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Survey Finds Advisors Good for Retirement Readiness, Confidence, Planning

A new study finds that Americans who work with financial advisors demonstrate higher levels of retirement readiness, disciplined planning, and financial confidence that those who don’t.

More than half (54%) of those with an advisor feel very financially secure. Only a fraction of people (21%) without an advisor said the same. Moreover, three quarters (75%) of Americans with advisors consider themselves “disciplined” or “highly disciplined” financial planners – just 37% of those without an advisor embrace those characterizations.

The importance of relationship also resonated in preferences around the delivery of advice. SIx in 10 Americans said a human relationship combined with technology is ideal, while only 11% opted for a fully automated solution.

Most (59%) of Americans with an advisor believe that, if they work past traditional retirement age, it will be by choice rather than from necessity (41%). Notably, the inverse is true for those without an advisor, with 6 in 10 (61%) expecting to remain employed past retirement age from necessity

Moreover, nearly 7 in 10 (67%) Americans who use a financial advisor believe they have clarity on how much to spend now and save for later, compared to less than half (44%) of those without an advisor, according to the 2018 Planning & Progress Study, an annual research project commissioned by Northwestern Mutual.

Additionally, individuals without an advisor are more than twice as likely as people with an advisor (34% vs 13%) to say they are “not at all confident” they have the balance between spending and saving correct – which may offer insights as to why those without an advisor are more likely than those with an advisor (60% vs 37%) to point to debt reduction as a top priority.

Survey respondents also cited several attributes that they said distinguished a remarkable advisor experience from just an acceptable one. “Someone I can fully trust to have my best interests at heart/not just out to sell product” emerged as the leading priority (57%). Other factors included:

  • “Not feeling judged on size of assets/financial decisions” (36%)

  • “Deep expertise across a wide range of financial solutions and strategies” (33%)