulty with financial tasks overall with one exception – over one-quarter (26%) found estate planning difficult. In a new post-crash high, 40% of the so-called Accumulators say they intend to save for retirement this year, in contrast to percentages hovering in the mid-30s from 2010 through 2014.

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